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Tuesday 4 October 2016

Cognac Frapin and Tapas

Cognac Frapin dinner at Social Wine and Tapas

Like port, sherry or Madeira, Cognac is a production-method drink that warrants a larger audience.

Oak-aged like whisky, it has a grape-based complexity, starting life as a sharp wine made (generally) from Ugni Blanc before two distillations and at least two years' aging in oak.
It is best suited to starters and desserts, so works brilliantly with tapas - and surprisingly well as a cocktail ingredient.
Cognac is, let it not be forgotten, a place in France - just north of Bordeaux. The best, the Grandes Champagnes, come from grapes grown in chalk around Segonzac and are aged extensively in humid cellars, resulting in a dark, intense, wood-spiced spirit mellowed with age.

Lesser soils or dryer cellars result in a less-substantial spirit.

Quality standards set a minimum age for the youngest spirit in the blend and are, in increasing order, VS, VSOP and XO.
In the case of Frapin, a family-owned company dating back 20 generations to the 1200s, attention to detail means prices at the bottom are high while lack of international recognition means the best (relative) bargains are to be had at the top end.

A note on tasting: serve at room temperature in a straight-sided glass and swirl only very gently. Nosing just above the glass, to the side and the centre will highlight the varying aromas in the spirit. 
Pear cocktail ginger-beery with zippy, aromatic lime. Lovely.

VSOP aromatic roasted spices and woody aromas; viscose with harmonious freshness and florality. Very Good.

Frozen VSOP the oiliness and vanilla notes dominate when chillled. Good for a summer's day.

VSOP matches with salty and creamy foods, and worked well with ham and cheese croquetas, jamon iberico, oil and bread and hard yellow cheese.

Further ageing into an XO gives it earthier, woodier aromas that match with mushrooms and game. 
VIP XO from a humid cellar, it is big, wood-spicy and aromatic. Very Good.

XO Fontpinot aged in a drier cellar, essentially the same wine at birth, it matures into a more delicate, slender and mineral finished product. Like the daughter who went to a Swiss finishing school instead of somewhere in the north of England. Very Good.

Millesime 1991 vintage Cognac is a rare beast; this 20yo has a willowy, slender elegance, like it hung out with royalty at Uni then came back home and wowed us all. Sophisticated and complex, yet assured, graceful and elegant. Very Good.

Frapin One Cocktail an harmonious blend of Frapin with orange peel, chocolate bitters and elderflower.
The bitter-sweet cocktail is overpowered by our creme brulee, but the 1991 works brilliantly with it. 
Multimillesime a blend of three vintages, 1986, 1998 and 1991, it has been voted the best Cognac in the world. Complex, adept and harmonious. Very Good Indeed.

Other related articles
Cognac Frapin
Gosset Champagne Dinner at Hotel Du Vin Cambridge

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