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The French Spirits Forum- Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados

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I've been dabbling in French spirits a little bit. Recently picked up a Famille Esteve Selection Coup de Coeur cognac and I think it's excellent. It reminds me of being in Paris eating Macarons from Laduree because of the distinct floral elements. It also makes me think of some wheaters I've had with a baby powder-ish floral note, but turned up to 11. I'm excited to have my eureka moment with cognac. I get the feeling that if anything can threaten my whiskey obsession this is it.

I really want to track down a bottle of Bouju Royal Brut de Fut. I saw mention online that it would be coming back to the US sometime this year, does anyone know the latest?

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sailor22   
sailor22

Been dabbling a bit also. For me it's been Armagnac and some Germain Robin Brandy's that have really hit the note. Armagnac feels like a step closer to whiskey than the floral grapey character in so many Cognac's. The Germain Robin stuff is always a joy. For me they have a greater depth and bigger flavors than Cognac.

I have had good luck with the K&L Brandy selections. Using the mostly accurate descriptions usually gets a bottle that is in my wheel house.

Kind of lost a little enthusiasm for the Bouju's in the bunker since it was revealed he uses a lot of coloring. I am starting to wonder if that dry bitterness in so much of his stuff that I thought was a unique barrel note, is from over use of the coloring. I'm told it tastes dry and bitter but have never tasted it. I do enjoy the Royal however and also really enjoy the Bouju Tres Vieux BdF. I saw some Bouju on the shelf in Ga. a couple of weeks ago but no Royal, just the Extra and one other, pretty sure it was old stock.

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tanstaafl2   
tanstaafl2

A current interest of mine has been things like Pineau de Charentes, Pommeau de Normandie, Macvin du Jura, Ratafia de Champagne and the like. They seem to share a similar ancestry as they apparently began as a way to preserve fruit juice by adding alcohol (grape in most cases and apple preserved with apple brandy in the case of Pommeau) but were found to develop a delicate sweet character with barrel aging. As a result I don't really think of them so much as variation on wine since fermentation of the juice doesn't fully occur but as more of a cross between port and brandy. Not sure where they would fit. More in the fortified wine category I suppose.

To be honest I don't much care, I just enjoy drinking them! They make a nice aperitif with cheese or a perfectly delightful dessert wine.

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I know there was speculation by Sku and others that Bouju uses coloring, was that confirmed? I'd still love to try a cognac at 60% abv and the reviews I've read make it sound like a must.

I haven't had enough of each to say that I prefer cognac, but out of what I have I like the cognac better. It tasting less like whiskey than armagnac is what makes it more interesting. I'll confess to a sweet tooth as well, as I like wheaters, dessert wines, etc.

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T Comp   
T Comp

Maybe not for Compliance since it tastes more like whiskey but the Domaine de Baraillon 1985 Armagnac from K &L, a kind soul here shared a sample of, is on my fantastic, terrific and delicious list.

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WAINWRIGHT   
WAINWRIGHT

I have leaned towards the Armagnac end of the spectrum and was very impressed with the DeLord 25yr for it's bourbonesque qualities.I really thought it shared a great deal of similarities to an ultra-aged rye based bourbon of which I really enjoyed.Cognac is too grapey for my tastes and would like to branch out in the category as I have tried less than a dozen at best.Calvados is something I have yet to experience and is next on my hit list,any suggestions guys?

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compliance   
compliance

I like everything, which ends up being very bad for the budget

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ChainWhip   
ChainWhip
I like everything, which ends up being very bad for the budget

This! It's an affliction I can live with though ;-)

edit: (absolutely sure the better half disagrees)

Edited by ChainWhip

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sailor22   
sailor22
I know there was speculation by Sku and others that Bouju uses coloring, was that confirmed? I'd still love to try a cognac at 60% abv and the reviews I've read make it sound like a must.

When DD visited Bouju he saw some coloring and asked Bouju about it - Bouju said something like well, everyone does it and no one admits it. I got the sense that was a part of the reason why K&L didn't get any of his juice but I don't remember the comments exactly. Could probably dig back through DD's travel blog and find it.

I like everything, which ends up being very bad for the budget

True dat!

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compliance   
compliance

My first sample of a major house Cognac came on the plane today. Courvoisier VSOP. Not as sweet as I was expecting given the reputation, my Coup De Coeur is sweeter and much more floral. You really have to search for interesting notes in the Courvoisier. Despite hearing that Armagnac is the closest French spirit to bourbon, this was actually very close to (mediocre) bourbon, moreso than my current Armagnac selection. I wasn't expecting much from it, and it didn't deliver much.

