Poiré is made using 100% pears and fermented into a beverage like cider. Although a maker can use dessert pears to create a Poiré, the best and most traditional ones are made with true Perry/Poiré pears. Perry is the term used in England and by other English speaking cider and Perry/Poiré makers. Perry/Poiré pears are much smaller than dessert pears and nearly inedible. They’re almost tooth breakingly hard. If you do visit a grower when they’re ripe and get to take a bite out of one, do!
They’re a weird mix of sour and bitter and virtually unpalatable. You’ll end up spitting the chunks out onto the ground. Once yeast is added though, the transformation from inedible fruit into one of the most beguiling of beverages can begin. Poiré and Perries are one of the more complex, subtle, and delicate beverages out there. They’re also quite rare. Perry and Poiré trees are very slow to mature. As the popularity of traditional ciders and Poirés declined, many of the trees were ripped out of the ground or never replaced as they died. Fortunately for everyone, there are many orchardists and cider makers who are planting and preserving these incredible trees.
Christian Drouin, famed producer of Calvados, is one of those producers and orchardists preserving Poiré trees. Their Poiré is an excellent example of a more rustic Poiré that mixes bolder flavors with the traditional delicacy of the French Poiré. Now, they’ve released a new version: Poiré Acide or Sour Poiré. It’s produced using the same natural fermentation process, wild on the skin, but is made with a different blend of pears. The Drouins selected higher acid varieties then let it condition for nearly a year, a lot longer than their standard Poiré, to further accentuate acidity. The longer conditioning time allows for a slow and thorough fermentation that dries the Poiré out more than their standard version.
Appearance: Pale straw, light haze.
Aroma: Pear, honeysuckle, Floral, grapes, gooseberries, grassy, fruity, light grapefruit
Taste: Medium tannin, Medium+ acidity, Mild+ astringency.
Overall Impression: The Sour Poiré is nicely tart but still balanced with a nice dose of tannins. Soft with complex aromas, it’s drier than their standard Poiré. However, the pears still have sorbitol, a sugar that yeast can’t metabolize. This leaves some residual sugar and helps to balance the tartness and tannins.
CO2 Levels: High- sparkle.
Pears: A blend of traditional Poiré focusing on higher acidity varietals.
Availability: Nationally where ciders from B. United International are sold.
You can read more about Christian Drouin and their other products here.