The third generation joins the family distillery. Pierre Martin Neuhaus launches in 2015 Normindia Gin and Coquerel calvados The Cask Finish Collection range.
Jean-François Martin buys back Distillerie Coquerel from the English spirits giant after working there for several years.
United Distillers, now Diageo, acquires Distillerie Coquerel.
1971 - 91
François Martin partnered with the company Asbach & Cie to acquire Distillerie Coquerel. During the first years, they constituted important stocks of great Calvados. They renovated the cidery, expanded the distillery and built new aging cellars. They acquired hundreds of new and re-used French oak barrels that have previously contained Cognac, Pineau des Charentes or fortified wines. Distillery's sales increased rapidly in France and abroad to exceed one million bottles sold at the end of the 1980s. The Coquerel distillery has been awarded four times the Grand Prix d'Honneur by the French President rewarding the most beautiful calvados cellar.
René Gilbert founded Coquerel calvados and settled in the Manoir du Coquerel, in Normandy, in the department of Manche a few kilometers from the world renown Mont-Saint-Michel.
Apples and pears
We produce our Calvados from about forty varieties of cider apples and peary from Normandy, all certified AOC Calvados.
These fruits come from our orchards and those of neighboring farms with which we have been working for sometimes several decades.
A rich eco-system and unique ancestral practices.
In spring, due to the large number of fruit varieties that we use, flowering lasts about two months (April - May), allowing us to significantly reduce the impact of climatic phenomenas.
Pollination is largely carried out by bees that return every year naturally to our orchards.
Finally, from spring until the end of summer, cows and sheeps come to graze in the orchards, thus participating in the natural fertilization of the soil, the mowing of the grass and the natural lightening of the apple trees by eating the first fallen fruits that are often crooked.
HARVEST AND PRESSING
The AOC Calvados requires us to wait until the fruits reach their optimal maturity, thus they must be harvested on the ground from Mid-September till the end of November.
The blending and balance of apple variety is fundamental in the cider production process to bring Coquerel calvados its unique attributes.
Therefore at Coquerel we use no less than 40 types of apples and pears from the 4 families:
- Sharp – such as Domaine, Fréquin variteries – bringing equilibrium and harmony to the cider (20%).
- Bitter sweet – sucah as Bedan, Binet Rouge or Bisquet varieties – bringing tanins to the cider (50%)
- Sweet – such as Germaine or Rouge dure varieties – bringing sweetness to the cider (20-25%).
- Bitter sharp - such as Rambault or René Martin varieties – bringing freshness to the cider (5-10%).
At Distillerie Coquerel we are convinced that a great Calvados is above all a great cider. The fruits are harvested, sorted, washed, crushed and then the must pressed in our cidery to get apple juice that is left for natural fermentation for a minimum of 21 days to become cider.
This fermentation is often much longer and can sometimes last several months.
Once the harvest is finished, then starts the distillation on lees when we concentrate the cider aromas.
The transformation of cider into a clear, fresh and fruity eau-de-vie is made in our three traditional Calvados copper stills.
The distillation of our youngest ciders (30-60 days of natural fermentation) will give fresh, particularly fruity and crunchy eau-de-vie ideal for blending young Calvados.
On the other hand, the oldest ciders (3 to 8 months of natural fermentation) will give eau-de-vie with a beautiful structure and more acidity, ideal profile for long aging.
How does distillation work? It is composed of three elements: the boiler, the dis¬til¬la¬tion column (separated into three cylindrical sections named the stripping column and the concentrating column, each made up of two plates with bubbling elements) and a cider heater.
The cider rises by gravity through the cider heater and even¬tu¬ally reaches the top of the stripping column. It des¬cends towards the boiler from plate to plate via overflow outlets.
Throughout its journey, alcohol is removed under the effect of the heat. The vapors produced from the stripped cider rise and, coming into con¬tact again with the cider, are enriched with volatile elements: alcohol, esters and aromas. These vapors also cross the plates of the smallest column (the “concentrating” column) and are condensed in the cider heater thanks to the cold cider. This results in a distillate with less than 72% after the heads and the tails are removed.
By entering into contact with fine French oak barrels, young calvados round off their education, gaining in structure and complexity. The aging of our calvados is carried out initially (3 to 6 months) in french oak foudres (200 to 300 HL) so that the freshly distilled spirits rest. Then, they are barreled in 300L to 400L french oak casks in order to maximize the exchanges between the eau-de-vie, the oak and the air allowing an optimal aging.
These barrels are new or reused, they have previously contained cognac, rhum, sweet wines, mutated wines or pommeau de Normandie.
At Distillerie Coquerel, we have nine aging cellars, with different hygrometries and temperatures. Dry cellars allow to evaporate more water and less alcohol offering calvados more character and conversely, wet cellars evaporate more alcohol but less water offering rounder calvados.
This evaporation is called the Angel Share
Then comes the strategic role of the cellar master who controls that the wood never mask the apple flavors but enhance and magnify them.