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The history of Calvados – Post-war

Of all the areas of France affected by the war, Normandy suffered the most . The neglecting of the farms and orchard were miner to the mass destruction and devastation of houses, factories and transport not to mention the death of civilians and famine in the area. Huge support was poured into the area by the allies and the region returned to a relatively rapid industrial recovery. In 1949 there were 29 larger cider houses and distilleries in the Pays d’Auge but even into 1950 the alcohol required by the government for munitions was more than 50% of that produced. However by 1953 the governments need had declined and a political decision was made to cut down on production and concentrate on quality. By 1956 the government stopped supporting the calvados industry and combined with land redistribution and rural depopulation resulted in the decline of traditional farmhouse production. There was little will to produce quality products, partly as a result of bad decisions having been made concerning varieties, distillation and ageing including State decisions to dig up and replant varieties. However, in the Pays d’Auge the tradition remains quite strong and the area produces more than a third of the apples in Lower Normandy.

Modern agriculture has changed the Pays d’Auge from the 1980’s with the replacement of the “haut-tiges”, (high stem), trees with low stem orchards which are more productive and provide a faster return on the investment at the expense in some cases of quality. In most cases these are used for cider production. Significantly though some familial orchards still plant the high stem trees where quality is still part of the family calvados tradition thus maintaining the quality calvados from the region and in 1984 the remake of the appellation system agreed to provide guarantees to the quality of the calvados and all the companies were obliged to follow the appellation rules to guarantee a level of quality of both the calvados and Pommeau, the little known sweet aperitif made from the distilled eau de vie and cidre which when served cold is not dissimilar to the Pineau from Cognac and Flox from Armagnac regions.