I write to you today in a heat of rage as a result of attempting to upload yet another YouTube clip on this page’s channel. I think I can say with absolute confidence that you have never met another human being who despises computers as much as I. There is not enough whiskey in the Republic of Ireland, or the American states of Kentucky or Tennessee combined that would afford me the patience and content to tolerate their incompetent stupidity and unreliability. We’ve all seen movies like The Terminator, iRobot, and Avengers: Age of Ultron that profesize the ideology that artificial intelligence will reach such a level of sophistication that it will overthrow humanity – if all of my experiences with every desktop, laptop, tablet and smartphone I’ve ever used are any indication of their abilities, we have nothing to fear. At least not in my lifetime. But what this does subsequently mean, is it takes a total of seventy-two hours to upload twenty-five minutes worth of footage. My hope is returning to the written-word will help me concentrate my anger into something creative. A medium that has given me little if any arduousity in comparison. So before the accustomed sharp, anger-induced pain in my chest manifests into my inevitable but as yet unoccured heartattack, I feel I should actually do my “job” and write my weekly blog. On the off-chance I actually do snap and toss my computer out of the window and pummel it with the first blunt object that is nearest in a fit of rage, I hope you enjoyed the Relish Food and Wine festival. I’m pleased to say there was certainly an impressive show of local wine from the surrounding areas. And food, a lot of delicious food too of course.
I’m making the addition of some brandy articles in the feed before I return to Irish whiskies after some wine articles. So I’ve returned to another one of my labels I’ve enjoyed at one of my local pubs – St. Rémy, a French brandy. Something I’ve enjoyed on many occasions, and wanted more to know about also. As far as French brandy goes, Cognac may well indeed hold the place as the covergirl brandy that springs to mind at the mere mention of the phrase and will, rightfully, be the go-to of many people under the subject line. But as a result, a great deal of other brandies distilled by the Français fly under the radar. Usually, the line between Cognac and brandy, is clearly drawn. The difference being; that brandy, grown and distilled in the region of Cognac, is Cognac. All others, distilled in Italy, Australia, the Crimea and everywhere in between, are simply brandy, including the ones they feel are of enough significance to fly the flag of their native soil. This being Armagnac. But where this brandy sits in regards is unclear. As I had yet to connect the dots in hindsight, St Rémy, was in fact a manifestation of the label Rémy Martin, that great Cognac label. But how this differs is unknown. It does plainly, sit far apart from the Cognac on the shelves, amongst other miscellaneously distilled brandies. A look through the (web)pages of history sheds some light on the matter. They say it was, that the namesake founder of the label in eighteen-eighty-six, when the Cognac vineyards were struck upon by the phylloxera in what would go down in history as the Great French Wine Blight, went in search of a new vineyards to take advantage of to survive the industry. And zeroed in on the area of Machecoul, an area of France further north of the Charente. Where the vines were unaffected by the pest. A small area of just sixty-six square kilometers. Wherein was grown the Gros Plant species of grape, a similar green-skinned species of grape not dissimilar to the Folle Blanche species that the Rémy Martin label had been capitalizing upon previous to the blight. Acting fast in the face of the crippled wine and brandy industry to keep business afloat, a distillery was made the same year and the St. Rémy label was born. The label, birthed as an emergency substitute for Cognac. That through action, may well have kept the parent label from bankruptcy and going out of business. But the label did well to survive well afterwards. It is said that by nineteen-seventy-two, that the humble St. Rémy was exported to eighty countries. The label, on the website boasts that their brandy is “the world’s leading brandy”, using this phrase more than once.
So the bottle itself, unique in comparison to other uniform bottles. In height, it is indifferent, but the neck of the bottle jets upward from the bottle. While the body sits short, stout and low. The dimensions of it, inverted from the norm. Bearing the seal of “the Walking Lion”, a symbol of the St. Rémy label. The glass, a mysterious impenetrable black. Usually, I enjoy my spirits with an ice sphere. A nice thick ball of ice, that chills the liquor around it but dissolves more slowly than simple rocks ice. But here, in Queensland, we have been blessed with some unseasonably cool weather. Usually, what passes this time of year for winter is merely a less hellish summer. While it may not be winter by Russian or Canadian standards or any other winter wonderland, it is certainly a welcome change here. It is a novelty to see Queenslanders walk around in long sleeved jackets of varying durability, while simultaneously wearing the standard shorts and sandals. But what this means, is as opposed to all but one of my spirits reviews, ice is unrequired to tame the heat of neat spirits. There’s only so many times I can enjoy brandy or whiskey neat, so I make the best of it while it lasts. So tonight, I will be granted the conditions allowing me at last use a Glencairns glass. The nose of St. Rémy, left of centre of the norm of brandy. Brandies, almost always, boast an abundance of cinnamon sugar thick upon the nose. This, by comparison, thick though it is, is that of rich caramel, and chocolate. Delicious and flirtatious. A sting of sweetness. The taste; An indulgence of biscuity chocolate, like TimTams, raisins and caramel. A deeper tone surprisingly.
In summary: While it had been a while since I had last had this brandy, it is of a different profile than I remember. Not a thick fruity sensation, more a dark dense taste, like a bar of dark chocolate with caramel and raisins throughout. But this does not surprise me logically. Cognac, uses Folle Blanche, St Rémy uses Gros Plant. You cannot compare an Alsatian to a Greyhound and expect it to be a rabbiter. This is a separate animal entirely. As you would, quite rightfully be faulted to compare a Machecoul to a Cognac. Whereas for where this stands, this is a rightfully important, and honorable brandy. If a Cognac were a cinnamon bun or a mince meat pie, this would the aforementioned dark chocolate and caramel raisin bar. Dark and intense and indulgent. So now if the internet will excuse me, it’s currently a not-at-all hellish mere seventeen degrees Celsius, and I’m going to enjoy a nice French brandy in front of the fireplace. Cheers