Yesterday, I visited a Paris show called ‘Spirit’. Compared to the largest of the wine & spirits events, Vinexpo, this show was much smaller. But hey, I liked it.
There were all kind of different exhibitors with various types of spirits: From vodka to gin, rice wine to whisky, and naturally, cognac – not to mention many others.
My main reason for coming here was to meet with Alice from Cognac Forgeron, a cognac producer with 24 hectare of Grande Champagne vines. Then I discovered two other brands: Sylvelune, a new Sylvelune Cognac: New Brand Built Around One Woman”>brand we reported about some time ago, and one of the top 5 cognac houses, Camus. I must admit that I was a bit surprised to see Camus in Paris.
So, let’s start with Forgeron. They’re about to introduce a new cognac brand named ‘La Salamandre,’ a range that’ll consist of a VS, a VSOP and a XO. I tasted them all, and my feedback is that this is a very mixable Grande Champagne cognac. It is what it is- unpretentious, and a very solid cognac for beginners.
Of course, it’s not as complex as the rest of the Forgeron range, which targets the cognac connoisseur. However, this new VS and VSOP are very smooth and delicate. Naturally, the Salamandre XO is even more rounded, as well as being more coherent in the taste structure than the younger ones.
I also tasted Forgeron’s XO, which was distilled in 1984 – a very rare year for a good cognac when it comes to vintages. Now, Forgeron’s Hors d’Age is a dream. I must admit that I’ve actually tasted it on previous occasions, but in my opinion it’s simply a very good old cognac – albeit at a price. However, the Forgeron Hors d’Age represents good value for money from an authentic Grande Champagne family-producer.
Alice also told me about Forgeron’s new Réserve Speciale Collection, which will feature a “Parcelle Collection.” These cognacs are distilled from grapes that come from one specific area of Forgeron’s vineyard and are called Pain Perdu, Champs de Perdrix and Combe Raine. Great names, and are so-called after the titles of the different vineyards on Forgeron’s estate.
I must say that I’m very curious to see how these cognacs will sell, but one thing’s for sure, they taste unique. It’s fascinating how different grapes from different terroirs can taste and what effect this can have on aged cognacs.
Next I met with Marianne, who runs Sylvelune – a new brand that’s only existed since 2010. Marianne comes from a family of cellar masters and decided to make her own brand of cognac.
The positioning of Sylvelune is unique. The product is strictly from Grande Champagne and consists only of Hors d’Age cognac. The pricing is premium, and the communication/branding is heavily influenced by a female dream world. Product names such as ‘Lou’ or ‘Chaman’ underline this very fantasy-driven image of this cognac – and that’s what I told Marianne. I’m sure that the Japanese will love this brand.
By the way, the products are very limited. There are only 2240 bottles of each one in total. I tasted ‘Lou,’ which is very rich on the nose, but rounder than one would expect on the palate. Marianne explaind that this cognac is targeted at women, but then corrected my thinking by telling me that not the whole range is intended for just the femaole market. (What was I thinking..).
Then I tried one of the other Hors d’Age cognacs, which consists of eaux-de-vie that comes exclusively from the family’s Paradis cellar – wow. Deep pepper, spices and christmas cake – all extremely powerful. In fact, although it tastes great, for me last night this stuff didn’t come from paradise but straight from hell because I still had to drive a car afterwards…
It’ll be interesting to observe how Marianne will cope with her range, and I wish her all the best.
So, onto Camus. Now, as I’m planning to meet with Cyril Camus very soon, I didn’t want to taste all of their cognacs right now, as I want to keep that for the moment with Cyril.
Camus is (together with Remy Martin) one of the last bigger houses that’s entirely family controlled. And Camus has been doing really well recently, with some serious growth on an international scale. These guys are expanding.
Their latest product (that launches in 2013) is Family Legacy – a premium cognac that will be available in duty free locations.
Now, one thing I didn’t know is that Camus also distributes other spirits. (Like many other companies, in order to offer a full range of different spirits it’s far easier to negotiate when you have a whisky brand, a cognac brand, vodka, gin etc..). This is when I discoverd a gin called ‘Ungava,’ that first reminds me of liquid from the latest Star Wars movie – because it’s yellow. Very yellow.
A gin made in Canada, distributed by Camus. Bizarre, and hey, although it might not look healthy, boy is this one round and unique gin. It won’t be to everyone’s taste, and is rather targeted at professionals such as barkeepers and mixologists. Try it.
Camus also has a very sweet Sparkling Pineapple Cidre in their portfolio. This goes very well with heavy food such as Foie Gras, game meat like wild boar, and I can imagine it for dessert etc.
After all this I disovered a booth of the French police! They offered this service of a driving test on a computer – a video game for drunk people. That’s not something I needed in order to know that you never drink and drive.