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.
The Bottle Story
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:
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
We were disappointed to read earlier this year that Cognac Renault has created ‘a new innovation - an expression specifically designed to pair with coffee’ - called Renault Avec. Quite simply this is not the case. Hermitage Cognac launched its Café 20 Cognac in the Autumn of 2016 and it is already well established in the marketplace as a coffee accompaniment. Provenance is not the only difference. Renault have blended cognacs from 3 different crus aged between 3 and 8 years. They are ‘not attempting to create a big, powerful cognac’ so have treated the barrels differently to affect the flavour.
Hermitage Café 20 on the other hand, has flavours of mocha, coffee and roasted walnuts, comes from the top cru and has been aged for 20 years.
Our Cognac Buyer has been super busy recently and these latest additions to the Hermitage range are astonishingly good! Both are from the top cru, Grande Champagne. They are wonderful examples of spirit that has been aged naturally, in oak casks, for decades. Indeed they are two of the best cognacs in our portfolio.
Hermitage 1948 Grande Champagne Cognac has been in wood for more than half a century. Distilled 70 years ago it is remarkable, rich and complex and has developed a wonderful, rich rancio which lasts on the palate for a very long time.
Hermitage 45 Year Old Grande Champagne Cognac. This is a cognac of great distinction which must not be hurried. The many aromas and flavours need to be discovered slowly. Its intense rancio is worthy of an even older Grande Champagne cognac.
Does this bottle shape remind you of something? It looks remarkably like the iconic Louis XIII Cognac presentation from Remy Martin to us! So why would Camus choose to put their latest release in a copy of such a well-known carafe? Perhaps they are hoping it will make consumers look twice? The new Camus XO presentation also contains a new product. Still blended, and only aged for a minimum of 6 years, this release comes from a single estate in the Borderies cru. Although only the 3rd cognac cru, Borderies can produce some wonderfully flavoured cognac. But in our experience, this only occurs after decades of ageing - take our Hermitage 1914 for example.
Our latest release, Hermitage Cognac Marie Louise, is a 60-Year-Old Grande Champagne from one of the region’s top artisan producers. This astonishing creation has been described as “lining one’s mouth with velvet” and is a precious and rare investment. At 43% abv it has all the complex aromas and flavours one would expect from such a well-aged cognac.
It is offered in a limited first run of 50 one litre decanters produced by Cumbria Crystal. They are the last producer of completely hand-blown and hand-cut, full-lead luxury English crystal in the UK. The intensity and depth of flavours created by its careful distillation and ageing have created a masterpiece of smoothness and an intensely rich rancio found only in the rarest of cognacs. This truly great cognac is named after Marie Louise, the second wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. She bore his son who was given the title 'Roi de Rome' and who later became Napoleon II.
Our finest release to date, Hermitage Cognac Marie Louise made it into the Saturday Telegraph two months in a row. Initially, on 4 November, Victoria Moore wrote a fascinating piece about our MD, David Baker, Hermitage Cognacs and of course Cognac Marie Louise. On 2 December she included details of the wonderful 60 plus year old cognac in the Luxury supplement.
Hermitage Cognac Marie Louise is available from Hedonism Wines, Corney and Barrow, Chelsea Vintners and our Brandyclassics website and is proving to be a real hit this Christmas.
The name 'Hardy Legend 1863' sounds as if it is an exceedingly valuable pre-Phylloxera cognac from the nineteenth century. (The Phylloxera outbreak swept through French vineyards in about 1875). Cognacs produced before this time were made with Folle Blanche and Colombard grapes. Today they are extremely rare and valuable. The name of this new, US release refers to the year the firm Hardy was established. The bottle contains cognac aged for up to 12 years and is a blend of Petite Champagne and Borderies. It is made from the more modern Ugni Blanc grapes. Still a family firm, A Hardy has been around a long time. This bottle costs about £50 so do not be duped into thinking it is a bargain from years ago - our pre-Phylloxera cognacs retail at £6000 upwards. Compare it also to our single estate, Grande Champagne 10 Year Old Cognac, Hermitage Provenance 10, which is priced at just £46 a bottle.
We are delighted to announce the addition of yet another Hermitage Ville Ancienne cognac to our range. This particular vintage is proving to be a rarity. Hermitage 1947 Grande Champagne Cognac has flavours of sweet spices, ripe medlars, muscat grapes, ripe plums and cocoa. Superbly balanced, it has developed a good rancio. We don’t expect it to be available for long!
This cognac was distilled 70 years ago in 1947. That year, George Marshall outlined the ‘Marshall Plan’ which set out to rebuild Western Europe after the second World War. Also, the future British Queen, Princess Elizabeth II wed Lt Philip Mountbatten in Westminster Abbey, London.
The Last Drop Distillers, recently bought by Sazerac, has released a limited run of a 1947 Hors d’Age Cognac. Distilled just after the end of World War II, just 186 bottles are in existence. Each bottle has been filled by hand, wax sealed and presented in a red leather case along with a 50ml miniature. The bottling also includes a certificate of authenticity, a leather-bound tasting booklet and a custom-made stopper. It is an attractive presentation but before you feel compelled to part with £3,200 for one, check out the competition first. Hermitage 1947 Grande Champagne Cognac is a real gem from the same year. Traditionally presented, it can be purchased for a mere £711.34.