Roger Groult, Calvados Pays d’Auge
I write this smugly, knowing full well that out of our earshot, any potential readers patient enough to peruse this will unknowingly coalesce in a grumbling cacophony… something along the lines of “those guys at Metrovino, they’ve sure got it tough.” Yes, yes, such sarcastic mutterings will abound all over town. But we put a lot of time and effort into selecting and importing this exciting Calvados to share with you thirsty lot of sarcastic, murmuring dugongs and as it’s a bit too early for a digestif at the moment, I sip tea and blast the Zeros on the stereo as I write to you about Calvados Roger Groult.
I’m starting to feel patently unoriginal as I keep referring to a February trip to France that I was lucky enough to accompany Richard on a few years back, but the fact of the matter is that we experienced considerable success regarding the acquisition of new products. In addition to cramming our waking hours with estate visits and trade shows in the Loire Valley and Burgundy (often colder than a well-digger’s ass, sending near-frozen 4-month-old Cabernet Franc rattling around in our faces), we were steadfast in our late-night tastings of Calvados (Normandy’s apple-based distillate to the uninitiated) in some of the most eclectic restaurants that these regions had to offer, such is our dedication. There were many highlights from the likes of Adrien Camut, Michel Huart and Patrice Giard to name a few, but the right fit for Metrovino turned out to be the stellar Pays d’Auge producer, Roger Groult.
The estate dates back to 1850 and today, Jean-Roger Groult is the 5th generation director of 25 hectares of orhcards, 17 of which boast trees planted on standard rootstocks (if curious, ask us why this is important). Groult does not market cider, pommeau, apple juice, dairy derivatives, Christian death metal records or any other products that Calvados producers have been known to offer. This is to say that every qualitatively sound apple chez Groult is pre-destined for distillation and treated accordingly; as opposed to blasting an unsatisfactory batch of cider through the distiller as a last resort, for example. Furthermore, and despite enjoying certain fruit-purchasing relationships with other producers in the immediate area, Jean-Roger can take pride in the fact that every drop of Groult Calvados has been distilled on site by himself or his ancestors, even in regards to their fifty-plus-year-old blend known as Réserve Ancestrale.
What sealed the deal for us is the very Calvados-like quality of Groult’s products, and if this sounds redundant by virtue of the fact that the products are Calvados, I must point out that many producers craft spirits that are elegant, sophisticated and impressive, but smell and taste like other types of high-end brandy and forego the qualities that make Calvados unique. If your favorite Calvados smells and tastes like your Armagnac of choice which in turn is so silky and oaky that it could be mistaken for Cognac or a high-end Bourbon for that matter, then why do you have so many different bottles behind the bar? That’s not our style - these are traditional, appley, fiery products of distinct Norman descent that are going to significantly improve all of our future winters in this province:
Roger Groult Cavlados Pays d’Auge Réserve $49
More than entry-level, this is a classy, fervent drop with miles of green appleskin and a whisper of spearmint and vanilla. Youthful fruit is the whole point here and this is both an ideal post-lunch digestif and an excellent contender for Calva cocktails.
Roger Groult Calvados Pays d’Auge 8 Ans $69
The apple here is in clobberin’ cobbler form, covered in butter and hazelnuts, served next to a vase of gardenias. Come to think of it, is this the Meursault of Calvados? Who cares, it doesn’t matter. Richer, longer and more mellow on the palate than its predecessor, but with enough edge that it’ll sort you out when you’ve over-indulged at dinner.
Roger Groult Calvados Pays d’Auge Vénérable $99
Some serious business going on here with an average age of just under 20 years. The apple is ever-present despite the complexity and nuances of a mature spirit. It’s December and you’ve just walked into a farmhouse in Normandy where the farmer is puffing on pipe-tobacco, Ceylon tea is steeping and wafting robustly (the only pot of tea in all of France?) and the fireplace is incinerating applewood (obviously) but drunky hasn’t opened the flue all the way! His wife walks in and pulls a tarte tatin out of the oven before sitting down with her tea. In short, it’s ornate but comforting and distinctly Norman.