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

February 9, 2020


A little bag of Cognac

I do hereby solemnly declare that this session has got strictly nothing to do with Brexit, neither has it got anything to do with rugby. Hoppla, let’s see what we have, perhaps some VSOPs?…

Jules Gautret ‘VSOP’ (40%, Cognac, blend, +/-2018)

Jules Gautret ‘VSOP’ (40%, Cognac, blend, +/-2018) Two stars
Jules Gautret is rather a brand name than a house, which belongs to the very large coopérative Océalia. Océalia also produce wine, cereals or cattle. All that does not mean that this little cognac should obligatorily be sup-par, mind you. Let’s see… Colour: amber. Nose: it’s an easy one, with good freshness, raisins, dandelions, a little honey and preserved yellow peaches. All that combines well, with perfect balance and a je-ne-sais-quoi (indeed that’s post-Brexit English) of Glenmorangie. Mouth: rather on oranges and overripe apples, but sadly a tad bitter and ‘green’. Some honey and some tobacco over a rather rustic and greenish composition. I would say this is equivalent to some just above entry-level Scotch blend. Finish: medium, a tad sour and too grassy. Comments: rustic indeed. A shame because I really enjoyed the brightly fresh nose.
SGP:451 - 75 points.

Bache Gabrielsen ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Cognac, blend, +/-2018)

Bache Gabrielsen ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Cognac, blend, +/-2018) Two stars and a half
A house that’s rather exported to Scandinavia, I believe, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen any on French shelves. Which, granted, does not mean a thing. This expression’s said to mainly shelter Fins Bois. Colour: deep gold. Nose: rather modern style, which I find is good. More on fresh fruits, flowers and honeys than on caramel, prunes and oak. This nose is actually very lovely – and lively – with touches of maraschino, fresh almonds, dandelions this time again, peaches, and juicy golden raisins. Quite some vanilla too, as well as a tiny touch of pine resins, which would actually add complexity. Let’s pray now… Mouth: way above the Gautret, even if this time again, the palate is not quite in the same league as that of the nose, which would happen with many a young Cognac in my book. Good quinces, touches of caramel this time, burnt sugar, apricot jam, light honey, then a touch of coffee and cloves, probably from the oak. Finish: medium, frankly more rustic this time. Grass, fruit peelings, over-infused tea… Loses points at this stage. Comments: as always, the devil’s in the finish, but I think this remains a rather fine VSOP nonetheless.
SGP:551 - 79 points.

Camus ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Cognac, +/-2019)

Camus ‘VSOP’ (40%, OB, Cognac, +/-2019) Three stars
This new expression is advertised as being ‘intensely aromatic’, not something we would be against. It’s said to stem from the Borderies part of the Cognac region, while the wood was only lightly toasted (chauffe française) to impart less oaky tones, while keeping the aging properties of the casks. Colour: amber. Nose: I wouldn’t say it is vastly different from the Bache, as we’re finding similar lightly resinous notes, almonds, fruit skins, but then certainly more citrus, especially blood oranges. Also small notes of prickly pears, and even poppy syrup, grenadine... That’s rather intriguing, I have to say. But will this one crash as well?... Mouth: well, it is a little whisky-y, would I say, less emphatically fruity than I had thought, and rather more on dry plums and herbal teas, hawthorn, chamomile, lime-blossom tea, vanilla, banana skin and a little cocoa making it a little drying. What’s sure is that it did not crash. Finish: medium, rather on chocolate and marmalade. Or there, Jaffa cakes. Some drying tea in the aftertaste. Comments: I really like this one – any whisky enthusiast would – but, if I may, the juice deserves two or three extra % ABV. 40 is a handicap here.
SGP:561 - 82 points.

