A very interesting example of a heretofore forgotten style of cognac with a much broader, weightier, and complex palette of flavors from the use of Banyul Casks for finishing.
Notes: One of the younger expression in a long line of cognacs this one designed in both taste in profile for mixing, the others being Ambre, Reserve, Reserve Dieux, Selection de Anges, Abel, Ancestrale, and their most prestigious Memoires (Vintages 1914, 1970, 1971, 1973) all the cognacs use only Grand Champagne grapes – many others in the industry only use them in their much more expensive bottlings.
Double distilled in somewhat unusual onion headed copper pot cognac/alembic stills from a base wine with lees (similar to beer with lees -meaning aged unfiltered with particles of wine it in to give it more flavor and depth) it is then aged in French Limousin Oak casks and then later put into Banyuls Fortified Wine casks for finishing.
Please see our adventure section to see photos of the still, barrel aging, and vineyards of this small but amazing cognac house.
This particular expression as mentioned above is designed to replicate the earlier 3 Star style of cognac that was a mainstay in the later 19th century and early 20th century as a style used widely as a mixer and for more casual consumption ( read not lingered over in a snifter with cigars in a plush room, but enjoyed with friends in a bar)
Appearance: Attractive golden wheat/dark straw gold color, leaves a thin coat on swirling. Could be mistaken for a young bourbon in color. Rather heavy-bodied in a nice way. On swirling it starts with a scalloped edge line then forms a few legs.
First Impression: Pears, citrus, caramel, violets, heirloom roses, and some oak and tobacco. A rather sweet for a cognac on the nose with heavy aromas that seem plush and weighty. Reminds me a bit of the (long gone) Moet Chandon Petit Champagne liqueur of years past.
Taste: A heavier, weightier, with a marked presence type of cognac, with intense notes of pear, tree fruits, vanilla, and to a lesser degree of nutmeg, cinnamon, and oak. Lovely warm almost enrobing mouthfeel to it, it is heavy, silky, and weighty like on the tongue. All the elements of a good mixing cognac or a casual sipper.
Drinks: We tried the drinks mentioned on the website, all of them were good, if not exciting. Excellent in a Black Pagoda (basically a brandy Manhattan -see Gary Regan’s Bartenders Bible) and everything else we tried, such as a cognac version of a Horses Neck among many others. A true mixing cognac that has the presence and fortitude to stand up in any drink but plays nicely with all the other ingredients. It also has a heavier mouthfeel and sweetness that should appeal to bourbon drinkers and people looking for an easy sipper or possibly a digestif type cognac with more weight to it than mostWe also found it great for cooking and used it in our quince jam among other uses.
Bottle: Simple clear glass cognac/brandy bottle (not the bell or apple-shaped with a long neck), with an inset area for the main label and a heavy decanter type bottom to it.Neck tag With circular banner of “Cognac Grande Champagne 1 ER Cru De Cognac (informing the reader that the cognac is made from 1st Cru Grande Champagne grapes – the heart of cognac growing area, best there is basically). the letters “PF” stamped on it, making for a nice appearance generally. Somewhat distinctive deep red colored oval/lozenge-shaped label with old gold letters, Along with silkscreened information in the middle and a further rectangular red label with a drawing of the estate and the word “Reserve Top of bottle is nicely finished with patinated bronze gold neck wrap and real cork with a wooden cap.
Other: 1st Cru Grande Champagne grapes twice-distilled in copper alembic pot stills and aged in French oak casks. Also, Pierre Ferrand is very much the tip of the iceberg ( or empire) their portfolios include Citadelle Gin, the ever-expanding Plantation Rum series, and Mathilde Liqueurs and Eau de Vies among others!
Cigars: A good Hemingway natural wrapper, probably a work of art or short story. Something simple but good.
Final Thoughts: While not rising to the level of a go-to favorite, it certainly is a good and very smooth mixing cognac well worth adding to your cognac cabinet. Put it next to a bottle of Royer Force 53 and you should have your mixing cognac options well covered!
A quick-loading, somewhat informative website but somewhat lacking on details at times. Straight-forward and easy-to-navigate.