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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

January 6, 2019


A few cognacs, some stellar

As I may have written before, there are marvellous cognacs out there, provided you favour the smaller houses, especially the ones that grow their own vines and control all stages of the production. Not saying the houses that are only blenders can’t give us very good cognacs too, but those often lack character in my opinion. But then again, I’m no cognac expert, at all. Let’s see what we have today…

Lhéraud ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Petite Champagne, +/-2017)

Lhéraud ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Petite Champagne, +/-2017) Three stars
This a blend by a good house whose reputation is relatively recent. This VSOP is said to be around five years of age. Colour: gold. Nose: typical fresh young cognac, rather on peaches and melons, as well as soft honeys and sultanas, than rather more cake and a touch of liquorice. No rancio at this young age, and very few tertiary aromas, but this freshness is rather pleasant. Let’s only hope the palate will stand the distance. Mouth: this is very coherent albeit more on caramel, fudge and tarte tatin. Peach tarte, some maple syrup, a curious wee smokiness, more spicy tannins as well (ginger and cloves - some new French oak?) and rather more liquorice as well. Sure the youth feels, but it’s all fine and not boisé-ish or too caramely. Finish: medium, firm, just a wee tad bitter, perhaps. That oak, plus cherry stems, perhaps. Comments: some very fair young cognac for a good price.
SGP:561 - 80 points.

Leyrat ‘XO Vieille Réserve’ (40%, OB, Fins Bois, +/-2017)

Leyrat ‘XO Vieille Réserve’ (40%, OB, Fins Bois, +/-2017) Four stars
This is well single-estate cognac, from the Fins Bois region. To be totally honest, I must confess I can’t really detect the various crus when tasting cognac blind, even if they’re obviously different. In other words, I think I could tell there’s a difference, but not say which is what. Colour: gold. Nose: oh lovely! Wonderful full-flown fruits, from melons and peaches again to oranges and even papayas. Also flowers, dandelions, broom, pollen… A truly wonderful nose, I suppose there’s some pretty old cognac within this superb composition. Mouth: indeed, this is excellent. Perhaps less majestic than on the nose, but full and coherent, on crisp peach-like fruits, honeys and syrups. Agave, perhaps? Oranges again, as well as tangerines. Finish: medium, very fresh, well-constructed, fruity and complex. A touch of fudge in the aftertaste, and even hints of Oriental rose jam. Comments: an excellent cognac. Looks like there’s some 30+yo inside, just a wild guess.
SGP:651 - 87 points.

Guillon-Painturaud ‘Hors d’Âge’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2017)

Guillon-Painturaud ‘Hors d’Âge’ (40%, OB, Grande Champagne, +/-2017) Three stars and a half
A very old family estate in Segonzac that dates from the year 1610. As most small estates do, they’re also making Pineau. Colour: amber. Nose: and once again we’re finding a fresh and fruity cognac of a pretty high level, again with ripe peaches at first, then apricots and assorted yellow flowers. Various currants as well, sultanas, touches of orange blossom water, baklavas, praline, a touch of tangerine marmalade, and just faint hints of rancio. Black raisins, tobacco, a hint of umami… Mouth: a tad rougher and grittier this time, more on straight grapes, tealeaves, fruit peels and perhaps a little star anise, pastis, liquorice… Some dried figs and some vanilla too. Very good, but perhaps not totally extraordinary. Finish: medium, with some green tannins, a little ginger and a little nutmeg and cinnamon. Comments: more high-level cognac, perhaps a little more rustic this time.
SGP:561 - 84 points.

Tesseron ‘Lot No. 90’ (40%, OB, +/-2016)

Tesseron ‘Lot No. 90’ (40%, OB, +/-2016) Four stars and a half
This is technically a XO. In general, when cognac makers give you funny numbers such as ‘Lot No. 90’ or else, that means that it is a 1990. It is a blend of Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne and Fins Bois, the house being located in Châteauneuf-sur-Charente. Colour: gold. Nose: a style similar to that of the wonderful Leyrat, full of crisp fruits, yellow peaches, touches of mangos, mandarins, then rather herbal teas, hawthorn, peach leaves, rosehip, hints of banana skins, dried figs, quince jelly… A little grenadine too, poppy sweets, rose petals, Turkish delights… Indeed another one that is absolutely wonderful, and what’s more, really very complex. Rather staggering, I would say. Mouth: as almost always with very good cognacs, the palate’s a tad below after a glorious nose, but in this very case we’re still flying pretty high, with a touch of mocha and liquorice, then the expected jams (peaches, oranges) and preserved fruits (cherries). Touches of green tea, green tannins, leaves, stalks… Finish: long and much greener and grassier, but that’s not a problem here. Liquorice root and even a wee salty touch in the aftertaste. Comments: it lost one point eventually, but what a great blend by Tesseron!
SGP:661 - 89 points.

Good, how can this be done better? Perhaps with a very old bottle?

Otard 1917 (68°proof, Threlfalls Liverpool, UK, 1960s)

Otard 1917 (68°proof, Threlfalls Liverpool, UK, 1960s) Four stars and a half
Threlfalls seem to have been a famous brewery in Liverpool, active until 1967. I suppose they were also spirit importers and/or merchants. Not too sure if this was early landed cognac, so if it was partially matured in the UK, what’s sure is that this is not an original Otard or Otard-Dupuy label. I’d add that at some point in history, Otard was one of the largest cognac houses, together with Martell and Hennessy. Also that this is probably cognac made by women, given that it’s a wartime vintage. Some say that consequently, those vintages were the best - Which could very well be the case. Let’s taste this little jewel that was harvested, and most probably distilled more than one hundred years ago…

Colour: full amber. Nose: many very old brandies do display a slightly liqueury profile, and that’s because they were often a bit ‘arranged’ (on Sunday mornings, ha). That’s probably the case here, but that worked wonderfully as we’re finding hints of tar liqueur, a touch of gentian liqueur, a little coffee, whiffs of violets (not Parma), then quite a lot of old rancio and meaty notes. Bone marrow, ham, bouillons, parsley… Also a little liquorice, old chartreuse-like scents (often to be found in old bottles of brandy in my experience), chestnut purée, old furniture polish, linseed, triple-sec… So it’s all still vibrant despite the low strength (here 39% vol., which was legal at that time), and simply wonderful. Mouth: pretty dry, with typical notes of black raisins and prunes as primary flavours, of old wood and pipe tobacco as secondary ones, and then all meaty and waxy notes you could imagine, all covered with some kind of coffee and chicory cream or something. The texture is a little thick, something’s probably been added indeed. Finish: unexpectedly long, and shock-full of coffee notes. Perhaps did they actually add some coffee or coffee liqueur or cream, in Cognac or in Liverpool? ? Comments: moving.
SGP:650 - 88 points.


(To whomever forgot that old bottle of Otard at WF Towers, well, thank you!)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all cognac we've tasted so far






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