Need $200+ gift cognac recommendations
I'm looking to spend about $200 for a cognac lover, could go up as high as $280, but not much more. The problem is I know very little about cognac. A search of the boards pulled up some names, i.e. Delamain, Dudognon Heritage and Paul Giraud Tres Rare, but absolutely no mention of prices.
What would you recommend?
Also, are there major taste preferences in cognac that I should be aware of when selecting one? i.e With cognacs, do I run the risk of buying the equivalent of a heavy red wine for a Spumante lover?
Each Cognac "house" has it's own style . . . Martell, for example, is sweeter; Couvoissier is more harsh; Remy Martin is more elegant; etc. But -- IMHO -- none of that matters UNLESS you know what particular style of Cognac the recipient enjoys.
I would look first to small, artisinal producers of Cognac such as Leopold Gourmel ( http://www.leopold-gourmel.com/ ) or Maison Surrenne ( http://www.surrenne.com/ ), to mention but two. If you are looking to houses, I'd opt for either Hine ( http://www.hinecognac.com/ ) or Delamain ( http://le-cognac.com/delamain/intro.html ) and stay away from those fancy crystal bottles offered by most all the major houses.
Of course, this ignores other great possibilities such as Armagnac, Calvados, Brandy de Jerez, or some of the stunning Alambic brandies produced in California, but you asked specifically about Cognac.
my first choice these days would be fillioux reserve familiale which should sell for around 180-190. second would be audry memorial, maybe costing a little less than the fillioux. audry also produces an older blend called exception which is about 300 and unbelievably good, but really hard to find. dudognon and giraud also make fantastic stuff.
the taste preferences in cognac are between the sweetened, flavored stuff, and pure, unadulterated brandy. the ones i mentioned are the latter type. if your friend likes the sweetened stuff, these might be too dry and austere for him. if that is the case get him hennessy paradis, which is also great in its own way.