Reason #4 to come to Montréal: Québec ice cider
Cidre de glace (Ice cider) is the fruit of cider-making and cryoconcentration, thus making harsh Québec winters the perfect cradle for its birth.
You could say that the road started with the indigenous population, which had harnessed the cold and already discovered the process of cryoconcentration. Indeed, they had learned to take out the water icicles that would form in maple sap left to freeze, and get a sweet and concentrated liquid.
With the arrival of French settlers came the art of cider-making. Given that Québec winters were not very favorable for grape growing, early French settlers soon turned to apples, which adapted very well to the local climate. Artisan cider was a common beverage in New France. As for the first cidery, it was established in the 1650s by the Sulpician priests on the slopes of the Mont-Royal.
The popularity of cider dwindle over time, especially after the colonies fell to English rule. Then urbanization, brought on by the Industrial Revolution, made cider much more expensive to produce than beer (apples don’t ship as easily as barley). Finally, a blunder in the redaction of the Quebec Liquor Commission act in 1921, which omitted to mention ciders, made it illegal to produce and sell. That mistake was corrected in the 1970s, and artisan cider slowly started to make a comeback.
This being said, it took the genious of Christian Barthomeuf to marry cider-making and cryoconcentration in 1989. His new and distinct new product was later named Cidre de glace by French oenologist Robert Demoy.
Ice cider production must obey very strict rules and does not allow for artificial freezing, colouring or flavouring and added sugars. Cideries can only transform, on site, apples from their own orchards.
There are two techniques to produce ice cider:
– Cryoconcentration: Apples are harvested late in the season, pressed in winter and the juice is left outside to freeze. After 6 weeks, water separates from the sugars producing a high sugar content must, which is then fermented for 6 to 7 months at low temperatures. This is the most commonly used technique.
– Cryoextraction: Apples are left to dessicate by sun, wind and cold on the trees. Harvested at -8 to -15 degrees, they are then pressed, producing a high sugar concentration must. The latter is also fermented at low temperatures for 6 to 7 months.
It takes about 9.5Kg of apples to produce 1 liter of ice cider compared to the 1.7Kg it takes to produce 1 liter of still cider.
In the short 20 years since the first ice cider was produced, around 50 cideries have flourished in Québec. The original ice ciders produced by Dommaine Pinnacle and La Face Cachée de la Pomme have paved the way to a multitude of variations from the strong and spicy to the light and fruity and even sparkly ice ciders… and this is just the beginning!
Here are a few suggestions for you to explore: (available at SAQs)
Clos Saragnat, Avalanche
La Face Cachée de la Pomme, Neige
Domaine Pinnacle, Cidre de Glace
Antolino Brongo, Cryomalus
Michel Jodoin, Cidre de Glace Rosé
Domaine du Minot, Crémant de Glace du Minot
For our friends who will be driving to Montréal, why don’t you seize this opportunity to follow the Cider Trail and visit some cideries on your way to the Meeting?
You can find the map of the trail at http://www.maroutedescidres.com/carte-interactive/
Then just follow this logo:
Many thanks to Georges and Jeannine for their contribution.