Maxime Trijol VS Cognac

Type: Brandy 

Origin: Cognac, France  

ABV: 40% 

Malt Mileage rating: Stars 3.5

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Maxime Trijol VSOP Cognac

Type: Brandy 

Origin: Cognac, France  

ABV: 40%  Continue reading “Maxime Trijol VSOP Cognac”

DEAU Black

deau cognac

Rating: stars 4.5

Origin: Cognac, France

Type: Brandy

ABV: 40%

Price: $US150-$200 (USA)

DEAU Black is comprised of eaux-de-vie made from grapes that have grown in the Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne regions of Cognac. DEAU mature this eaux-de-vie in new oak casks, which, being untouched virgin wood, would likely infuse the Cognac with heavy wood flavours. DEAU then move the brandy to older casks, which impart less tannins into the Cognac but still serve to mature the spirit.  DEAU Black takes its name from the colour of the tasting glasses that were used during blind tastings of the Cognac, a practice which I can only imagine is used to ensure the tasters are not prejudiced by the colour of the Cognac and instead only rely on aroma and taste. 

Nose:

The aroma of tropical fruits is first noticeable, with lychee, pineapple and other tropical fruit in syrup being most prominent. The layers of tropical fruit are accompanied by creamy chocolate, spice, bay-leaf, eucalyptus, honey, soy, BBQ Chinese pork, sizzling sweet and sour with pineapple, pine nuts, pistachio baklava, hazelnut gelato, lemon curd, menthol Turkish delight, truffle oil, walnuts, old leather and Christmas cake with icing.   

Palate:

The tropical fruit notes move seamlessly from the nose, but the lychee is fresh and the pineapple syrupy and tinned. Refreshing menthol then emerges with orange peel, citrus oils, sweet infused tea, fresh flowers, cocoa and curry powder. Mild wood notes and rigid spice, similar to cracked pepper, develop at mid-palate when the Cognac is aerated and slurped. 

Finish:

On the finish the palate is prickled by mild spices which are softened by sugars, glazed cherries, mild nutmeg, the taste of a freshly opened cigar box and teas galore – watery rose gray tea develops into a raw sugar sweetened milky earl grey tea, and then mildly nutty Russian Caravan tea with milk.  The taste of milk chocolate, nuts and red gum honey lingers as the tea notes fade. 

Bottom line:

Buy it, if you can find it and it is within your budget. This is a Cognac that glows with delicious flavours often associated with very old Cognac – find lychee and tropical fruit, eucalyptus and other notes. This is a serious Cognac, for the serious Cognac aficionado. 

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Maxime Trijol Classic XO

Maxime Trijol XO

Rating: ★★★

Origin: Cognac, France

Type: Brandy

ABV: 40%

The Maxime Trijol Grand Classic range consists a blend of eaux-de-vie made from mostly Ugni Blanc grapes that have been been grown in various Cognac “crus”, and then matured in French oak.  Information about which “crus” make up the Grand Classic range are particularly difficult to find, which gives me the impression that this information is not available from official sources. Make of it what you will, but as the below tasting notes show, the Maxime Trijol Classic XO seemed a somewhat slumber Cognac that may not appease serious Cognac drinkers.

Nose:

Minty toothpaste, peppery spice, papaya, dried dates, pitted prunes, brandied orange, lemon peel and soft black licorice emerge in what is quite a sugary bouquet, which is occasionally broken up by the occasional sting of alcohol and whiff of powdered milk.

Palate:

Fruit, dried figs, raisin, mild spice, oak and milk chocolate are soon overtaken by a minty freshness, and the palate then sweetens again with the faint flicker of spices.

Finish:

The finish is Sweet and syrupy with notes of cherry jubilee, chocolate sauce and toasted marshmallow.

Bottom line: 

Consider buying it, if you like Cognac with a sugary sweet edge. Maxime Trijol XO was a very enjoyable Cognac, though it did strike me as somewhat one dimensional with an over emphasis on fruit and sugars. That is by no means a bad thing, because it just comes down to taste. If you are after a fine sipping Cognac with sweet sugary notes, buy it. If you are looking for a Cognac with more rigid wood spice and adventurous rancio notes, stay away. It did not really strike a chord with me, and I doubt this Cognac will entertain the serious brandy aficionado. For most of the population, though, it seems to be a good XO cognac.

