Above: Cider tasting, Domaine Cartier-Potelle, Québec

Discovering Iced Cider

Pouring cider, Domaine Cartier-Potelle, Québec

One of the best-known products from Québec is ice wine, a dessert wine that took off in the early 1970s. Certain apple orchardists now offer cidre de glace, a cider equivalent. It is produced by fermenting the juice of apples that have been left to freeze on the trees, or (less expensively) by pressing the apples in advance, freezing the juice and concentrating it by removing some of the ice on the surface. Both ice wine and ice cider are intensely sweet.

Apple orchards, Domaine Cartier-Potelle, Québec - Andrew Harper editor
Tasting terrace, Domaine Cartier-Potelle, Québec - Andrew Harper editor

During our drive through the countryside between Montréal and the Eastern Townships, we visited a few producers of this unique version of cider. Of the ones we toured, our favorite was Domaine Cartier-Potelle. We strolled through the manicured apple orchards before heading inside for a tasting. It was led by two charming and knowledgeable women whose passion for the estate and excitement at the rising popularity of ice cider was contagious. We tasted several exceptional examples, including a sparkling one (most ice ciders are still). Unique to this domaine is its Le Fortifié, a blend of the estate’s reserve ice cider and apple brandy, which has been aged in oak barrels for two years. It is a bold, well-balanced drink that would be enjoyable as either an aperitif or digestif.

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