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grande champagne cognac

  • Decanter Magazine Features Hermitage Cognacs 1885, 1920, 1923 & 1944

    DecanterDavid Longfield has written in Decanter magazine describing the excitement of  tasting some of our most precious nectars with MD, David Baker.  All produced over 75 years ago, these Grande Champagne vintages are some of the best we have ever stocked.  Here is a snippet of the article to whet your appetite.  The entire piece can be read here.

    "Hermitage Cognac works with top Cognac houses to hunt out small parcels of such old spirits still preserved among the five or six hundred independent producers around the region, looking primarily for those with verifiable vintage dates or age statements that define how long they’ve spent in barrel."

    Longfield goes onto write "The barrel ageing, and the conditions of the cellars in which it takes place, are the critical factors, Baker says: ‘It’s really what fine Cognacs are all about.’  He continues: ‘This ageing process develops [over many years] into what we call “rancio” – a kind of madeirisation, a richness and sweetness. I think this is highly sought-after: a natural richness, not a sugary sweetness.’"

     

  • The Double Rancio Effect

    Double RancioAround 40 years ago I was privileged to be given what today I would describe as, one of the 10 finest cognacs in the world. I was staying at one of the finest hotels in Monaco and the sommelier, whose name was Georges, poured me a glass of A E Dor Hors d’Age No 5, 1840 Grande Champagne. He was seeking my opinion and needless to say, I was completely taken with it.  One of the greatest achievements a cellar master can claim is the production of a balanced cognac with a perfect rancio and this cognac did not disappoint.  Rancio is an intense richness that affects every taste bud in your mouth, providing intense syrupy flavours, as experienced after tasting a 100 year old Malmsley, with the aromas of an old madeira cellar.

    Unbelievably, I have recently found a similarly wonderful cognac, but it has even more exquisite qualities.  Its slightly musty aromas of spices, dried fruit peel, pineapple and roasted nuts combined with dates, liquorice, cocoa and molasses are only an introduction to the intense complexity of aromas and flavours which provide another step of fulfilment in the tasting of fine cognac; one that only a few of us will experience in our lives.  It encompasses the joy of discovering that there is another level of perfection, a perfection that takes a cognac from being one of the ten best to being the very best.  It is the nectar poured from the golden chalice, the pinnacle of perfection and the cognac we can usually only dream about.

    So, what is it that makes this cognac so special? In this very exclusive world of fine cognac the term rancio does not occur often and usually, when it does, we are referring to very old cognacs from Grande Champagne. There is a reason for this. Cognacs from the Premier cru age much more slowly than those from the other crus.  This is due to the soil, or rather I should say chalk, which in the area south of the town of Cognac and north of the river Ne is particularly porous.  The vine roots here can penetrate up to 30 metres into the water margins and as a result, the grapes are fuller producing a more flavourful wine which takes longer to develop in the barrel.

    But it is not the cognac alone that creates a rancio effect. Not so far from the Charente, lie the forests of Limousin where, over hundreds of years, oak has been cut and re-planted to make the barrels in which cognacs are aged. The staves are split and left to age for 5 years before they are cut and formed into barrels. The barrels are toasted just enough to burn off the harmful tannins but leave the good tannins to help mature the new cognac. After some months this new cognac is moved to an older home, into previously used barrels where it will stay until it is decided that the cognac is ready to bottle. This can take up to 80 years when usually all the tannins, lignins and hemi-cellulose in the barrels have been used up and can no longer have an effect on the cognac.  The hemi-cellulose lasts the longest in the wood and it is this that imparts the desirable richness we call rancio.  It was the depth of rancio that made the AE Dor Hors d’Age No 5 so very special but at only 34% abv, the flavours, though easier to detect, may not preserve well.

    Now, imagine what would happen if you aged a Grande Champagne cognac, with all the qualities of AE Dor 1840, in a barrel for 100 years and then put it into another barrel where the hemi-cellulose was still available.  It would provide a ‘double rancio' and that is exactly what happened to one of our cognacs.  It was, after 100 years of ageing, placed back into wood for another 10 - 12 years and the result was the accomplishment of excellence.

    That cognac is our Hermitage 1885 Grande Champagne @46% abv.

