The Indy Scene

Yesterday we finally got in some of the independently-bottled Cognac we tasted on our last trip to France. If you remember this post here, then you'll remember us talking about Jean Grosperrin: one of the coolest, and most forward-thinking bottlers in the independent French brandy scene. "La Folle Blanche" is a 100% folle blanche distilled Cognac, which makes it the first of its kind I've seen available state-side (almost all Cognacs are distilled from the much milder ugni blanc). Not only is it made entirely of folle blanche, it's made entirely of folle blanche planted in Grand Champagne terroir and the label carries that highest of vineyard quality designations. At 43% there's just an extra bit of lift. The coolest part for me, however, is the kookiness and the fun-loving nature of the bottle. The label is obviously French modern, but the bottle itself is an opaque black with a flip-top seal much like you find on old German beer bottles. Staunch classicists with snooty opinions about Cognac will not be pleased, but I think it's fantastic.

Jean Grosperrin "La Folle Blanche" Grand Champagne Cognac $99.99 - Lighter and more fruit-forward than most Grand Champagne Cognac we often taste, the Grosperrin is fresh and alive with the inherent flavors of the spirit, rather than added caramel or wood. A blend of brandies from the 2003 and 2008 harvests, the flavors are much more spicy and intense than what one typically finds in ugni blanc distillates. Overall, it's a refreshing, modern, and forward-thinking take on a category that definitely needs a dose of fresh blood. We couldn't be more excited about it.

Seeing that we're still months away from any new K&L-direct Cognac shipments, I decided to make a power-play on one of my favorite expressions available normally within the U.S. The Giraud family has been making Cognac since the mid-1600s and they're one of the few producers that we know of who uses zero caramel. While the expressions carry standard Napoleon, VSOP, and XO designations, the Cognacs themselves are all from single vintages, meaning Giraud doesn't blend different brandies together to maintain consistency; the Cognacs will change from year to year. We got a hot, smoking deal on the VSOP, so I grabbed everything we could get. This is similar to the Guillon-Painturaud VSOP in quality, but about $20 cheaper per bottle. It's an outstanding value and I'm glad we have plenty of it.

Paul Giraud VSOP Grand Champagne Cognac $40.99 - Soft vanilla, mild stonefruit flavor, and altogether elegant in its execution, the VSOP Cognac from Giraud showcases how delicious Grand Champagne brandy can be when you take a step back and let the quality of the grapes speak for itself. Normally $60 per bottle, we managed to negotiate a hot price for this lovely little brandy.

Speaking of the indy scene, I got off work at 7 PM last night, walked down 5th Ave behind the Redwood City store, hung a left at the Hometown Noodle, a right on 4th, and within ten minutes I was at the Sports House watching Ring of Honor wrestling. Samoa Joe, Jay Lethal, Jushin Liger, and a whole roster of other folks tore the house down. One thing that made me laugh, however, was how the "serious" fans in the audience tried to out wrestling-fan one another. One guy would yell something "insider" and clever at the wrestlers, and then look around to see if any other "smart" fans in the audience had noticed. It was like a competition to see who knew more and who could interject themselves the most into the actual match. While it was initially kind of sad, it started to make me sick after about twenty minutes. I said to my friend Ben, "It doesn't matter what the hobby is, no matter where you go there are always going to be a few insecure guys with something to prove."

"You've got all these guys that watch other fans on TV and can't wait to imitate them the first moment they get because they want to participate, too, " Ben said in response. "Now that certain super fans are starting to get recognized online at multiple shows, these guys here ultimately want that same type of attention, so they're all competing with each other to see who the coolest, most saavy wrestling audience member is. It's crazy." My head about exploded at that point. Wine, and whisky, and wrestling.

That's when I looked at Ben's shirt and said, "You've got it down." Grab a beer. Watch a match. Take it easy. Live simply.

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll