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Normandy's unique spirit: Calvados

December 26, 2011 |  9:00 am

Calvados coverSometimes I opt to give New Year’s presents instead of Christmas presents. That’s when “Calvados: The Spirit of Normandy” by wine importer Charles Neal comes to mind. Picture yourself (or your giftee) in a big armchair, sipping your way through some of the amber apple brandies described herein as you bone up on Calvados. 

Neal explains the varieties of apples (or pears) used, how the fruit is picked, made into cider, and then distilled and aged. But more importantly, how to taste and appreciate this unique spirit.

He has been working on this book for more than 10 years and contributes an insider’s view, tasting notes and short profiles of more than 200 producers. Though he’s no Avedon, he’s captured some wonderful faces in his snapshots. The 766-page tome is clearly a labor of love put together over a couple of dozen trips and thousands of kilometers through the Normandy countryside. 

   I wouldn't mind following in his footsteps.

 “Calvados, the Spirit of Normandy,” by Charles Neal (Flame Grape Press, 2011), 766 pp, $60. If you can’t find it at your local bookstore, you can buy it online.


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Photo: cover of "Calvados: The Spirit of Normandy." Credit: Charles Neal