Before you read the headline and think to yourself, "I'm not into Cognac, time to browse over to the Malt Advocate blog," give me a few more lines to intrigue your attention. Today I had the chance to taste two new products being imported soon to the U.S. that truly took my breath away. A 58 year, single barrel cask strength Cognac (like a bourbon!) and a Pineau des Charentes that blows any other liqueur out of the water. Both are amazing; one is very expensive; the other is within a reasonable price for someone who is serious about spirits. Either would be something very special to own.
In 1951, a 20 year old Frenchman named Jean began his military service outside of Lyon. He made a very good friend during this time named Pierre, who was a 9th generation Cognac producer and their friendship lasted over the years. When Jean's grandson Nicolas (who came to visit me today) became interested in distilling, Pierre decided to mentor him and teach him the art of Cognac. While learning how to produce, Nicolas of course had to learn how to taste and he was able to sample the entire library of Pierre's family, dating back a very long time. Most of these barrels were never released to the public and many of them have never been blended to create a marketable product - they simply age slowly in the family cellar.
In 2008, Nicolas, who had always been a big fan of bourbon, decided to consult with Pierre about releasing one of these barrels in a single barrel, cask strength format much like the American whiskey makers have been doing. He knew that there were collectors out there who would love to get their hands on something like that and he felt a duty to release these brandies to the world. The first of these releases is a 58 year old barrel distilled entirely in 1951 that is one of the most awesome spirits I have tasted. Exploding with flavor, this is big, powerful, chewy, dark caramel, chocolate, dried figs, and a monster mouth of 51%. It is jaw-dropping, heartstopping, simply fantastic brandy and it will appeal to more than just the Cognac lovers. This is more like Armagnac but with even bigger balls. Nicolas has named the line after his father, Paul-Marie. The Barrique "Devant la porte" will be available shortly and will come in around the $650 mark. If you were ever going to shell out for a Cognac, this is EASILY the one worthy of doing so. Only 258 bottles made.
On top of that amazing experience, Nicolas also brought his 25 year old Pineau des Charentes that simply explodes on the palate. I've never even heard of anyone aging their PdC before, so the idea in itself is novel because most people feel like they're wasting their Cognac by adding fermented wine must to it. I've only ever had the Peyrot that we carry to compare it to and that is not much of a comparision. This is a megablast of orange peel, sweet caramel, nutty almonds, hints of cheese, and more swirling on the palate. It was made from Cognac distilled in 1984 and then white wine from 1985 and put into a barrel for 25 years! Who has the patience to do that for Pineau des Charentes?! With only 679 bottles released - all unfined, and unfiltered at cask strength - I can't imagine a better gift for any spirits or wine lover. It is simply DELISH! At $85 I think it is more than fair for something so special, unique, and wonderful.
I cannot wait to get these bottles. Simply CANNOT WAIT!