Pommeau is an alcoholic drink that can be categorised as a Mistelle. Pommeau has been made for many years by cider and Calvados producing families in Normandy, France, but it was really only formalised very recently. In the 1970s group of producers banded together, and by 1981, Pommeau de Normandie was given a special dispensation allowing it to be sold to the public. However, it was not until 1986 that the conditions for producing Pommeau de Normandie were formally laid out and it finally acquired its Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée status on April 10th 1991.
There are now three Pommeau AOCs – Pommeau de Normandie was followed by Pommeau de Bretagne (Brittany) and Pommeau de Maine in 1997 and 1999 respectively. All three regions produce Pommeau with slightly different character, sweetness and flavours.
What is a Mistelle?
A Mistelle is produced by adding alcohol to non-fermented or partly fermented grape juice – or in this case a brandy derived from apples (this will be a young Calvados d’Appelltion Controlee) and apple must. The addition of the alcohol to the fruit juice stops any fermentation so that there is still plenty of sugar left in the mistelle, therefore they are usually quite sweet. Famous Mistelles from other areas include Pineau des Charentes, Floc de Gascogne, Macvin from the Jura, and Ratafia de Champagne.
How is Pommeau Made?
It is made by blending two thirds unfermented cider (mout, French, or must) to on third of Calvados that is one year old. This process is known as “mutage”. The resultant blend is usually between 16 and 18% abv. The blend is then put into large oak barrels of 400 litres (these are usually four or five years old and have to be at least 14 months by law) and left to age for about thirty months. After ageing it is normally bottled at 17% abv. Pommeau de Maine differs slightly from the other in that it must be aged for a minimum of 21 months and has a higher minimum unfermented sugar content.
Pommeau is generally served slightly chilled before a meal as an aperitif and is usually served in a Port or Sherry glass like a copita. However, it is a very versatile drink and can be used as cocktail ingredient such as “Le Normande” which is 3cl Calvados, 3cl Pommeau de Normandie, 6cl of orange juice and one dash of grenadine shaken and served with a couple of ice cubes in a high-ball glass.
Pommeau is a good for matching with food too and is typically served with melon or foie gras but it can also be matched with any apple or chocolate desserts. It is also an interesting match for sweet and sour Asian cuisine and blue cheeses.
Cooking With Pommeau
Pommeau is a great ingredient for cooking and can be used for making sauces for pork, chicken and fish dishes. It is also good to use for making a jus when deglazing a pan.
For more information visit the IDAC (Interprofession des Appellation Cidricoles) website