Canada is famous for its sweet and smooth ice wine but in Monteregie, I discovered that there is also ice cider. And not the kind that is basically apple juice. Rolling up into La Face Cachee de la Pomme (The hidden side of the apple) cidrerie, I was greeted by apple orchards covered with rosy apples. Some varieties, like Fuji and Gala, stay on the trees until January, so that the cold and wind whip the insides into a concentrated taste. The frozen apples are picked when it's about 15 degrees below zero and the insides have been dehydrated and all that's left is nectar.
Aged ice cider is stored in these barrels, La Face Cachee is a pioneer in ice cider and produces 10 different varieties.
The founding president of La Face Cachee, Francois Pouliot, ditched his film video career where he worked with musicians like Celine Dion, to develop ground-breaking ice ciders. The ciders or apple ice wines as they are sometimes called, range from 8% -18% alcohol levels and must meet strict standards to qualify as ice ciders.
Inside the tasting room, this illustration shows the different flavors such as cheese, pear, apricot and cinnamon, that apple pairs well with
According to Francois, the best pairing for ice cider is firm cheese. We tasted a dizzying range of ice ciders and the sweet notes do offset firm cheese very well, particularly goat cheese and firm cheddar. La Face Cachee ciders have been featured everywhere from El Bulli to presidential receptions, they even makes an appearance in that quirky Quebec green sangria. Neige Premiere is the most popular and award-winning, created from a sweetly acidic blend of Macintosh and Spartan apples. This was my favorite as well, it tasted like a lighter version of apple brandy.
When I asked him to explain the significance of ice ciders, Francois summed it up with this: "It's the best of our culture in a bottle."