The L’ESSENTIEL Season 2 launch has finally arrived. Folks who have enjoyed a bottle of a Season 1 L’ESSENTIEL edition will notice some apparent changes made to the outward appearance of the bottle. In addition to the aesthetic adjustments, the possibilities for the Cognac inside the bottle have been expanded but made more precise. While the ethos of L’ESSENTIEL from its conception has not changed – ralentir, reflechir, reunir – some key evolutions have occurred and deserve a few paragraphs of explanation.
To better understand what L’ESSENTIEL Season 2 is, one must first understand what the series is transitioning from.
L’ESSENTIEL was developed during the peak of the Covid-19 crisis as communities around the world were confined to their homes and Cognac producers were cut off from their typical contact with visitors and other customers. It was a time of uncertainty, fear, impatience, frustration, and tragic loss. We saw it as an opportunity to slow down and reconnect with oneself and one’s family and enjoy a high quality, carefully crafted Cognac that directly supported small Cognac producers throughout the region.
Buying a bottle of Cognac gets one so much more than just liquid in a bottle. Sure, one gets an interesting and complex array of smells, flavors, and sensations, but one also gets the lasting memories of the moment the bottle was enjoyed and who it was enjoyed with.
The ethos was, and still is, to slow down, reflect, and reunite while also placing emphasis on the present and exercising patience.
Concerning the Cognac itself, the focus for Season 1 was on the following:
- Support small producers
- Limited editions
- Unique blends that differ from the producer’s standard range
- No additives, and no chill-filtration, if possible
- At or above 42% abv, if possible
- Single cru
- Transparency about Cognac details encouraged but not emphasized
- Age varied but not emphasized
- Simple 70cl cognaçaise bottle
- Craft/artisan look
- Inclusion of retro and nostalgic design elements
- Waxed corks
- A fixed price
- A fixed quantity
The above points are all perfectly agreeable and allowed for the release of a tremendous set of editions during Season 1. For reference, in Season 1 we had the pleasure of working with Domaine Pasquet, Prunier, François Voyer, Maxime Trijol, Vallein Tercinier, Château de Montifaud, Normandin Mercier, Michel Forgeron, Cognac Leyrat, Bache-Gabrielsen, and Giboin.
But as with many things in life, there is always room for healthy evolution while still strictly adhering the underlying ethos of L’ESSENTIEL.
So what is the focus of Season 2? The table below will show how L’ESSENTIEL Season 2 has evolved from Season 1. The items in bold indicate key changes.
Season 1 (2020-2021)
Season 2 (2022+)
Support small producers
Support small producers
Unique blends that differ from the producer’s standard range
Single barrels, demijohns, or duo barrels that differ from the producer’s standard range
No additives, no chill-filtration if possible
No additives, no chill-filtration if possible
42% ABV or above if possible
No ABV restriction
Cognac age varies, age not emphasized
Cognac age varies, age emphasized (A29, A45, A12, etc.)
Transparency about Cognac details encouraged but not emphasized
Transparency about Cognac details emphasized
No back label
Back label (high transparency)
Simple 70cl cognaçaise bottle
Simple 70cl cognaçaise bottle
Modern, clean, sharp look
Retro and nostalgic design elements
No retro and nostalgic design elements
Varying label design from one edition to another
Constant label design from one edition to another
Flexible quantity, depending on barrel or demijohn
In short, the above adjustments were carefully reflected upon, and we believe they improve upon L’ESSENTIEL Season 1 and ultimately will lead to more precise, more singular and more inherently interesting Cognacs – a little more geeky let’s say. Moreover, it goes without saying that we are placing a tremendous amount of focus on age (young, old, and in between) and high transparency regarding product details.
Now that the release of Season 2 Edition 1 in direct collaboration with Grosperrin Cognac is upon us, let’s take a tour of the bottle, from top to bottom and from front to back to properly introduce ourselves to the aforementioned evolutions of L’ESSENTIEL.
A Tour of the Bottle
Starting at the top, one will immediately notice that the waxed cork has been dropped and replaced with a simple black capsule. This streamlines the look and creates for a more straightforward opening process. Gone are the days of cracked wax and/or puzzled looks about how exactly to open a waxed bottle of Cognac.