Match with: 

This Cognac serves as a great palate cleanser, and it matched particularly well with more bitter or tangy desserts – dark chocolate, citrus or fresh raspberry based desserts, for example.

Croizet XO Gold

Croizet XORating: ★★★★

Origin: Cognac, France

Type: Brandy

ABV: 40%

Price: A$179 (Aus), $US100 (USA)

Croizet XO Gold is made up of eaux-de-vie made from grapes that have been grown in the Grande Champagne region of Cognac in France, which is probably the most sought after Cognac “cru” because the chalky soil in Grande Champagne is known to help produce grapes that can be made into brandy with qualities for which Cognac is famous – finesse is among them. Once the grapes are made into wine and the wine is distilled into brandy, Croizet place the brandy in French oak barrels for a minimum of 10 years so that it can mellow and draw out flavours from the oak.

Nose: 

Soft fig, dates, brandied cherries and almond sit beneath wood notes that waft up with spices – at first pine and cedar is most noticeable, and then varnished wood hits the nostrils as it tingles with a teasing sweetness and lashes of dryness that is almost Oloroso or Fino cask in character. As the brandy rests, mint notes develop with licorice – quite toothpasty, if that’s a word, but delightful all the same. The fruit then sweetens, and it morphs into raspberry confectionery as hints of cocoa, vanilla, ground coffee and cigarette tobacco liven up the bouquet. The spice is the star of the show, so subtle and yet so vivid with its fiery pepper undertones carrying cardamom, cloves and dried chilli. Something savory then flickers, similar to Worcestershire sauce but for the Mexican aficionados among you also resembling Chipotle sauce. Just when the aroma dims from an overtired nose, mushrooms sautéed in butter and some pepper leap out.

Palate:

On the palate the brandy is initially smooth with the crystalline sugary sweetness of marmalade, dried dates and glazed cherries, and then the oak hits at mid-palate with lots of spice. The ethanol progressively becomes more aggressive in-tandem with the increasingly prominent oak notes, with anise seed from the eaux-de-vie brightening up the palate with mint – this is a distiller’s dream, the alcohol itself is really interesting even without the oak influence.

Finish:

The finish is drying and bitter, with notes of vinegar and saffron intermingling with a mildly sweet pear salad with balsamic and salt.

Bottom line:

Buy it. Croizet XO Gold is an interesting, complex and entertaining brandy that offers a variety of flavours that marry together nicely. The oak is big and bold, but the fruity heart of eaux-de-vie softens it at the right times to make for a cognac that is extremely drinkable. This is not a boring Cognac. Far from it. This is a Cognac that kept me sniffing and tasting with interest, and with each sniff and taste new aromas and flavours would emerge. It is a bit steeply priced for an XO Cognac, but its price is not overly excessive and I think it offers decent – though by no means excellent – value for what you are getting.

Match with:

A mild to medium cigar, such as a Macanudo or a Romeo y Julieta compliment the Cognac nicely. As for food, this struck me as a versatile Cognac that went well with a variety of foods.

DEAU Louis Memory

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Rating: ★★★★

ABV: 40%

Origin: Cognac, France

Try it with: Romeo y Julieta No 1 cigar (Cuba)

Romeo y Julieta No 1

DEAU is a cognac producer with a rich history spanning several generations of the Bru Legaret family. Despite such a rich history its eaux-de-vie was mostly used by other cognac houses in France until quite recently, but nowadays the Bru Legaret family produce cognac under their own brand: DEAU, in honour of Louis Deau who settled in the Cognac region of France during the reign of Louis XIV.

Malt Mileage has been extremely lucky to secure cognacs comprising the DEAU Cognac range, including the DEAU VS, VSOP, Napoléon, XO, Black and Louis Memory. In this post Malt Mileage reviews the DEAU Louis Memory.

Cognac Louis Memory is made from grapes grown in the much revered Grande Champagne region of Cognac in France, the oldest of which were harvested at the beginning of the 20th century and the youngest were harvested in the 1970’s according to DEAU. That makes the youngest cognacs in the bottle at least 35 years old and the oldest around 100 years old or a little more.

