Preserving the character of the apple and its terroir
The choice of the right barrels is at the heart of good aging and aromatic complexity. At the Domaine Dupont oak is the preferred wood, more particularly oak which has grown on sandy soil, because its sap has a flavour of vanilla which marries harmoniously with the aromas of freshly distilled Calvados. The barrels are only heated gently when shaped, to preserve the vanilla aromas in the sap.
The aging in young barrels lasts about 3 months, sufficient to enrich the Calvados with the vanilla aromas from the wood, without letting it mask the taste and aroma of the apples from which it came. Subsequently, the Calvados continues its aging in older barrels, less rich in tannins. Passing through the pores of the wood, the most volatile alcohol evaporates over time, the aromas intensify, gain in complexity and become more concentrated. The Calvados progressively approaches the alcoholic strength at which it will be consumed.
Etienne Dupont encourages this evaporation as much as possible to avoid all other additions, and to avoid as much as possible the reduction of alcoholic levels by the addition of water. That is why some calvados from the estate are sold "unreduced" (undiluted).
Slowly, the floral and vegetal characters of the Calvados bouquet become more complex. As it ages, the Calvados finds its roots again. Colourless as it leaves the alembic, it takes on an ever increasingly amber colour, while the development of sugars, essential oils, and fatty acids gives it ever increasing roundness, intensity and fullness.
Young Calvados, with their fruity bouquet are agreeable as aperitifs or even throughout the meal when accompanying some kinds of food. They also make very convivial post prandial drinks. Older Calvados are in themselves a great tasting experience. They demand time to be taken to appreciate all the complexity of their bouquet. The silkier ones are best sipped unaccompanied. Those with more intense aromas can be drunk on their own, or can brilliantly accompany well chosen coffee, or chocolate with a high cocoa content, or yet a cigar carefully selected by the knowledgeable amateur.