Bon Appétit: Black nectar

Get a taste for Cassis as Victoria Trott visits an artisan producer in the liqueur’s Burgundy heartland

Although best known for its wines, the area around Nuits-St-Georges in Burgundy is also renowned for its production of Cassis: the blackcurrant liqueur which, when mixed with white wine, becomes Kir, one of France’s most popular cocktails.

High above the vineyards in the hamlet of Concoeur, where each September the black nectar is celebrated with the Fête du Cassis, is artisan Cassis producer Ferme Fruirouge. Owner Sylvain Olivier is a fourth generation red fruits farmer, 50 per cent of whose production is the blackcurrant liqueur.

“When my wife and I took over the business in 1995 we knew we wanted to create something special. We farm by organic and biodynamic principles, that is, following the phases of the moon. The harvest starts in the middle of June and everything is picked by hand after 7pm as you get a different flavour then,” he says.

On average, 25 tonnes are harvested each season and all the blackcurrants are frozen within two hours of being picked to avoid oxidation. Five tonnes of the fruits are always kept back in case of poor harvests in future years and they can remain frozen for up to 10 years.

Sylvain continues: “All our products are made on site using traditional methods and equipment and everything is carried out in accordance with the phases of the moon. Our Cassis is special as it is made from one press whereas other producers usually do two.”

Ferme Fruirouge also farms raspberries, strawberries, peaches, cherries and redcurrants. As well as Cassis, their product range includes jam, syrup, vinegar and mustard. Visitors can find out more about Ferme Fruirouge at their shop from Thursday to Monday 9am to noon and 2pm to 7pm.

2 Place de l’Eglise, Hameau de Concoeur, 21700 Nuits-St-Georges; Tel: 03 80 62 36 25; www.fruirouge.fr

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