Perhaps the most striking quality of the DEAU Louis Memory in my tasting of it was how well its flavours matched a good quality cigar. On hitting the tongue, the cognac was fruity with waves of soothing vanilla creaminess and this washed away the aftertaste of the cigar, and with the palate refreshed the cognac began to emit bright shades of eucalyptus and mint amidst the fruity undertones as a nuttiness began to emerge towards the finish with hints of umami. It was that flicker of umami on my taste buds that signaled I was ready for another puff of the cigar, and with that puff the remaining nutty and umami notes from the cognac accentuated beautifully the smooth tobacco smoke of the Romeo y Julieta No 1 Cuban cigar. The DEAU Louis Memory struck me as a cognac that is – whether I am right or wrong – designed for cigars in mind because the shades of rancio evident in its flavour profile cleared the palate up to mid-palate but towards the finish the emerging nuttiness and umami notes accentuated the proceeding puffs of the cigar.

The bouquet is quite fragrant, fruity and floral with notes of lavender, menthol, licorice, cigar tobacco, coconut, red candy, ripe peach, perfumed soap and hints of ground coffee with undertones of peanut satay. On the palate shades of rancio shine brightly – fruit, waves of soothing vanilla creaminess and hints of earthy mushroom and soy sauce emerge on the entry, then brightening eucalyptus and menthol notes emerge at mid-palate only to fade into the finish, gradually replaced by a nuttiness and umami character.

DEAU Napoléon

DEAU NapoleonScore: 91/100

ABV: 40%

Origin: Cognac, France

DEAU is a cognac producer with a rich history spanning several generations of the Bru Legaret family. Despite such a rich history its eaux-de-vie was mostly used by other cognac houses in France until quite recently, but nowadays the Bru Legaret family produce cognac under their own brand: DEAU, in honour of Louis Deau who settled in the Cognac region of France during the reign of Louis XIV.

Malt Mileage has been extremely lucky to secure cognacs comprising the DEAU Cognac range, including the DEAU VS, VSOP, Napoléon, XO, Black and Louis Memory. In this post Malt Mileage reviews the DEAU Napoléon Cognac.

A Napoléon cognac is one that is aged in oak barrels for least six years, which means that it is aged for the same minimum time as an XO cognac. They are usually marketed however as the middle ground between a VSOP and XO Cognac. The DEAU Napoléon Cognac is taken from eaux-de-vie grown in the first crus of the Cognac region, Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Fins Bois and Bons Bois. This means that it is a blend of cognacs produced from grapes that are grown in these different parts of the Cognac region, so the distiller appears to be aiming for its own unique product that does not too heavily rely on the traits associated with eau-de-vie from a particular region.

The bouquet is quite rich and presents with the aromas of dried fruit, raspberry candy, spice, licorice and the vegetal burn of wasabi peas. On the palate the cognac has a smooth entry and bursts with rich dried fruit, licorice, blackberries and the brightening glow of mint with undercurrents of something lush and vegetal. On the finish the underlying fruitiness of the eaux-de-vie recedes, giving way to cherry liquor dark chocolate and transparent oak tannins that gently dry the palate.

Overall, DEAU Napoléon Cognac is a dangerously drinkable cognac that is vibrant, fruity, sweet and sensationally smooth with a balance that seems to err towards the eaux-de-vie over the oak. It is a cognac that I particularly enjoy sipping while being fixated on my favourite show, because it is extremely “more-ish”, flavoursome and yet simple.

Hine Homage

Hine homageScore: 87/100

ABV: 40%

Origin: Cognac, France (aged in the UK)

Price: $120

Hine Homage is a blend of “early landing cognacs” from three vintages – 1984, 1986 and 1987 – that were distilled from fermented grapes grown in the Grande Champagne region of Cognac, known as the best place to grow grapes for cognac due to its chalky soil. In an interesting twist, these vintages were matured in the United Kingdom together with some extra old cognacs that had already been aged in Hine’s warehouse in Jarnac, France.

An “early landed cognac” is a cognac that reaches British shores before it is two years old and is then aged. They have an interesting character that is different to their cousins that are aged in Cognac, France. The cold temperature in England means that the cognac absorbs the oak flavours differently than in France. The cold of England may tighten the oak pores and cause the alcohol to drop without much evapouration, which in turn means that cognac aged in England may not soak up the colours and flavours of oak barrels (and the cellars) as much as cognac aged in France. “Early landed cognac” tends to offer more crisp fresh fruit and grape but less wood influence than cognac of similar age matured in France. This one, for instance, offers crisp clean fruit but without the cheesy truffle notes commonly associated with “rancio” (a characteristic often seen in Cognac aged for at least 10 years). That pronounced fruitiness means that the aromas and flavours of the grape and particular vintage years can be explored.

