Wow, that is an impressive name for an armagnac, but what does it actually mean? The Chabot vintage, 1998 is the year the grapes used to make the armagnac were harvested. By regulation, distillation of these grapes would have been completed by the following March (1999) when it became Compte (Aged) 0. Therefore, on 1 April 2000 it became Aged 1 and so in 2018, this armagnac was Aged 19 years. An interesting fact as it was released this year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong Airport. Vintage armagnacs will be aged in a number of casks (each usually holding 250 – 350 litres). This Limited Edition of 210 bottles has been drawn from just one of the 1998 casks so the contents of each bottle will be identical. Armagnac from the other casks of the same vintage will be similar but not necessarily identical. Having taken 30 litres out of one cask, the remaining armagnac may continue to age in its wood for release as a more mature 1998 vintage at a later date. A complicated explanation but it is always worth knowing what you are buying. Indeed, some very good armagnacs were made in 1998, all of which are single estate, if not single cask.
Brandy Bottle Reviews
1805 Cognac Massougnes fetches over £200,000 through London fine wine merchant Hedonism Wines
Hermitage Cognacs have provided one of the most expensive bottles of cognac ever sold in the UK, which has just been sold by London Fine Wine merchant, Hedonism Wines, for over £200,000. The imperial three-quarter gallon bottle of Cognac Massougnes was acquired by Hermitage Cognacs some 20 years ago from Marie-Antoinette des Allées, Comtesse de la Bourdelière, whose family owns the former Cognac producing estate.
Hermitage Managing Director David Baker takes up the story:
“In over 30 years of buying and selling cognac, this 1805 is one of the oldest and rarest I have ever come across. Massougnes produced historically famous cognacs pre-Phylloxera (the louse which devastated most of France’s vineyards in the 1860s), and we have dated their records back to at least 1730, making them the oldest known growers and sellers of brandies.
“At its peak the property covered 346 hectares, and Marie-Antoinette, who is the last remaining descendant of this famous family has written a charming note about the ‘life’ of this extraordinary cognac, which was created in the same year as the Battle of Trafalgar.”
Marie-Antoinette des Allées is a direct descendant of Louis VII and Eleanor of Aquitaine and their children, King Richard of England and King John.
Hermitage is focused on selling only the very best Grande Champagne cognac. Hermitage Cognacs have since 1987 established a peerless reputation as suppliers of the very finest cognacs from old family houses where traditions and skills date back over hundreds of years. It is thanks to Hermitage’s unique relationships, forged over decades, that they have access to the best examples, each one uniquely different, with examples such as this dating back to the end of the 19th Century and beyond.
This is the second such bottling from Massougnes which Hermitage have been able to source; another bottle sold for a similar sum in 2016. The identity of the purchaser has not been disclosed.
Here at Brandyclassics we specialise in finding the very best cognacs available to sell under our own label, Hermitage. We painstakingly search out those hidden gems, that have been ageing in cellars since the year they were made, for our customers to enjoy. Sometimes only a barrel or two are available and when they are empty, the last drop of the vintage has gone.
Four of these unique, vintage Hermitage cognacs have less than 10 bottles remaining so this is a fantastic opportunity to acquire an exceptionally rare, exquisite cognac from a bygone era. These precious few bottles really are the last drops available of:
Another fantastic result for the Hermitage stable as three of our newest additions are awarded prestigious medals at this year's International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC 2018). GOLD OUTSTANDING Medals were received by our latest vintages:
Hermitage 1948 Grande Champagne Cognac. Judges comments: "On the palate this cognac is extremely rich and concentrated. Perfectly balanced."
Hermitage 1944 Grande Champagne Cognac. Judges comments: "Absolutely superb! Do not wait to drink this."
All three of our winners are from the top cru as a GOLD Medal was also awarded to the Hermitage 30 Year Old Grande Champagne Cognac. Judges comments: "Powerful yet elegant on the palate. Very complex, very long finish."
We are really excited about the latest Hermitage 1944 Cognac to make it onto our shelves.
Distilled almost 75 years ago and aged for more than half a century, the Hermitage 1944 Grande Champagne Cognac is truly wonderful. It has a rich complexity of aromas and flavours which last for ages on the palate and they are all wrapped up in a rich rancio .... what more could you wish for?
This really is a little bit of cognac heaven.
This is a very young, vintage cognac (aged for 3 years) but with an interesting history.
