A 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!
This Christmas the big cognac houses will tell you in very general terms why you should buy their Christmas Cognac either for yourself, or as a gift. The differences in taste and price between one and another will not be significant. The attractive presentation of each cognac will, however, undoubtedly attract millions of customers, but the question I would ask is:
“Do I want to buy an attractive looking presentation or, do I want to buy a cognac that is memorable for its taste and quality and provides great satisfaction when it is drunk?”
To answer this let’s look at the facts behind the production and ageing of blended and single estate cognacs. In order to meet production and sales objectives the large cognac houses blend hundreds of different, young cognacs, made by hundreds or even thousands of different producers. This produces generic blends referred to as VS, VSOP or XO where the highest quality is only required to have been in the barrel, ageing, for ten years. The youthfulness of these blended cognacs means that sugar syrup and caramel will have to be added to hide their fiery qualities.
Single estate cognacs, on the other hand, come from a single producer who ages his cognacs in his own cellar. They will often carry an indication of barrel age, which is likely to be significantly older than ten years and as a result, most will not contain any sugar syrup or caramel.
At Hermitage we take the selection of our cognacs further. We seek pure cognacs from the top cru, Grande Champagne, that have been aged for a minimum of ten years. Hermitage Cognacs are also carefully selected for their individual qualities, lack of fieriness (as this improves balance), and great taste. They don’t cost any more than the heavily blended VSOPs or XOs, but they are a little more difficult to find. Each one must meet our very high standards and may only come as a single batch of a few hundred bottles.
“So, will you buy your cognac this Christmas for the shape of the bottle or the bottle’s contents?”
The Hermitage 45 Year Old Grande Champagne Cognac is one of David's favourite cognacs of all time so this year, we are offering it in a Christmas Gift Set comprising a 20Cl bottle and one of our exclusive Hermitage Cognacs tulip-shaped tasting glasses. It is a wonderful opportunity to try one of our Gold medal winning cognacs at a fraction of the price. These sets are in very limited supply so don't hang about, order yours today.
The Hermitage 45 Year Old is a cognac of great distinction which must not be hurried as the many aromas and flavours need to be discovered slowly. Presented at 44% abv, it is a fabulous Christmas present for the cognac connoisseur.
Not only have we had a record year with the introduction of new Hermitage Cognac vintages, the range has also been awarded an unprecedented number of GOLD Medals. The latest, received from the Luxury Spirits Masters 2019, are for:
Hermitage 1923 Grande Champagne Cognac. A particularly fine example of a 1920s cognac that has taken many decades to reach perfection.
"This has a gorgeous flavour, somewhere between a sultana and a sun-dried apricot with the spirit framing the layers with impeccable integration." Olly Smith, Wines & Spirits Expert
Hermitage 1995 Grande Champagne Cognac. This wonderful cognac comes from the same distillery as our award-winning 1999 vintage but has aged for a longer period, enabling a greater complexity of flavours. It is a rich and beautifully finished cognac, fit for a king.
Craft Vintage Cognacs are rare and finding them is a specialist business as they are unique, and the level of luxury sought is only found in a few of the very finest and oldest cognac firms. Vintage Premier Cru cognacs are in extremely limited supply. Very good, award-winning cognacs are even more rare which is why Hermitage Premier Cru Vintages are not generally available in the wider volume markets. The secret is to find the cellars that still house some of the oldest and rarest nectars still in existence. Many of them belong to families who have, for generations, been producing cognacs. These cognacs have been allowed to gradually mature through the ages, masterpieces forgotten in time. Each special vintage is highly valuable and sealed in glass to preserve its greatness and value for future generations - a superb cognac investment.
Today, increasing demand in the rapidly growing cognac market means that single estate vintages from the top crus are largely swallowed up into generic blends of indeterminate age and quality, their youthfulness obscured by syrups and caramel additives. Less is kept back by individual producers for the family cellars and much of that which is retained, is sold at a relatively early age.
Recent sales of some rare vintages have only served to highlight the value of old vintage cognacs. Prices of more than £200k a bottle were achieved on two occasions and we have seen other mouth-watering prices being paid. But not only have the prices of early pre-Phylloxera cognacs increased, so have the prices of more recent vintages and well-aged cognacs of 60 – 80 years as their availability decreases. It is clear to the experienced cognac specialist that availability of the older ages is on the decline with some of the ‘grand marques’ supplied by the big houses already using lower aged cognacs from lesser crus in their blends. Over the last 5 - 10 years, we have also seen the prices of some well-known commercial cognacs double. Bottles of Remy Louis XIII, which doesn’t even have an age statement, sold for about £1200 six or seven years ago but can now fetch more than £2500. Richard Hennessy sold with a trade price in 2017 of around £1500 sells today at £3500 again, it has no age statement. Clearly this is working to the producers’ advantage as the cognac barrel ages are almost certainly in decline.
