Zoe Fryday travels to Normandy to visit the home of Sassy Cidre
It’s not every day that you get the pleasure of staying in a magnificent 18th century château in the heart of Normandy, France. From the exquisite classical architecture to the vast grounds and beautiful formal gardens, Château de Sassy takes your breath away, allowing you to travel back in time to an age of grandiose aristocracy. Owned by the d’Audiffret Pasquier family, the iconic estate boasts a rich, illustrious history, and has preserved the tradition of cider and calvados making since 1852.
In 2016, childhood friends Xavier d’Audiffret Pasquier and Pierre-Emmanuel Racine-Jourden launched the Sassy brand, a collection of hand-crafted, 100% natural ciders which bring the traditions of the château into the present day. Inspired by memories of classic Normandy cider, the pair embarked on a journey to create a quality French product that embraces the region’s landscape, history and fruitful terroir. Their vision is to revolutionise conceptions around cider, opening the category up to inspire and excite a new generation of consumers.
Working with a renowned cellar master, Xavier and Pierre-Emmanuel spent over a year modifying and perfecting the cider recipes. Sassy now offers three expressions, Brut, Rosé and Poiré – all of which champion the apples and pears cultivated from Château de Sassy’s impressive orchards. Xavier explains: “We are trying to show people that it is possible to drink less, but better. Our products are very different to other ciders on the market – we don’t add water, colourants, additives or sugar, meaning our drinks are 100% natural and only the pure juice from the apples or pears.”
The first variant, Sassy Cidre Brut, The Iconic, balances the traditional dry taste of a brut with the fruitiness of a semi-dry cider. Made using 22 different apple varieties, it harmonises acidity, bitterness and roundness, presenting notes of apples, leather and wood. Characterised by its delightful rosy-red hue, naturally obtained from unique pink-fleshed Genever apples, Sassy Cidre Rosé, The Passionate (3% ABV) is delicate, structured and lightly acidic. This fruit-forward cider is smooth and elegant, with a lasting finesse. Making up the trio is Sassy Cidre Pear, The Virtuous. At 2.5%, it has the lowest ABV in the collection. Bright, clear and delicate, the pear flavour fills the mouth while the natural sugars leave a smooth finish befitting the low alcohol.
Four years later, Sassy is distributed in 15 countries. Xavier and Pierre-Emmanuel’s key focus is on the UK on-trade. The brand is building strong relationships with bartenders and chefs to bring Sassy to life. The ciders are used in an array of innovative cocktails, and currently feature on the menus of top London establishments including Nightjar and The Dorchester. “Our bartenders and chefs are true ambassadors for our brand. They are the everyday face of Sassy, and bring so much creativity in how they use our cidres in their cocktails and in their cooking. It’s inspiring for us to see! In return, we always want to ensure that they feel part of our brand, understand where it came from and what it’s setting out to achieve,” explains Xavier. “We love sharing our story with consumers and want to share how we are different to other ciders and drinks. It’s very rewarding leading our teams in revolutionising cider together and expanding into new markets as we strive to put Normandy on the map.”
La Vie En Rosé (pictured below)
40ml St Germain Elderflower liqueur
60ml Franklin & Sons 1886 Soda
60ml Sassy Cidre Rosé
Add ingredients to a large wine glass with ice, stir and garnish with a twist of lemon.