It was produced to mimic the pre-Phylloxera style; that is using the single grape variety Folle Blanche from the Bon Bois cru. It is also a single cask vintage with a higher that average alcohol content at 41.3% (although pre-Phylloxera cognacs were often left at cask strength). The Folle Blanche today accounts for only 10% of grapes grown in the region as the majority were decimated in the pre-Phylloxera outbreak and the rootstocks now in use are better suited to cropping Ugni Blanc grapes. Cognacs from Bon Bois are also now much less popular as even the big houses tend to look no further afield than Fin Bois. That said, the Comandon 2012 Cognac is an interesting idea, which we will sadly probably never get to taste, as only 120 bottles were produced for the American market
Pineau des Charentes is a combination of freshly pressed grape juice and cognac. It comes in two colours, white and red (sometimes known as rosé) and as with cognac, the flavour is affected by its age. Young Pineau is fruity and light whilst older Pineau offers more complex and concentrated flavours with distinctive fresh fruit tones morphing into dried fruit and nuts. Produced exclusively in France's Cognac region, it has been protected under AOC status since 1945. As a result, this spirited wine benefits from the long-standing expertise and historical know-how of Cognac cellar-masters. It is unique with its aromatic palette and versatility. Wine drinkers are seduced by white Pineau’s balanced profile, while others prefer the generosity of red. Both are food-friendly and pair perfectly with savoury dishes such as fish, white meats or seafood. Pineau’s lightness and alcohol content of 17%, also make it suitable as a digestive or aperitif. While some relish old reds that pair beautifully with chocolate, light cheese, and coffee, others fall for aged whites as great partners of blue cheeses. Alternatively, when summer has arrived, it can be enjoyed at any time as a long, refreshing cocktail such as Pineau Royale or Pinojito.
Another company seeking to recreate a cognac from a past era (see The Bottle Story) is Larsen. A barrel of their 40 year old Cognac has been transported to a 20-metre-high sea fort, at the mouth of the River Charentes, where it will remain for several months. The aim is to replicate the ageing conditions that Cognac would have undergone hundreds of years ago and see how maritime weather affects the finished product. Larsen’s Cellar Master said: “Traditionally, in the 18th and 19th centuries, shallow boats were loaded with barrels of Cognac before crossing oceans to markets all over the world. The sea and sea travel had an unquestionable influence on the final ageing of the eaux-de-vie.” This barrel will form part of Larsen’s new ‘Hymne au Voyage’ range, which aptly translates as ‘tribute to travel’. Although this latest idea has been dubbed experimental, remember that ‘early landed’ cognacs, which mature in UK cellars, have also made a sea voyage to their final ageing destination.
We often have requests to do a Brandy Bottle Valuation and whilst sometimes a bottle can have a high value, most brandy valuations will disappoint most people.
The term brandy is generic and covers any alcoholic drink reduced or distilled from a fruit. This includes Spanish brandies, grappa, marc and grape brandy (which can be used for semi-production purposes, for example fortifying port or sherry). This group of brandies will usually include the name brandy on the bottle but by law cannot include the names armagnac, calvados or cognac. If no identifying descriptions appear on the label we can assume it is a grape brandy which is not controlled by an authority and has minimal value.
The main French brandies have tight controls on their production and storage. For this reason, we know that if a bottle is labelled cognac, armagnac or calvados it will have been produced and aged in the approved manner.
Cognac ageing to its optimum quality in oak casks can take many years. In the case of cognacs from the top crus this can be up to 90 years. Armagnacs and calvados take rather less time. The requirement for this long barrel ageing increases its cost of production and therefore value. New oak casks cost around 700 euros each and storing the older casks, used for extensive ageing, requires sizeable, quality cellars. On the other hand, grape brandies may only be aged for a year and heavily diluted with water. Consequently, even quite good grape brandies only cost a couple of euros per litre to produce.
A highly valued cognac, armagnac or calvados will have one of these appellations named on the label together with an age statement or vintage. The level of the brandy in the bottle, the quality of the seal, the shape, size and type of bottle, the colour and the clarity of the spirit are also important. Then of course there is the name of the producer or negoçiant and the region where the brandy was produced. Much information about its value can be gained by knowing how it was distilled, the quality of the strata and sub-strata as well as the cellar in which it was aged. If the bottle owner can provide a provenance for it, that also helps.
If, on the other hand, your old bottle of brandy that has been stored for the last 50 years, does not mention cognac, armagnac or calvados on the label and does not provide an age statement of any sort, I am afraid that your bottle will be virtually worthless. It is also worth noting that retail values of old brandies are more than twice the trade or auction values since it can take many years to sell even a top quality bottle of fine cognac.
If you have a bottle of brandy that you would like valued, please refer to our Valuation Service which can be found on the home page of our website.
We are delighted to announce that three of our Hermitage Cognacs range were awarded medals at the recent Spirits Business Cognac Masters Competition. Almost 40% of our Hermitage range now have a Masters or Gold Medal.
Our highly-prized Hermitage Cognac Marie Louise was presented with a Masters Medal in the Vintage - Single Estate category. The judges commented that “when a cognac is done well, it is exceptionally good at ageing”.
Gold Medals were also awarded to two other vintages. Our Hermitage 45 Year Old Grande Champagne Cognac clearly wowed the judges as well as ourselves, as did the Hermitage 1958 Borderies Cognac. The judges particularly enjoyed the “toffee, tobacco and toast” aromas which led to “bread, peach and butterscotch” on the palate.