On our of our visits in Charente, we visited Jacques Petit, who runs the cognac house André Petit in Berneuil. For anyone traveling in the region, it’s really worth a visit. One expects a chateau or a beautiful estate, but this legendary cognac house is based in a small house on the side of the road when entering the village. There’s an old sign, just about readable from the years of sun that have hit it: André Petit & Fils.
A very charming Jacques Petit welcomed us. We were lucky, as he took a short break from working the vineyards, distilling, blending, repairing machinery or running some other errand related to
the time-consuming cognac production. We were invited to sit down in the small entrance hall of his house and taste some wonderful cognacs.
The most surprising thing was that Jacques suddenly got out a bottle of André Petit Napoleon, aged for around 20-25 years, from the freezer! A Napoleon cognac is aged for the same time as an XO, usually for around 20 years. It’s categorized between a VSOP and a XO. So it’s a high quality cognac.
Our understanding to this day was that the aromas of a cognac can only unfold when it is consumed at room temperature. But knowing Jacques’ expertise in the field and much recognized standing in the industry, of course we had to try it. To our big surprise it was delicious! He explained that there are so many different aromas in a cognac that one can never taste them all at once. And that when the cognac has different temperatures, different tastes unfold. Below freezing point, the cognac takes on a thick structure and tastes very smooth.
Jacques likes to serve his chilled Napoleon with desert – especially with chocolate desert (unfortunately he had none to offer us…) But we could totally imagine the subtle woody aroma that the cognac has chilled, would indeed marrying very well with a hearty chocolate fondant or the likes. Very thankful for this innovation, we’ll definitely try this out at home on a special occasion to woo our guests.