More Camus then…

Camus 2005/2019 ‘Monbazillac Cask Finish’ (40%, OB, Cognac, 3000 bottles)

Camus 2005/2019 ‘Monbazillac Cask Finish’ (40%, OB, Cognac, 3000 bottles) Four stars
This one from vineyards in Dordogne, said to be the last that remain within the Cognac appellation. I’m not sure doing a finish in Monbazillac wood will preserve any terroir here, but there, let’s see what will come out of this very Glenmo-y bottle. Oh, in case you don’t now, Monbazillac is similar to Sauternes wine (but don’t tell the good people in both regions, many still own old rifles). Colour: deep gold. Nose: yes, sure, this works. After all, grapes on grapes, why wouldn’t that work? Ripe peaches, apricots, quinces, mountain honey, sultanas, butterscotch, and just a drop of linseed oil. Lovely, easy nose. Mouth: success. It’s bigger than expected, pretty tense despite a wee syrupy side that would last for fifteen seconds, and really full of quinces and apples. Then tiny mentholy herbs, woodruff, spearmint, some liquorice too, touches of muscovado sugar… It's not that it’s immensely complex, not at all, but balance has been found once again. Finish: medium, a little more on peels and leaves, but orange blossom honey is back in the aftertaste. Oriental pastry. Comments: the Monbazillac was very well-behaved. By the way, check Tirecul La Gravière, especially the Cuvée Madame if you can find it.
SGP:651 - 85 points.

We’re feeling good at Camus’, let’s try more…

Camus ‘Port Cask Finish’ (43.2%, OB, batch #VSFP2785, 2019)

Camus ‘Port Cask Finish’ (43.2%, OB, batch #VSFP2785, 2019) Two stars and a half
No vintage this time and an unexpected and pretty mysterious use of Tawny Port wood, but on the other hand, a higher strength (hourrah !) Colour: apricot. Nose: Port seems to work better with brandy than with whisky. There, I’ve said it. Perhaps is that a matter of grape and grain not mixing well or other antique sayings, but what’s sure is that all is well here, while we’re a bit in malt whisky territories as far as overall profiles are concerned (I know, all that is not very coherent, but that’s how it is). Cherry cake, raisins, butterscotch, dried figs, puréed chestnuts… And no red wine as such. Phew. Mouth: no complains, even if I tended to like the sleeker Monbazillac a little better. Red berries, strawberries, cakes, stem teas, grenadine bonbons, crystallised cherries… Well, it’s getting a little too sweet for me, I have to say, and too bonbony, but there aren’t the kinds of clashes that could happen between Port and malt whisky. Grape and grape! Finish: medium, really sweet now, a little too syrupy for me… Comments: it all started very well, and it is a very fine drop as a whole, but this growing sweetness was not for me. Not quite kid’s mouthwash though (or Toplexil).
SGP:741 - 78 points.

Shouldn’t we do a XO?...

Camus ‘XO’ (40%, OB, Cognac, blend, 2019)

Camus ‘XO’ (40%, OB, Cognac, blend, 2019) Three stars and a half
This one too is ‘intensely aromatic’, Borderies-driven, and was matured in lightly toasted small casks. Colour: dark amber. Nose: it is a fresh XO, not wham-bam, rather self-restrained for a good minute, before ripe and candied fruits would start to take the stage. I’m rather finding ripe melons and peaches at first, then honeydew and even a little mead, then lovely notes of camphor, menthol and pinesap, all proofs of proper aging. Perhaps small touches of sliced pineapples as well, even bananas… This, indeed, is rather intensely aromatic, should you not rush it. Mouth: pretty rich, and much more on raisins than all the other ones. There’s even a small feeling of PX at times, Rivesaltes, Sauternes, then peach skin and quite some green tea (tannins). Gets then frankly jammy (apricots, quinces). Finish: medium, sweet, almost a little bit sugary at times, but that’s no problemo. Stewed rhubarb and Demerara sugar in the aftertaste. Comments: excellent, but I have to say the relative sweetness came as a surprise. I think the 2005 Monbazillac remains my favourite – as always, that’s all from a malt whisky enthusiast’s point of view.
SGP:651 - 84 points.

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