In general, I find the French particularly difficult to break through to regarding the things I am trying to do; they seem a little more secretive and less interested. To put it into context, I've had more luck making contact Japanese applewine producers than French cidermakers, even though I've sent more e-mails and made more phone calls to establish a French connection but to no avail. They seem to make me want to work for it, which I enjoy, but it does cast a slightly different kind of light over them as a consequence. I started learning French at 7 and whilst I speak what can at best be described as pidgin French, I speak it with the confidence of a native which should surely count for something? Maybe they're just not that into e-mail or listening to their answer machines but you have to wonder - why have an email address or an answer machine if you don't use it? Anyway, I made some progress this year - I visited La Maison du Cidre in Le Hezo, Morhiban which was ok if a little tired. I had more luck and even a breakthrough at Domaine du Kinkiz just outside Quimper, Finistere. I already had an appointment nearby that afternoon at Paul Coic ciderie and needed to find somewhere local to visit in the morning. After a cappucinosworth of surfing I had turned up with a shortlist and these were the only guys that answered he phone. They were keen and seemed friendly. Unusually I had no idea what to expect after the essentials of cidermaking and it caught me off guard a bit. The cultural differences of shooting in another country really come into play from the moment the phone is answered. What was waiting for me at Kinkiz was fantastic and I wish I was more prepared for it and had allowed more time. Somewhere to revisit I think. I was fascinated with the passion for distilling, to the point where it's almost accepted that producing cider itself just a formality or necessity but less interesting than spirits. This is something I've encountered not so far from me in Somerset. These French spirits were really very good, I bought several bottles home and saving their opening for a special occasions. The 'Gwen' (Breton word for White) Eau de Vie tastes like nothing else I've ever tried before... it was amazing and I didn't particularly like Eau de Vie, until then.
The afternoon a visit to Paul Coic was completely different. He runs a small one man band Ciderie and didn't speak a single word of English. I didn't get offered any samples either so have no idea what his ciders taste like. However, I got a good dose of terroir at both places... the dusty cellars full of cobwebs and still, cool air.