Pear Champagne Anyone?

This is a guest blog, written by Kathy Morton, who organizes culinary tours in France.  A heartfelt thanks to her for sharing this interesting post.

Normandy has miles and miles of apple and pear orchards. In the springtime, blossoms perfume the air and provide stunning views of the countryside. In the fall, the scent of ripe juicy fruits is undeniable.

Most apples and pears air plucked from the trees, but some bitter pears are purposely left until the drop to the ground, carpeting the area known as the Bocage Domfrontais.  Because this fallen fruit – an unusually tart and fragile pear – is quick to spoil, it is swooped up from the ground as soon as possible to be pressed into juice. The result? One of France’s most unusually distinctive drinks: Le Poiré.   A glass of Poiré, or “pear champagne,” makes a perfect aperitif before a meal.

Described in 1607 as “wine made from pears,” golden-hued Poiré is sometimes known as “perry.”  Light and fruity, this effervescent drink has low alcohol content and, like champagne, can be enjoyed before and during a meal.  In Normandy, Poiré  is made much the same way as the local apple cider, but unlike apples which are stored for a time to make the cider, the ripe pears that have fallen off the trees are pressed as soon as they are gathered.

A journey along the Route du Poiré  entices travelers to stop for visits and observe the fruit-bearing trees, most of which are over 30 years old.   A visit to one of the local producers such as the award-winning family of LeMorton – who has been producing poiré for generations, renders a first-hand look at the method of production and a unique opportunity to taste the exceptional libation.  Visits are always followed by une dégustation, a tasting of the final product. Michelin-starred restaurants and upscale markets like Fauchon carry LeMorton’s exceptional Poiré.

It’s always fun to go to the source of a product and meet the local producers. Next time you find yourself in Normandy, a tasting of this local product is a must!

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