On the summit of Mont St-Hilaire with my good friend Marie Josée we looked out over a strange landscape. There was farm land; some of it industrial, some small scale, probably not much artisanal. There was the Richelieu river swerving through it all, probably a little polluted. And then Beloeil. Not much to say, except surreal. Mid november at 15 degrees we could not be happier. Our bellies were full of fresh apple juice, goat cheese and a local bread. Before climbing the mountain we had just witnessed the short zany copulation of a billygoat and his mate. After strange tongue movements reminiscent of 80`s rock band members and a shuffle and a dance, BAM! One swift shot which took, 2 seconds. We were stunned. No pleasure there. I can see how being called a buck could perhaps be insulting. I asked what they did with the meat. They don`t advertise their meat, and keep it for those who....well, all I can say is that the trunk of my car began quickly filling up. One thing I could not help noticing was that most of the goats had their horns. Delicate, since they do fight quite a bit, and regularily impale one another. They find it a tough moral decision. Instead of burning off the horns though he is experimenting with a pretty innovative trick. A tight rubber band around the base of the horn. Blood is cut off, the horn falls. That is it. And they respect the natural cycle of their animals, no artificial lighting, no artificial nothing. How simple is that. No compromise. A lot less cheese in the winter but a little time of rest. That is that. It does not get more normal than that.
Coming down the mountain we were ready to visit the ice cider Cryo.
Although Hugo, the owner of Cryo, was not there we were nonetheless given the grand tour. She explains the two different types of ice cider: Cryo concentration which represents about 90 percent of the production which is essentially apples picked in autumn, frozen out doors and then slowly pressed for the concentrated juice. The second method is cryo extraction which is when the apple is frozen on the tree itself, picked weather and wind beaten on a crazy minus too many degrees Québec winter day and then pressed frozen. Courtland is usually the apple for this. For both of these methods the essential characteristic is that the process of freezing is completely natural. We talked about how the Chinese have understood this method and are trying to do the same but by using freezers. Enter industrialization. This led once again to the talk of AOC`s in Québec to protect products which are pure in their approach and definite in the character of the terroir. Put this way, winter looks a little different.
mi Cryo-Spartan, Mcintosh and Empire. 8.7% nice balance between sugar and acidity giving way to apple. Fresh.
Cryo cidre de glace-11% soft, spices, honey. Not too sweat leading to apricots, with subtle oxidation, buttery with a nice apple finish.
Prestige-2008 10%-apples picked in mid-january. Crazy irony that the immediate fruit on the nose is litchi with a little pineapple with toasted nuts. Excellent big taste of compoted Courtland.
The trunk full again with meat, drink, apples, blue squash....I could only be thankful for my friends and the artisans who are holding on to values which hopefully will multiply in their intensity and respect not only for the nature but for each of us.