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sailor22   
sailor22

That's been my experience with big house Cognac also.

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squire   
squire
I wasn't expecting much from it, and it didn't deliver much.

Well, at least you weren't disappointed.

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Clavius   
Clavius

Drinking some Martell VSOP tonight. The last of a bottle I bought sometime last year. I like the Martell VSOP the best over the other big house VSOP's.

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compliance

Is Hennessy Black worth a try? A lot of the less expensive but higher proof Cognacs are sold as "mixers". Does that mean I should pass? Looking for a nice value cognac to try. Open to recommendations. I'm near K&L so that's my best option for finding things.

edit - I'm also considering the Dudognon Reserve if anyone has thoughts on that one.

Edited by compliance

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BAO   
BAO

Wife picked me up a Delord 30 for our anniversary and I picked up a Dartilongue 40 for my grandmother in laws 80th birthday.

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sailor22   
sailor22

Your wife deserves something special for that!

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I picked up a Navarre Pineau des Charentes Vieux based on Sku's review. I have been meaning to try a Pineau des Charentes so I jumped on it when I saw there were only a couple left. I gave it to my wife as part of our anniversary gift because I think she'll like it too. She knows it's really for me :lol:, was that wrong? http://recenteats.blogspot.com/2013/07/navarre-pineau-des-charentes-vieux.html

While at the store noticed that K&L marked down their Comandon XO 18yo single barrel to $66.99. For almost half the original price I figured I couldn't go wrong with it so that came home with me too.

I'll post up some notes when I get around to them.

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Parkersback   
Parkersback

I realize it's not one of the spirits named in the title of the thread, but green Chartreuse has become a nearly nightly habit for me, either on the rocks, or half and half with gin, a wedge of lemon and drop or two of bitters (which is a sort of modified "Last Word" cocktail).

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tanstaafl2   
tanstaafl2
I realize it's not one of the spirits named in the title of the thread, but green Chartreuse has become a nearly nightly habit for me, either on the rocks, or half and half with gin, a wedge of lemon and drop or two of bitters (which is a sort of modified "Last Word" cocktail).

I also ordered several bottles of the Navarre Pineau des Charentes Vieux based on the SKU review. Don't have the luxury of being able to find it in a local store so still waiting for it to arrive. Hopefully today!

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tanstaafl2   
tanstaafl2

Christmas has come early! My order of Navarre Pineau des Charentes Vieux arrived last night and of course I had to take it for a test run to see if my "investment" made on faith with no first hand experience paid off!

post-8493-1448981949789_thumb.jpg

I am delighted to say it was everything I hoped and more! Unlike Sku my sweet tooth knows no bounds and I am perfectly happy to drink it as the spirit gods intended. Marvelous stuff and I am very happy to have "bunkered" a few bottles.

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You don't mess around! Nice haul and glad you like it. I also have a sweet tooth so I wasn't too worried about Sku's comments regarding that. Is it really only good for 4 weeks once opened? I know the same is true of vermouth and sherry but I have those open for months, although I'm just mixing them. Barrels aren't air tight and it was in one of those for 30 years!

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tanstaafl2   
tanstaafl2

At 34 proof and with that much sugar I doubt it would go bad that quick especially if refrigerated and I keep mine closed with a vacuvin. I have had regular PdC open for much longer than 4 weeks without any problems.

But I doubt it will last that long once open anyway!

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I may have spoke too soon on the sweetness. It's not cognac sweet or dessert wine sweet, it is straight up 'could be made of 50% to 75% honey' sweet. It reminds me of when I make some honey lemon for a sore throat, but switch the lemon juice for cognac. It's decent on its own but I started experimenting with it. It's awesome poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream (I do this with sherry too). It's also great with club soda as Sku suggested. And I substituted it for the vermouth in a Manhattan and got an enjoyable variation on that.

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tanstaafl2   
tanstaafl2
I may have spoke too soon on the sweetness. It's not cognac sweet or dessert wine sweet, it is straight up 'could be made of 50% to 75% honey' sweet. It reminds me of when I make some honey lemon for a sore throat, but switch the lemon juice for cognac. It's decent on its own but I started experimenting with it. It's awesome poured over a scoop of vanilla ice cream (I do this with sherry too). It's also great with club soda as Sku suggested. And I substituted it for the vermouth in a Manhattan and got an enjoyable variation on that.

Mine will likey be consumed as is. All plum and raisin sweetness up front with a lot of body and depth and an undefined fruit component at the back end. Apricot maybe?

Soooo good.

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