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Tastings of new eaux-de-vie


Tuesday 15 January 2013

Olfactory tastings with professionals, a great experience for cognac lovers

 A ritual among professionals

After wine making is the time of distillation between November and March 31st of the following year. Tastings of a very special type take place at that time .

Several times a week, meetings between one or two tasters and distillers who volunteer are held in rooms of town hall of villages in the vineyards.

The ritual is always the same.

At said time and place, in the middle of morning, organizers align empty tasting glasses on a table in the middle of which a large bottle filled with distilled water is.

Then Distillers arrive and lay on the table small vials filled with samples of their just distilled eaux-de-vie.
Each vial is numbered and placed in front of an empty glass. After a moment, a hundred vials can be aligned.
In an almost religious silence, both professional tasters begin tasting.

 Olfactory tastings

They pour a little of each sample, a distillate which is around 72 ° of alcohol, in the corresponding numbered glass and they achieve a first olfactory tasting called full degree tasting.

Then, each eau-de-vie is reduced with distilled water poured from the large bottle.

At the end of the first tasting of the hundred of samples, a second olfactory tasting begins. With an eau-de-vie reduced in alcohol, aromatic characters become more intense.
For each sample, a comment is made out loud on the quality of the eau-de-vie, and sometimes on the distillation process, even the wine making or the vine growing corresponding to the sample ...

 Discussions (not so) tasty

"The 7 [sample numbered # 7] : beautiful flavors of flowers and dry vine shoots, without heaviness, with a discreet hint of ethyl. Pleasant, well done ... ’
"The 18 : fruits and banana. Who made it? ... You? You have a lot of lees for distillation, this is rather rare this year! ’

Sometimes the verdict is much less flattering:
"The 65 : lacks of finesse, too much grass flavors, who made this? Many rot in the vineyard before harvest? ’
"No ... ’
"So a problem during the harvest? ’
"Heu ... the wine-press broke down ... ’
"Next year, make a preventive control of your wine-press! How many trailers remained pending? ... ’

"The 72 is yours too? Your sample is ethereal. After how many liters do you cut the heads? ’
"5 liters ... ’
"It’s not enough. Ethyl acetate is too high. Cut to 6 or 7 liters and your eau-de-vie will really become better. ’

One by one, each sample is analyzed and tasted ...

Once the verdict is rendered, each glass passes from hand to hand among the participants who, in silence, smell the quality or measure the default of the eau-de-vie presented.

At the end of the tasting, a little more relieved or worried, distillers take back their samples and, before leaving, comment on the weather and its impact on the wines and distilling ...

 Let’s make an appointment

Great time that professional tastings. With two olfactory tastings, before and after reduction, a professional can trace the wine-maker’s approach during the past year, explain the imperfections of the eau-de-vie sampled.
Where cognac lovers can see a neutral eau-de-vie, with no intense flavors and too much alcohol, the professional sees the promise of a great cognac ...

To see them thus together, we measure the essential know-how to adapt to the whims of Mother Nature, to vines, to the weather, and their skills to drive a distillation that tends towards excellence.

We also understand the slow pace of the distillers and their patience to offer us great cognacs.

For us, let’s make an appointment in 30 or 40 years from now when these eaux-de-vie from Grande Champagne will become cognacs at their maturity …

All my thanks to G. Clot, P. Vinet and G. Martonnaud for welcoming me every year to their tastings.


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A great experience for cognac lovers, olfactory tastings with professionals


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