The vintages – 1984, 1986 and 1987 – are important. Cognac is basically distilled wine, so the character of the wine is concentrated. If a year is particularly hot, then the grapes will be too ripe and this will result with cognac that is flat and lazy. The bad news is that 1984 and 1987 are recognised as poor years for brandy, so it is believed that grapes grown in 1984 and 1987 tend to produce cognacs lacking in depth and complexity.* That leaves 1986, and this may explain why Hine decided to make this a blend – the vintages may work better that way.

They do.

The bouquet offers orange, lemon peel, saffron, acidic white grape and hints of licorice. It is essentially what you would expect of an “early landed cognac” – lots of fruit, citrus, grape and some waves of oak but nothing compared to cognacs of the same age matured in France. This cognac is fresh and crisp, but somewhat lazy with only occasional surges of sprightly citrus. On the palate the entry is unspectacular, but then at mid-palate some magic happens – denser orange extract, licorice, burnt peel, chocolate and fruit emerge, fading into a finish that retains orange slices dusted with cocoa but introduces Sambuca and earthy undertones of mushroom.

Overall, Hine Homage is a crisp, fresh and fruity cognac with – as expected from cognac aged in the UK – less oak influence than most cognac aged in France and of a similar age.  It is somewhat of a slothful cognac on the nose and the entry, but then at mid-palate it tries its darnedest to redeem itself – a slow starter that gets there in the end. Hine Homage is a great example of an “early landed cognac” that is sure to please people who enjoy soft, fruity cognacs with some bite at mid-palate. I sure did, whatever they might say about vintages!

Buy up big, “early landed cognacs” will be illegal from 2020!

Croizet 1984 Vintage

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Score: 97/100

Type: Brandy

Origin: Cognac, France

ABV: 40%

Price: N/A

Croizet may be one of the lesser known big cognac houses of France, but it appears to have cult status among those who appreciate the finer things in life. In 2011 a bottle of Croizet’s 1858 vintage, named Cuvee Leonie after the daughter of Croiziet’s founder Leon Croizet, sold for US$156,760 at an auction in Shanghai. Leon Croizet founded the cognac house in 1805, leaving his job as the Sommelier to Napoleon Bonaparte to start the distillery which now rests in the heart of the Grande Champagne region of Cognac in France.

Croizet have released vertical vintages from 1914 to 1988 and the cognac house claims that each vintage reflects ‘the very special conditions of a particular year when the champagne grapes were harvested’. Croizet therefore appears to be most concerned with ensuring the fruitiness of the eaux-de-vie is not lost to the wood, but accentuated by the wood, as it ages. That fruitiness over the wood is exactly what you get with the 1984 vintage. 1984 was a stormy year in the Cognac region of France, resulting in an abnormally hot spring and summer which allowed Croizet to harvest grapes early that year. Plump and full of sweetness, the grapes of 1984 give this vintage a particularly fruity character. 

The old age of this cognac is evident on the first sip, because its silken texture is beyond smooth and it shines with that highly sought-after characteristic of fine cognac that develops with decades of aging, rancio – the gouleyante or “lively” aspect of a cognac that, much like the uniqueness of this single vintage, expresses itself in a distinct way with notes of soy sauce, earthiness and tropical fruit amidst the glowing magic of eucalyptus and the eaux-de-vie.

The nose presents with strong notes of lychee, papaya, forest undergrowth, tree sap, honey, dried fruit, hints of spice and wax candles. On the palate the cognac is silky smooth, with the continuing theme of lychee but this time intermingling with the eaux-de-vie and more shades of tropical fruit. At mid-palate the spices and wood come to the fore, drying the palate and introducing with more detail the magic of rancio – walnut oil with hints of soy sauce and undertones of earthiness. Cherry ripe and rose Turkish delight emerge with the intensifying glow of menthol and eucalyptus, and an almost resinous sweet sap. The rancio and fruit linger into the finish, accompanied with almonds and edamame, and hints of creaminess signal that the grand show is nearing its end.