A little ways northwest of Pont-Leveque (famous for its eponymous mild, cows milk cheese packaged in a square wooden box) is the commune of Coudray-Rabut, in the heart of the Calvados region – about one-half hour’s drive south of the Normandy coast and Deauville, Trouville, and Honfleur (where we were docked).
Calvados is a distinctive apple brandy produced only within the boundaries of the Calvados appellation contrôlée.
We visited the Christian Drouin Calvados Estate which is located in the heart of the region. The estate was originally located near Honfleur until 1990 when Christian Drouin Junior moved the production to a former cider farm in Coudray-Rabut. The estate, representative of the local architecture of the 17th century, comprises a group of half-timbered buildings: the press-house, the stillroom, store-rooms where the spirits are aged in barriques, the bottling plant, and a small manor house.
Over 30 different apple varieties are grown and pressed for the Calvados and cider. The resulting juice is distilled in copper stills and then aged in large oak casks (barriques). We had a chance to taste Pommeau (a blend of apple juice and Calvados brandy) along with several local Norman cheeses, followed by the three highest quality blended calvados offerings from Calvados Christian Drouin (see the top photograph). As a special treat, our host, Christian Drouin Junior, let us enjoy some of the rare and delicious single vintage Calvados bottlings – 1990 and 1995.