Terroir: not the exclusive province of grapes
Although it is historically less respected than its neighbors to the north, the Aube has seen its winegrowing reputation surge over the past decade or so as an ascendent generation of producers coaxes increasingly expressive Champagnes from its Kimmeridgian soils. Less commonly known, however, is that the Aube is where some of the first apple ciders in France were produced—in an area known as the Pays d’Othe. This zone, situated 40 minutes northeast of Chablis, is a rolling, heavily forested countryside with soils of flint-rich clay over a Kimmeridgian-limestone bedrock. A bevy of indigenous apple varieties flourish here, yielding fruit of exceptionally high acidity and powerful minerality—a perfect backbone for cider. Production here dates to the Middle Ages, having flourished in the ensuing centuries but suffering a major hit in the aftermath of the Second World War. Today, the Pays d’Othe is home to just ten producers of cider, and general awareness of the area’s output is dwarfed by that of Normandy and Brittany.