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Calvados: The Spirit of Normandy by Charles Neal

The Most Authoritative Calvados Book in Print

Photo of Calvados book by Charles NealCalvados is a pear and apple-based brandy from Normandy, France. With a history dating back nearly 500 years, the region has a long tradition of distilling their ciders into delicious and complex spirits. While not as well known as Cognac or Armagnac, Calvados holds a dear place in the hearts of many spirits lovers.

In this comprehensive study, Charles Neal takes the reader on a back road voyage throughout Northern France, from Mount Saint Michel to Rouen, from Omaha Beach to the small, hidden hamlets of the Orne. The history of the region and its distinctiveness in France are fully defined.

All of the factors that go into making quality calvados are explained, from the various soil types, apple and pear varieties, and cider production to its distillation and aging in barrel. With biographies and reviews of more than 200 producers dotted throughout the Norman countryside, Calvados is an indispensable guide for the serious spirits connoisseur.

Calvados is an astounding 700-page stroll through the history and culture of Normandy and Calvados producers, through orchards and cellars, down to seemingly esoteric details, like what a producer might have scribbled in chalk on a typical barrel.

-- Eric Asimov, New York Times

...an essential reference on an underappreciated topic.

-- Jon Bonné, San Francisco Chronicle

Picture yourself (or your giftee) in a big armchair, sipping your way through some of the amber apple brandies described herein as you bone up on Calvados. Neal explains the varieties of apples (or pears) used, how the fruit is picked, made into cider, and then distilled and aged. But more importantly, how to taste and appreciate this unique spirit.

-- S. Irene Virbila, Los Angeles Times

Neal shows an often-charming, ingenuous attitude as he knocks on doors and engages a variety of farmers, most of them curmudgeons, in discussions that range from apples to cattle, from methods of production to complaints about tax-collectors and bureaucrats. Masses of information surround photographs of fruit, of lovely landscapes and of Calvados producers, most staring straight at the camera and holding a glass of spirits.

A delightful volume for reading in bites, as if one is enjoying a buffet of words about a splendid drink.

-- Joe Pollack, Palate Press

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Buy the Calvados Book

Calvados: The Spirit of Normandy is available at major booksellers. You can order a personalized copy autographed by the author here at Flame Grape Press.

Calvados book showing distillation method.

Calvados Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • 766 pages with full color photographs
  • History of Normandy Region of France, its people, and its terroir
  • Anatomy of an orchard, fruit varieties, and harvesting procedures
  • Calvados distillation and blending
  • Fundamentals of calvados appreciation
  • Profiles of more than 200 calvados producers
  • Publication date: August 31, 2011

International Orders

Calvados: The Spirit of Normandy is also available in Europe. Click here to order from the UK and France.

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