These French spirits seem on the up and up, on my blog. I know last year saw more French stuff reviewed than ever before. And although I already quite liked Armagnac, I never expected the depth and breadth of Cognac to be such as it is.
At least, I love those Cognacs from whisky bottlers. I still don’t have much faith in those ‘old fashioned’ Cognacs, but I might be proven wrong. I’ll try to do a bit of a deep dive later this year.
Back to the post at hand.
A little while ago I got contacted by Aurélien Touzé of Authentic Spirits, to see if I was interested in reviewing a couple of spirits that are on the market under that brand’s name. At the moment, according to the website, there are two different spirits available, both of which are reviewed below.
Authentic Spirits is a very new bottler, launched in December of last year (although the label says MMXX). So far these two bottlings are the ones that are available, but I expect there will be more to come shortly.
The first spirit reviewed is a Fine de Bourgogne, the second is an Armagnac. That first category I had to look up. I had heard of Marc de Bourgogne (made of pressed grape remains after the wine making is done). French Grappa, so to say. Of course, it doesn’t only come from Bourgogne, so there’s ‘Fine de…’ of various regions.
Fine de <enter region here> is when the wine and lees are distilled and matured. So not the grape stems, seeds, pulp, skins like with Marc, but the actual wine. Interestingly, the ‘fine’ category is defined more by the process than by the ingredients. Fine de Bretagne, for example, is when apple cider is distilled, so I guess this could technically apply to more fruits.
Anyway, the ones I was about the review!
Fine de Bourgogne de Gevrey-Chambertin 9, 2007-2016, 40%, Domaine Pierre Naigeon
Surprisingly woody with lots of grape driven flavors. White grapes, some vanilla and a bit of a woody acidity. Some coffee beans and spices too.
The palate is very light with oak and wood spices. A hint of grapeseed bitterness and white pepper. There’s star fruit, and that acidity I had on the nose.
The finish is slightly richer, and a bit more fruity. More grapes, hints of pear and dragonfruit. Some oak but still very gentle.
With this being my first ever ‘fine de Bourgogne’, I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. I’m surprised by how much oak this already has at nine years old, but it does feel a little bit light due to the 40%.
Compared to other spirits, I’d say this would score some 84/100.
Available from Authentic Spirits for € 69 (for a 50cl bottle)
Armagnac Domaine de Baraillon 32, 1989-2021, Folle Blanche, 44.9%
This one starts with a lot of oak on the nose, rather tannic even. Astringent with grape skins, grape seeds, hazelnuts and white almonds.
The palate again is rather woody, dry too. A bit of a peppery bite, with a hint of almond bitterness and grapeseed. Grapes, baked grapes, raisins and some mango too.
The most typical ‘Armagnac’ part is on the finish, with richer grape brandy notes and more integrated oakiness. Quite earthy, compared to the palate.
I’m quite surprised by this one. Generally with Armagnac over the age of, say, 25, it’s all wood that you get. This was my biggest peeve in the Armagnac bottle-share I did some years ago, but that doesn’t happen here. Sure, there’s notes of oak, but the brandy itself is quite pronounced as well. There’s lots of fruit and other notes.
I guess, with me having all the wrong expectations, I should think of this in a different light than I initially did. It’s not an overly smooth Armagnac, but that does give you something to return to, which is a very good thing. I like the slight bitter notes too, although I did find it quite astringent on the nose.
Available from Authentic Spirits for € 149