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The Best Cognac

Remy Martin is my new favorite cognac ive done the Hennessy and Courvasior thing whats you guys favorite any smaller companies that produce a tasty cognac out there?

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  1. Delamain

    1. Try Prunier Cognac Axel Gay. Its one of the better cognacs in its price range.

      1. My fav, at any price is Hine Triomphe, a bit over $200 a bottle. Hine makes other blends at lower, and higher prices. Hine Rare and Delicate is less than $50 and is wonderful. Hine has a more floral nose than the more common brands you mentioned. Another great cognac and a very good price is Pierre Ferrand. I like the Reserve which is very reasonably priced. There are many to try and that is the best way to find your fav.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rednyellow

          BIG +1 for the Pierre Ferrand.
          Currently working the Reserve and the Selection des Anges.

        2. Prunier and Delamain are definitely both great cognacs. Chateau de Beaulon, Ragnaud Sabourin and Raymond Ragnaud are all really good boutique producers as well.

          3 Replies
          1. re: drinkslover

            There are a multitude of fabulous small producers of Cognac. Dudognon Heritage, Paul Giraud Tres Rare are revelations. they are made from 40-50 YO single barrel products no caramel color, no charcoal no nothing. They are to Corvoisier or Remy martin what Macallan 25 is to Cutty Sark. the only problem is that they will set you back at least a couple of bills, now maybe 3. But if you try them, you won't go back.

            1. re: chazzerking

              I agree, go a level above the xo. Pierre Ferrand Abel, Pierre Ferrand vintages, daniel bouju brut de fut 25yo, are great.

              1. re: chazzerking

                Just in case you still drink these two premire Cognacs you posted in the past..
                (Dudognon Heritage - Paul Giraud Tres - Paul Giraud Heritage)
                Was wondering what of them has the most long term 'drinkability' with some fruit, balance, light wood barrel and smoothness.

                thanks for any impressions you can shed light on them.
                joel
                NYC

            2. I like Kelt.

              1 Reply
              1. re: bubbles4me

                I agree with Kelt. The VSOP is up there with many XO's. And the XO is even better.

              2. Don't know that I've ever come upon a "best" cognac, or maybe I have and it's whatever is at hand. For sipping with friends, I do like Courvoissier VSOP. But I also like 75+ year old Napoleons. And for variety, I like an occasional armagnac or salignac. All in a nice balloon in front of the fire. Cognac never occurs to me in the summertime.

                1. There is no ONE best Cognac. (I know, it sounds obvious, but . . .) The BEST Cognac is the one you like the most! Therefore, there is virtually an infinite number of "bests" out there.

                  That said, I certainly agree with the suggestion of Hine (Triomphe, and their even better Family Reserve -- http://www.hinecognac.com/ ), as well as Delamain (everything, from Pale & Dry through their Tres Venerable -- http://le-cognac.com/delamain/intro.html ), as far as houses go. Both are excellent.

                  Then you have small artisinal producers -- difficult to find, perhaps, but well worth the search. The two that first come to mind are Léopold Gourmel and Maison Surrenne ( http://www.surrenne.com/ ).

                  1. I hate it all! But my wife claims that is really my own little problem.
                    I can not seem to get over the "wiff" of alcohol that burns my nose hairs. So I did some research and am now perplexed that the best cognac seems to come from a place labelled "Grand Champagne". Can't those french guys get anything right?
                    Checking the booze locker reveals we currently have no cognac and are limping along on some stuff called Armagnac de Montal.
                    It still burns my nose hairs.
                    Long live bourbon!

                    9 Replies
                    1. re: dancingTimmy

                      Tim,

                      You are holding the glass to close to your nose.

                      Start with the glass -- be it Cognac or Bourbon (if you drink it neat, no ice) -- down around your belt, and swirl the glass while slowly raising it. Certainly by the time you get to your shoulders, usually by the time your at "mid-chest," and -- depending upon a) the glass, and b) the specific distillate -- you'll get a GREAT bouquet with No burn.

