Tasted – Summer 2008
ANDREAS LARSSON, BEST SOMMELIER OF THE WORLD 2007 ON: * COGNAC *
* JEAN GROSPERRIN *
Lot n° 24 Grande Champagne
Dark color, very sweet and mature nose, dried fruits, prunes, sweet chocolate pralines and some hints of dried flowers, very complex, the palate has good bite, very distinct, and aged sweetness, leather and nutty aromas, really long and rich aftertaste, complex.
Lot n° 38 Grande Champagne
Good depth dried fruits, chocolate and cherry confit, the palate has a good nuttiness, very mature and spicy, elegant with good length, almost salty on the finish.
1991 Bois Ordinaires d’Oléron
The nose has quiet sweet fruit, quince, vanilla and some woody notes, interesting palate, more rustic but with a good structure, good attack.
1968 Fins Bois
Nice nose of dried fruits, chocolate, hazelnuts, the palate is mature, drier with some notes of vanilla, long finish, the nose is more interesting than the palate at present.
1971 Grande Champagne
Elegant nose, with nutty aromas, dark chocolate, some prunes an Cigar box, really good palate, very fine structure and a good freshness, mature flavours and a really long and complex aftertaste.
1962 Petite Champagne
The nose is on the spicy side, vanilla, dried orange peel and marzipan, the palate is rich and warm with a good spiciness, long and distinct aftertaste.
1989 Petite Champagne
Roasted oak, vanilla and nougat dominate the nose, there’s also some fresh aromas of citrus confit, I like the freshness and structure on the palate, long and fruity, still on the young side but with a good persistence.
1975 Fins Bois
Developed and mature nose, walnuts, leather, nougat and some amontillado like notes, the palate is very strong with 59% alcohol, yet with a good balance, very spicy with some vanilla and cedar wood, long and rich aftertaste. C O G
The commerce of Cognac is structured differently from the wine trade or even Armagnac. The region of Cognac is dominated by several big trading houses, most of which buy from producers either as bulk wine or butches of Cognac. In either case, the Cognacs are stocked in barrels, blended in order to obtain a particular taste and then sold. Even if these big players produce some Cognacs of excellent quality, the smaller merchants, such as Maison Gabare, are the only ones still able to offer those with a distinct taste reflecting a specific terroir. All the butches bought by Jean Grosperrin from Cognac La Gabare are a small series from boutique producers, “collectioneur Cognacs” and have a very definitive taste not found elsewhere. Interestingly, the name “La Gabare” originates from the ships that transported Cognac on the river until the beginning of the last century. Jean Grosperrin explains: “Nearly all the families who produce and distil their own Cognacs have very old barrels in their cellars. These family treasures are rarely sold, except in case of very unusual events such as successions, or other unforeseen occurrences. These precious brandies, with a strong personality and great character, are always sold in limited quantities and in confidentiality. These are the treasures that Jean Grosperrin buys from the different appellations of Cognac that he’s enamoured with.
“The very old ones are true testimonies to a knowledge that doesn’t exist today,” Mr. Grosperrin states. “When they were produced viticulture still meant “viticulture” – with the help of horses, the art of fire handling, distillers staying day and night alongside the alembics monitoring fire intensity, and surveying the cooling of the steam. It’s a big reason why the Cognacs in my collection are so unique.” Today, some of these old Cognacs have lost up to 80% of their initial quantity, because of the natural evaporation. This is called “part des Anges” (part of the angels) in Cognac.
Mr. Grosperrin insists in keeping the different butches he acquires, just the way he purchased them. “There is no blending at all,” he says. “They continue to age in barrels or “Demijohns”, either in my cellars or in state-run bonded warehouses.” The uniqueness of Jean Grosperrin’s La Gabare Collection is that each bottling is under the control of a bailiff that oversees the certifying and sealing of the bottles. This collection is comprised of 81,500 bottles from World War Two to the 1980’s. These Cognacs are not found elsewhere and are highly sought after by collectors and aficionados. Each bottle has its own individual story, and will transport one back in time. A series number indicates where it was bottled and for how long plus recommendations on how to drink your particular prized Cognac.