G’day guys. I’ve had a full week to write this article and I only just started writing this now, if my high school English teacher knew this he’d probably rap me round the knuckles. My mind has been elsewhere engrossed in studies trying to salvage something of my life learning a trade, but until or if that happens, this blog is still my baby. I’m returning to a topic now, that I probably fixate on a little too strongly in regards to others. But one that others too apparently gravitate too likewise. Cognac. Specifically, Rémy Martin. Had I known that last week’s St. Rémy was connected to it, and the name wasn’t just a coincidence (the two names being so alike, never even crossed my mind) I would have written on something else. Oh well, no harm no foul.
Terroir plays a big part on the quality and flavor of all liquor, and in fact all fruits, grains and vegetables that the sum of their parts which create anything we eat or drink. In my lesser-educated days, I knew this had an effect on wine of course. But I was yet to learn that the same principle applied to spirits likewise. That distillation does not simply boil the hell out of it. Cognac, like many famed vineyards, evolved from an ancient seabed. The labourers in the vineyards of Cognac are still unearthing limestone fossilized shells from the days the area was warm, shallow ocean. But the significance of this article, is the name-mentioned area of Champagne. Champagne, here does not refer to that other French speciality, the bubbly wine for celebrations. Nor the namesake area in which it is created, that region of wineries lay over four hundred kilometers away west on the opposite side of France. The word Champagne, in this tense, refers to the old French word campagne, simply meaning town. A specified area, divided into two parts that surround the city of Cognac; the Petit Champagne, and the Grande Champagne. The names of the two little areas are not said lightly, as in the area of Cognac nonetheless, they are said to be the best of the area. The best of the best, if you will. And the best – the vintage Cognac the Nineteen-fifteen Grande Champagne, it’s name whispered in hush tones. As it’s said to be the best ever made. Part of the reason it achieves this highly praised reputation, is the earth in which the vines are rooted is said to unchanged from anywhere between eighty-three to seventy-two million years. Soil made up of a mix of water-retaining clay that keeps the vines hydrated during the hot summer months, and crumbly-chalk that the roots of the vine can easily break through and go deep into the soil. As well as absorb many beneficial minerals that is said to give the cru it’s remarkable aroma. The area, Grande Champagne, I read in books is the “premier cru”. The area, a humble thousand hectares strong of little more than grapevines. A phrase, that by this point I was confident I knew what it meant before I used the pre-internet Google (books) is the combination of the two terroirs, is known by the name that this bottle coincidentally bears; Fine Champagne. Something that is to be expected of an eighty dollar bottle I bought last year with birthday gift cards.
Something I in actuality forgot I possessed until I was filing away a vintage port from this year’s Relish. So I took it out and snapped a few photos with it for this article up the posher end of town, in the park facing the golf course. The box it comes inside, surprisingly plain and unimpressive. Simply a cardboard box, albeit glossy and decorated but nothing more. The bottle itself, a frosted grey bottle in appearance, but viewed in the right light is in actuality a wine bottle green, a trademark of the Rémy Martin label. And bears a golden-coloured logo of the label, depicting a centaur throwing a spear, signifying the unison of man and nature represented by the production of such a liquor. The centaur, it needs be said also represents the astrological sign Sagittarius, the sign of a descendant of the founder who bequeathed the label the logo – Paul-Emille Rémy Martin, his respective grandson. I open the bottle, upon breaking the seal of the cork, the nose is remarkably subtle. No overpowering aroma of Christmas cake, hot minced pie. A woody, subdued but distinct scent of plum, raisin and an aftertone of caramel. Poured into a glass freed from the confines of the bottle, in the channelling vessel of a Glencairns glass, the Cognac smells of pure, uncompromised Christmas cake, sewn together with the ever present nose of unmistakable and unapologetic oak. None of the expected noses of cinnamon sugar or nuts. And so to taste. A taste of oak, is to first to greet me. And welcomes me to a whole taste of rosie sweetness and creamy texture of caramel, as well as raisins, Christmas cake, dark chocolate. While a deep, dark and rich sensation of spice rasps at the taste buds amorously.
The summary: Let’s not play dumb here, if you buy an eighty dollar bottle of spirits, you expect quality. You expect the label to put the work in to justify such a pricetag. That this, Cognac of all things is nice. And let’s be honest, Cognac brandies are like chocolate milks – even the worst one is still great. But let’s break this one down. This bottle, embodies the two regions of the terroir, the like of which, have outranked the rest of the globe. And in doing so, have hammered home this article’s preface, that the terroir directly dictates the quality of the fruits implanted unto it’s occupation. And that this bottle, this femininely-beautiful soothing-tasting liquor is merely the V.S.O.P., that were I blindfolded would have on all accounts have assumed was an X.O., shows the full potential of the vino of the Charente. This bottle, goes amongst the savers. Right next to my Jack Daniels Single Barrel Select, that I had one glass of in January and immediately put aside for future indulgence. Cheers