                      1. re: zin1953

                        It also helps greatly to warm the cognac by enveloping the bottom part of the snifter (where the cognac is) with your hand. It's even okay to use both hands, then swirl it to warm it up. Really good cognac is a joy, and shouldn't burn anyone's nose. Well, maybe if they're using it as nose drops... '-).

                        1. re: Caroline1

                          Warm the Coignac? Yikes! This increases the alcohol evaporation and increases the nose burn

                          1. re: mpalmer6c

                            No. It does not. And it is the tried and true traditional way to drink cognac. That's why cognac balloons (snifters) are so large; to give room to your nice warm palms.

                            Somebody mentioned cognac on the rocks a while back in this thread. Curled my toes so I just went away. But yes, warmed (not hot, just warmed by your hands) *IS* good! Try it.

                            And for those with chronically cold hands, there are always these:
                            http://tinyurl.com/2d32z7

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              Caroline1, you are so right about warming the cognac. I usually prep the snifters with hot water a few minutes, dump the water, add the cognac, and cover the snifter with a coaster for a couple minutes. That first whiff will almost knock over the uninitiated, but I think the "ethers" are part of what is so special about cognac. Another advantage with the large snifters: they float nicely in the hot tub when the air jets are off. The stem keeps it nicely upright like a sailboat keel, and the 102 degree water keeps it at a perfect drinking temperature.

                              1. re: Veggo

                                I'm sorry folks, but it has been proved that warming cognac is the worst thing you can do. Also the traditional brandy snifter is the worst glass to drink spirits out of. The small mouth concentrates the alcohol right into your nose/palate, overwhelming you with alcohol, and over powering the aromas and flavors.

                                1. re: JMF

                                  Uh, yes and no . . . please re-read my post above, or better yet:

                                  >>> Start with the glass -- be it Cognac or Bourbon (if you drink it neat, no ice) -- down around your belt, and swirl the glass while slowly raising it. Certainly by the time you get to your shoulders, usually by the time your at "mid-chest," and -- depending upon a) the glass, and b) the specific distillate -- you'll get a GREAT bouquet with No burn. <<<

                                  Now, whether this is done with a traditional snifter, or with the even more traditional stemmed "chimney" glass, *either* one will give you the (also traditional but unpleasant) alcohol burn if held too close to your nose. But if you start belt high and raise the glass up, there is a point at which the spirit "blooms" and the bouquet is voluptuous.

                                  As for warming specifically, I do not warm the glass deliberately, yet I do have some "small-ish" snifters that I enjoy drinking out of -- more so than the stemmed "chimney" glasses I was given by a Cognac producer. Then again, I set the glass down in between sips, rather than cradling it . . . but there is something to be said for a few drops in the palm, rubbing your (clean) hands together and smelling the resulting aroma. ;^)

                                2. re: Veggo

                                  NOOoooooooooooooo . . . .

                                  OK. On the one hand, not even the LAPD's S.W.A.T. team will kick in your front door for heating your snifter with hot water first . . . on the other hand, I cannot guarantee that the DGSE (Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure) won't take out a hit on you for doing it! Certainly every cognac and armagnac distiller will . . .

                                  1. re: zin1953

                                    I wonder if warming the Cognac depends on the quality of the Cognac itself, sort of like Sake. I have had some inexpensive VS and VSOP Cognacs that seem rather flat and bland but improved with warming, whereas the better ones have been fine at room temp.

                      2. The Remy Martin Louis XIII is about $150 per snifter, $1900 the bottle. I'm afraid to get near it again lest I break it, or worse, learn to like it again.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Veggo

                          Keep in mind that you're ALSO paying for the Baccarat decanter that serves as the Cognac's bottle.

                          1. re: zin1953

                            True, and that brings a smile. I can think of several establishments that give the decanter to whomever buys the snifter-full that empties it. Keeps a few regulars paying closer attention when there's more and more air in the bottle!