  • Remy Martin Buys Brillet Cognac

    Brillet CognacThe Rémy Cointreau Group has announced their acquisition of Maison de Cognac J.R. Brillet which is based at Graves Saint Amant in the Charente.  The Brillet Cognac sale includes 50 hectares of vineyards located in Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne, the Brillet cognacs and Belle de Brillet, a pear and cognac liqueur.   Good to see its ownership remain with a family owned French firm but the big houses often subsume new cognac stocks into huge generic blends where individual flavours are completely lost.  It has taken a year for this sale to be agreed and during that time the Remy Cointreau Group’s sales have been heavily affected by the COVID-19 crisis.  More specifically, the House of Rémy Martin experienced an organic 7.5% drop in sales during 2019/2020.  An interesting time to increase ones cognac production isn’t it?

  • Hermitage Paradis 1880 Grande Champagne Cognac

    1880 Grande Champagne CognacOur latest nineteenth century cognac, Hermitage Paradis 1880 Grande Champagne Cognac, has arrived and what a stunner it is!

    The period from 1870 to 1900 saw cognac houses in France produce some of their finest spirits, a few of which are still available today. This was a period before the official recognition of crus, however, it was widely accepted that the area north of the River Né and south of the town of Cognac produced some of the finest cognacs. The region later became known as Grande Champagne, the premier cru of the six cognac regions in The Charente.

    Like so many of these old finds this exceptional cognac from 1880 has survived several generations, only to come to light after nearly 100 years of ageing in oak casks, slowly developing a unique and very special style and flavour. The cognac has reduced naturally, without the need for dilution or additives. One becomes aware of a deep rancio when bringing it to the nose and on the palate, there is an immediate richness and complexity. This has all the qualities of a seriously well aged cognac. Genuine history in a bottle and a pleasure to drink.

  • Ferrand 10 Generations Cognac

    Ferrand 10 Generations CognacFerrand has released a new Grande Champagne cognac called Ferrand 10 Generations.   It is a tribute to the 10 generations of the Ferrand family that have been present in Segonzac since the 15th century.  Blended from a single grape variety, Ugni Blanc, there is little indication of age so do not be misled by the number 10 on the label.  What does make this bottle different though, is the design of the label.  It appears to be covered with the intricate pattern of vine roots underground.  On closer inspection however, you will see the roots also contain the faces of the 10 family generations. So, if packaging is the most important factor when choosing your cognac, this could be for you!

  • Sixty Years Ago This Cognac Was Conceived

    Sixty Years AgoAny bottle of cognac that is date-stamped, is referred to as vintage and this bottle from 1960 is no exception.  The grapes were harvested that year, sixty years ago, and distilled the following winter before being stored in Limousin oak casks for ageing.  Only the very best cognacs are selected for long term ageing, left in damp cellars for decades.  Now it has reached its optimum maturity, it is joining the award-winning Hermitage range.

    Hermitage 1960 Grande Champagne Cognac is a beautifully complex, fine cognac from the southern part of Grande Champagne.  An initial burst of dark chocolate on the palate is followed by a host of different flavours including pork crackle, liquorice, marzipan, turmeric and kumquat. Perfect for those turning 60 in 2020.

  • Welcome To 2020, Time To Try New Vintages

    2020After the festivities of Christmas and New Year’s Eve it is time to look to the year ahead, 2020.

    We are always on the lookout for interesting cognac vintages from the top crus and the latest additions are no exception.  We have many celebration, cognac vintages ending in a zero for those turning 30, 40, 50 years old and so on.. and we are very excited to announce we now have one for centenarians.  Hermitage 1920 Grande Champagne Cognac was distilled a hundred years ago before being aged for over 70 years in oak casks.  The result is spectacular.

    We also have a new Hermitage 50 Year Old.  Originating in Petite Champagne it is presented at 41% abv to ensure optimum balance.  Big birthdays this year just got a whole lot easier!

  • Tiffon 1995 Grande Champagne Cognac

    Tiffon 1995A new release from Tiffon is the Tiffon 1995 Grande Champagne vintage.  Tiffon, which dates back to 1875, is still a family run business based in Jarnac with the family home, Chateau de Triac, just 5 kms away.  The Chateau, which was demolished in the Hundred Years' War, is in Fins Bois, home to some of their 40 hectares of vines.  They have other vineyards in Grande Champagne.  This 1995 vintage comes from Grande Champagne and as with most 20 year old cognacs from the top cru, should be elegant with good length.  Before you rush out and buy it, however, take a look at another single estate, 1995, Grande Champagne cognac.  The Hermitage 1995 is approximately one third cheaper to buy and is already a Gold medal winner; clearly we are not the only ones who think it is sublime!