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Saturday, 1 October 2011

Les Compagnons Du Cognac at Boutique Wineries Tasting

It is a brave statement to say of one's entry-level Cognac that it will be by far the best VSOP you will have ever tasted.

Brave because, firstly, that's quite a claim to make but also because if it proves to be true, why would your customers then want to trade up to anything more lofty.

Nevertheless, that was the claim of the one-line blurb for the Prisset Grande Champagne VSOP, part of Les Compagnons du Cognac, at the Boutique Wineries Tasting recently and so I felt I just had to put it to the test.

The Cognacs were being presented by a fellow Circle of Wine Writers member Caspar Auchterlonie who explained that they are all made in very small quantities indeed and therefore somewhat hard to get hold of.

On the nose there is vanilla, cooked mixed fruit and toffee.

The palate feels powerful but elegant with sweet, Christmas-pudding spices and an extremely long finish that just seems to keep going.

Balanced, sophisticated, complex and enjoyable, it is very impressive.

So, is the "best ever" claim accurate ? Well, I cannot remember tasting a better VSOP, so I think it just might be.

In any case, I marked it with three ticks - absolute top marks, in my personal scoring system.

It is priced at just under £40 which is firstly very good value for something as lovely as this, but also only a few pounds more than the general starting point of mid-£20s for aged spirits .

I asked Caspar which of the 15-odd spirits he was showing would provide a good comparison to the Prisset and he directed me towards an Henri Geffard VSOP.

Amber in the glass, it is a much spicier Cognac with less fruit; there is coffee and sandalwood on the nose with spicy, woody pepperiness on the palate.

Good as it is, and it is very nice indeed, with more bitter, tertiary aromas of wood and spice, it does not have quite the same immediate, cooked-fruit sweetness appeal as the Prisset or quite the same full, rounded feel on the palate.

Later, researching Compagnons du Cognac via the company's website, I learn that it is - or at least claims to be - a unique new social enterprise created to support and protect the communities who produce the best VSOP and XO cognac in the world, and has been set up as a new sales and marketing channel for the produce of small and independent producers, who may not have the resources and skills to develop new distribution markets.

The company's mission involves giving people wider access to their wonderful cognac, and to to encourage people to try rare Grande Champagne Cognac and learn all about it - a very worthy purpose indeed.

Recommended wine

No surprises here, it's the Prisset VSOP, £38.95.

Links

Les Compagnons du Cognac - www.gccognac.com
UK distributor, Tilley's Wines - http://www.tilleys-wines.com/
Caspar Auchentochie - http://www.linkedin.com/pub/caspar-auchterlonie/7/b48/20a
Boutique Wineries - http://www.boutique-wineries.co.uk/

Bottle shot image credit - http://johnradfordcom.blogspot.com/2011/02/grande-champagne-day-out.html

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