About Normandy terroir
What is a terroir
The concept of terroir is often overused: a red tablecloth, a baguette, booze, cheese and delicatessen.
A terroir is much more than that. First of all, there is a homogeneous territory on a soil and climate point of view. That allows consitency on agricultural productions.
Then, there is a homogenous population from a cultural point of view. Historically, both go together. Territory builds a culture. This allows a tradition to settle. This tradition comes in agriculture and cooking.
It is the combination of thesethree factors (territory, population, know-how) that enables the emergence of a Terroir.
Let's illustrate ou point:
We are in the French Alps, in the Beaufortain. Valleys clearly bounds the mountain range. If you want to go to the other mountain, you have to go downhill, cross a river and go up again. Valleys are clear borders hard to cross. In the beaufortain, wildlife and flora are specific and homogenous to these mountains. The massif encloses the population. They are relatively closed to the outside world and autonomous. Subistance depends on cattle. Farmers select the most suitable cows for the steep slopes and the climate. With time it becomes a specific breed: the Tarine cow.
Farmers produce cheese during summer time. They must feed on cheeses during the winter time. This requires making massives cheeses wheels that will refine over 6 month. Therefore, they develop a recipe that is used in the entire massif because it fits their requirements.
A special flora grazed by a typical cow breed, cheese making expertise...the result is a cheese with its which reflects the Terroir and its own typicality: The Beaufor cheese is born!
There are 11 territories in Normandy that could be described as homogeneous. If in the Alps the limits of a of a population and a territory are clear, it is not the same in Normandy. Nonetheless, the importance of oceanic climate is huge. Rainfall is regularly distributed throughout the year. The temperature difference between winter and summer is low: it is a typical oceanic climate. The grass grows almost yearly. Cows can graze almost all year round. Milk is also available year round to make cheese. Therefore, no major conservation are needed. That's why we mostly find soft cheeses like camembert.
If today monoculture is required in our agriculture, it has not always been so. Cows brought a steady income through the production of cheese and butter. Farmers also used to plant fruit trees in pastures that provided fruits to brew cider. This kind of agriculture is called agroforestry: you have two production on one plot. It doesn't double your money, instead it makes the system more resilient. That's why in Normandy, cheese, goes with cider.
Some soils are clayish and are favorable to apple like in the Pays d'Auge and the Pays de Bray. It gives typical ciders. Some soils are rich, deep and combined with a very mild climate. they are very favorable to pear like in the country of Domfront. It gives the typical Domfrontais perry.
With us tyou will discover more subtle notions of terroir and their variations in Normandy. So come and join one of our tours