The front label is decidedly modern, sharp, and clean. The creamy colors of the previous editions have been replaced with a sober, somewhat masculine black color. The retro and nostalgic elements are gone too. While we loved including those design elements on the front labels, not all producers possess these kinds of design items, so naturally labels from one edition to another would change. Now for Season 2, we wanted to have a consistent label which placed focus on age and Cognac details (see back label below).
As in Season 1, one’s eyes are greeted to two logos on the front label, that of the L’ESSENTIEL at the top and that of the producer partnered with for the edition at the bottom. For this first edition of Season 2, the logo seen is that of the ultra qualitative Cognac Grosperrin.
The five required legal mentions are included on this front label, namely the denomination de vente (Cognac), dénomination géographique complémentaire (Fins Bois), appellation (Appellation Cognac Fins Bois Contrôle), ABV (47.8%), and contenance (70cl). This information must be present on the same field of vision, so we’ve done that here with the front label. See this blog article for the deep dive into age statements and Cognac label legal mentions.
On the bottom left of the label, the bottle number is hand written with a white gel pen. On the bottom right side of the bottle just above the ABV, one will see the words Single Cask. It is possible that Single Cask can be replaced with Duo Barrel, Demijohn, or some other word, depending on the selection for the edition.
The big change on the front label, however, pertains to the glittery red A29 sticker. This splash of color will change from one edition to the next. So will the number on the sticker. What does A29 stand for? Unfortunately, the regulations do not permit an explicit indication of what this coding represents. The reader will have to decipher the significance of the A29 for himself or herself.
Additionally, since the focus for Season 2 is to showcase Cognacs of different ages, we made it a point to unofficially indicate age, and not distillation year. Distillation year is good but if the bottling date is not included on the label (or when the Cognac was put in a demijohn, then the age of the spirit cannot be properly determined. Hence, we are taking a more whisky-like approach, while still being in compliance with current rules.
The Back Label
The back label is a new addition for L’ESSENTIEL Season 2. As stated above, one of the key goals is to increase transparency with regards to the Cognac details. When we work on the selection for an ESSENTIEL edition, we will now make a point of asking the producer to share the following information:
- Grape Variety
- Lot N°
- Cask N°
- Cask volume
- Cask provenance
- Cellar conditions
- Natural color (yes/no)
- Dosage (g/L)
- Date of last reduction
- Bottled by
- Bottled for
And in the instance where we select an official vintage Cognac
- Year of distillation
- Bottling date
will be asked as well.
In the case where the answer is unknown, or otherwise cannot be provided, it will be labeled as “unknown”. The goal is to provide any and all details about the Cognac to let the taster know exactly what is in the glass.
Finally, on the bottom of the back label one will find a QR code and the url which will take the reader to the product page for that particular edition of L’ESSENTIEL. I do recommend giving the product page a careful read since the story of that particular Cognac will be laid out in considerable detail.
And for this first edition with Grosperrin, the parallel stories with this particular Fins Bois Cognac make for quite a special first edition.
L’ESSENTIEL Grosperrin Tasting Note
The above paragraphs were never meant to be a standard deep-dive bottle review. The goal was simply to explain, and show via the label, the changes from L’ESSENTIEL Season 1 to Season 2. That being said, readers will probably be curious as to what this first edition L’ESSENTIEL A29 from Grosperrin Cognac tastes like. Of course, I have nothing but the best to say about the Cognac – otherwise it never would have been selected. But still, a brief tasting note can give a slight indication as to what one can expect in glass.
Very Fins Bois, candied clementine and orange citrus jam, quince paste, soft earthiness, trace of old leather, chocolate, slightly resinous, clove spice, sultry, dense, extremely precise
Good density, flavor-rich, tight and precise, extremely mouth watering, earthy candied orange-meated fruits (sweet orange citrus and blood orange), rich miel de fleurs, spice, balanced power from the leather, and wood notes, complex
Clean and precise, persistent, flavor notes linger on palate and only reluctantly fade away, palate is left salivating inviting another smell and taste
Head over to the product page to read more about this characterful Cognac and check out the reviews for L’ESSENTIEL A29 from Grosperrin Cognac.
We very much look forward to introducing you to this first Season 2 edition, and those thereafter. In the meantime, cheers and let’s not forget to slow down, reflect, and reunite!