Julien Thurel

In Loury, about 30 minutes northeast of Orléans on the edge of the forest, the young Julien Thurel is undertaking one of the most ambitious and exciting projects in France, attempting to resurrect the long history of cider production in the Loire Valley. Starting with just 1ha of certified organic orchards, Julien is working with five local apple varieties as well as four local pears, plus a handful of varieties from Brittany (where he originally learned cidermaking). He is also planting more trees just outside of the newly constructed chai, but many of these old varieties indigenous to the Loire can take 8-12 years before they yield usable fruit. Alas, Julien is in this for the long haul. All fruit is harvested by hand and undergoes a long, 6 to 8-month fermentation with native yeast in old oak barrels. Secondary fermentation is in bottle (méthode traditionnelle), and Julien releases everything undisgorged, as he finds this allows bottles to remain fresh open for a longer time. These are some of the most vinous, complex, and structured cidre and poiré being produced in France today. Julien is also incorporating some local, organic honey for his triple fermentation cuvée, "Mellicidre", as well as the still dessert/aperitif "Cydromel" (which also happens to be amazing for cocktails). With only a few vintages under his belt, we can't wait to see what the future holds for this already impressive project.