Premier cru cognacs from the Champagnes are slow in ageing and naturally aged cognacs from this area will take fifty or more years in cask to develop their natural qualities. Some form of age statement will provide the clearest indication of quality, and therefore value, since age and value are inextricably linked. It is little wonder that clients with larger disposable assets are now investing in these extremely rare, older vintage cognacs. The time to do this is now for we do not know how much longer will we continue to find these old ‘rancio’ brandies that have matured to a rich and valuable glory.
Aged with great care and expertise, this wonderful Grande Champagne cognac has been in an oak barrel for 40 years slowly maturing to its optimum condition. Flavours of plum and vanilla expand into lychee, pear, hay, plum and dried mandarin demonstrating complexity and individuality.
The whole cognac industry began with the little guy, tending his vines and creating outstanding eau-de-vie. Today these small cognac producers, often family run houses, struggle to remain in business, such is the competition they face from the ‘Big 4’. These 4 companies are now so large that each has a brand ambassador, presumably to reflect their core values. Interestingly, Hennessy, Courvoisier and Remy Martin have all chosen a trendy rap star, clearly trying to appeal to the younger market. Martell, on the other hand, has gone for a more stylish, feminine image by choosing Diane Kruger. But what about the smaller cognac producers who use their generations of knowledge to produce the very best, single estate, vintage cognacs – who should they choose? Surely it must be royalty – rare, elegantly presented and steeped in history. Or do you have a better idea?
Across our website we have very special gifts and present ideas for all years of birth but these latest vintage cognacs to arrive in the Hermitage range will be perfect for those celebrating 50, 70 or 80 years in 2020.
From the top cru, Grande Champagne, comes Hermitage 1940 Cognac. A beautifully balanced amber nectar, with aromas of chestnuts and truffles, it was produced in the year Winston Churchill became British Prime Minister and ordered the Dunkirk Evacuation. Also from Grande Champagne comes Hermitage 1950 Cognac - a real joy to taste with flavours including plum crumble with a blood orange peel finish.
Hermitage 1970 Fins Bois Cognac was harvested in the year Concorde made its first supersonic flight. It is rare to find cognacs from the Fins Bois in the Hermitage range but this one is really very special.
There are said to be 5000 cognac producers in the Charente, the vast majority make cognac for the big cognac houses and sell it to them within a couple of years. But some, perhaps around 10%, have learnt to wait until their heavenly nectars have matured for longer. Locked away in dark cellars they gradually develop the individual and very personal qualities of their makers. When you buy a specifically aged or vintage cognac, you are buying the makers’ skills and experiences that have been honed over generations into a single taste experience. Every cognac distillation is different. The very finest come from Grande Champagne and those kept as vintage stock will age for much longer than any generic blend and will develop far greater natural flavours during their long sleep in oak casks.
Blended cognacs are produced to feed the insatiable greed for mass volume sales. The big cognac houses produce very little of their own cognac. More than 99% of the cognacs used in their blends are supplied by the thousands of small growers and distillers in the Charente region. Not only are these cognacs young and still relatively tasteless, when they are mixed with up to 2000 others to provide one generic blend it is impossible to distinguish individual flavours. A blend, even in its finest form (XO), needs only to have been aged in a barrel for 6 ½ years. It is therefore little surprise that every generically blended cognac relies heavily on the addition of sugar syrup and caramel to obscure the fiery and tasteless spirits.
Jean Monnet, the famous cognac producer and politician, once said “The great thing about making cognac is that it teaches you above everything else to wait, but time and God and the seasons have got to be on your side”. I would add to that by saying “Very few know where to find the finest and most individual Premier Cru Cognacs and Hermitage is one of them”.
Frapin has launched a 25 year old vintage cognac, laid down in 1988 and bottled at 41.5% abv. With style characteristic of a Grande Champagne cognac, just 1000 bottles have been produced retailing at £160 a bottle. Compare this with our own award winning Grande Champagne cognacs – Hermitage Chez Richon 1988 which retails for just under £100 and Hermitage Segonzac 25 year old priced at just over £100.