                          2. re: Veggo

                            The Remy Martin Louis XIII is nice stuff. I had a half bottle I was given at the media release party here in NYC when it was first introduced. At this event the master blender, Pierrette Trichet, gave a great lecture and tasting of a half dozen of their best and rarest brandies, but I was the only one who sipped and enjoyed and finished all of them. Everyone else, about thirty people, just took a little taste of each. I think she was actually a little offended. I stayed after and we chatted, and she gave me all the partial bottles left from the tasting.

                          3. But it's pretty good.

                            1. Has anyone tried Cognac Park? It was reviewed positively in the NY Times wine blog in the last 18 months or so.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: quazi

                                i just tried the full line today with the distributor. i thought they were all very well blended and well priced for the quality. the vsop and xo are a little sweet for my personal preference, but still much drier and more elegant than anything from the big houses in a comparable price range. the family reserve and vielle grande champagne are outstanding examples of very mature cognac, very light and dry and subtly complex with a hint of rancio.

                                i don't think older is better with cognac though. if something is distilled correctly and put into good wood, it doesn't need a lot of aging. i've been drinking pasquet coeur de grande champagne lately. it's a blend of 5-10 year old brandies and just explodes with fruit on the nose and palate.

                              2. Hine may be small compared to, say, the four majors (Courvoisier, Hennessey, Rémy Martin, and Martell), but it's not that small . . . nor is it all that cheap. The last price I saw on Triomphe was over $300 . . . I used to pay <$50 for it. But I do truly love Hine, and recommended it above.

                                In the US, Camus usually shows up in Duty Free stores or in Chinatowns.

                                Cheers,
                                Jason

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: zin1953

                                  Wow -- <$50 for a 40-year-old cognac? That seems like quite a bargain. How long ago was that, and where? And are you aware of any similar bargains that can be had today?

                                  BTW, I just finished a bottle of Camus VSOP, which I purchased at a local liquor store. It was a nice enough mixer -- rather lighter/brighter than my usual mixer, Martell VSOP. Probably a better choice for summer than winter.

                                  1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                    Well, keep in mind that I started working in the wine trade back in 1969 . . . back then EVERYTHING was cheaper: Rémy Martin Louis XIII in the Baccarat decanter was only $199.

                                    Cheers,
                                    Jason

                                    1. re: zin1953

                                      But then, the average price of a home was $29,500, and the word "condo" had just been invented. Jason, we enjoyed the good old days.

                                      Skol!

                                2. Is anyone familair with Frapin Chateau De Fontpinot XO? They are closing it out in PA for $58, I have never tried an XO and was wondering if this is worth trying to have a friend track down.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ncyankee101

                                    So I went ahead and bought a bottle of this, haven't opened it yet but am planning to this weekend for New Years. It was rated very well here, in fact at the top of the list in 2010:

                                    http://www.ultimate-beverage.com/wine...

                                  2. Hine Triomphe is fantastic. Since we're talking about $200-$300, I would also throw in the Tesseron Lot 53 around $200 and Lot 29 for $300+. What's especially nice is that you can purchase a package of miniatures of their different lots so that you can do some side by side blind tasting on the cheap.

                                    1. I'd have to say Delamain is my favorite. Cheaper and pretty good is Landy - it's made by the Ferrand people - the difference from Ferrand is that Landy is blended with grapes from borderies.

                                      1. I try to look for stuff that doesn't have added coloring or sweetening. Harder than you'd think. The Party Source has some ones which look great (though haven't ordered from them yet), as well as a page with some information about cognacs free of additives. I've also gotten one or two smaller labels here in LA at K&L Wines which are pretty good -- most recently, we got the Cognac Park (excellent for $35/bottle, and no coloring / sweeteners added -- it's not overly sweet, but very smooth). We also got some of the Francois Peyrot XO, though haven't tried it yet.