First Batch of Cognacs Available
While we're still working things out with Charles Neal about our smaller allotments of French brandy, we're ready to go with our regional barrels from Comandon. As we mentioned briefly on the blog before, we were able to work out a deal with one of Cognac's most prestigious negotiants and we hashed out the plan in the depths of their warehouse while tasting barrels, followed by a long dinner in downtown Cognac. Our plan is to help shed some light on Cognac's regionality by bringing in single casks from the three different terroirs - Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, and the Borderies. Most companies have VS, VSOP, and XO, but that's all really meaningless in most cases. XO is the highest grade and it simply means more than six years old. All of these barrels are more than 18 years old, so what's the point in letter grades? We tasted with many producers on our trip and came to respect the differences between the soils, grapes, wines, and eventually the brandies, from each of the appellations. David OG wrote up the notes, so now we're ready to go with our first pre-order campaign from France! These are due in at the end of May.
Comandon XO Borderies 18 Year Old Single Barrel Cask Strength Cognac $99.99 - Comandon's Cask Strength Borderies is bottled at a perfect 18 years old. It is definitely the most unique and unusual of the three casks from the exception Comandon line of Single Barrel Full Strength Cognac. Borderies is one of my favorite regions and is usually the least familiar for many amateurs and professionals a like. Often touted for its distinct floral characters (usually violets and iris), this theme is not as universal as many assume. While this brandy does exhibit a distinct floral component, I did not get any violet soapy notes. Instead we a powerful blooming honeysuckle, a fabulous nutty savory character, and a soft smooth finish. Borderies is best between 15-20 years old and I don't think this brandy could get any better. This will definitely be the one to taste for the adventurous, but will ring out perfectly for a true Borderies lover. It will be the least familiar to most Cognac drinkers, but its overt appeal probably makes this the easiest drinking of the three casks. At this price I can only assume that we'll all be very sad when there's nothing left.
Comandon XO Petite Champagne 30 Year Old Single Barrel Cask Strength Cognac $129.99 - Each of Cognac's regions has an equal potential for quality, a distinction most producers would like you to ignore. Cognac regionality does not come from the quality of the distillate, but in its potential to age. While Grande Champagne is always touted as the finest Cognac has to offer, boasting the regions chalkiest soils, those eau-de-vie are best only after 35+ years of aging. We often see subpar Grande Champagne cognac sold before they're ready to drink. The resulting eau-de-vie must be adultered with oak extract, sugar, and caramel to make them palatable. In Petit Champagne, where the chalk is somewhat less prevalent, the eau-de-vie tends to reach maturity between 20-30 years. The marketing experts have nearly forgotten about the other regions of France's most prestigious brandy appellation, you could be one of the lucky few to experience the exquisite complexity of the finest fully matured Petite Champagne Cognac. Dense and richly fruity, even with nearly 30 years in cask this brandy has incredible freshness and lift. At this price, the Petite Champagne will definitely be in short supply.
Comandon XO Grande Champagne 40 Year Old Single Barrel Cask Strength Cognac $159.99 - This phenomenal cask was selected from deep within the sacred paradis at the Tessendier family cellars and represents one of the most exciting finds during our trip. While it comes from one of the Cognac's negociantes, as opposed to the grower producers we're focusing on for our other bottlings, this series of single barrel bottlings will be a compelling statement about the direction of Cognac in the coming years. In cognac, four brands are responsible for 90% of all sales, leaving very little room for independents brands to operate and squeezing potential grower producers to near extinction. Sometimes to find the very best products available we need to maneuver within this framework. While the business is structured differently than our other exclusive selections, the quality is second to none. Comandon's resurrection over the last few years has been meteoric. "Best Cognac" at 2010 SF World Spirits Competition, this single barrel selection from the small Comandon stocks is bottled at strength without reduction. It's beautiful art nouveau label is totally unique. Elegance and refinement remain paramount, while the intensity at full strength adds unparalleled depth. At 40 years old, this brandy truly epitomizes the potential of Grande Champagne Cognac. Here we can really tell why Grande Champagne is so coveted.