Cognac Info Sources?
Imbibe magazine had an interesting article by Liza Weisstuch on Cognac in the current issue. This particular article isn't on their webpage.
For an American brandy that's pretty good I've been drinking Germain-Robin Fine Alambic Brandy, equivalent to a VSOP, mid $30's in Boston. I've been meaning to try their XO, which I think runs from about $100-$150 is rumoured to be spectacular. If anyone has tried, please let me know your thoughts.
Germain-Robin produces ten barrels per year of XO. It retails for $120, at least here in California. While it is excellent, there are "real" Cognacs that I prefer -- this is not a comment on the QUALITY of the Germain-Robin, which is excellent; rather, it is merely a stylistic preference I generally prefer my Cognac a bit lighter and with more finesse, whereas the Germain-Robin (and, let's be honest, some Cognacs) is a bit fuller and richer than my preference. But I'm also splitting hairs here, as I do enjoy Germain-Robin's XO -- and their "regular" Fine (and own bottles of both).
You are more than welcome to read independent cognac tasting notes and news about the cognac industry at the Scandinavian cognac source www.cognacsociety.com. If you don’t know Swedish and can stand robot translations, you may use http://translate.google.com/translate...
>>> Any recommendations for similar price point cognac or armagnac? <<<
b) You do know, I'm sure, that Cognac is VERY different than Armagnac.
Charles Neal Selections (a California-based importer) has some good information on Armagnac at http://www.charlesnealselections.com/armagnac/armagnac.html
Martell is my favorite of the "Big Four" major houses, but here are some specific COGNAC producer recommendations -- all of which I prefer to Martell:
Maison Surrenne -- http://www.surrenne.com/
Léopold Gourmel -- http://www.leopold-gourmel.com/
Hine Cognac (the best, IMHO, of the "majors")-- http://www.hinecognac.com/
Delamain -- http://le-cognac.com/delamain/intro.html
Logis de la Mothe -- http://logisdelamothe.com/
Pierre Ferrand -- http://www.pierreferrandcognac.com/en/
Château Montifaud -- http://chateau-montifaud.com/
Here are some specific ARMAGNAC producer recommendations:
Francis Darroze ("The Pope of Armagnac") -- http://www.darroze-armagnacs.com/indexmain.htm
Château de Laubade -- http://www.chateaudelaubade.com/page.php?page=laubade_presentation&lang=gbr
Dartigalongue -- http://www.dartigalongue.com/
Château de Ravignan -- http://www.charlesnealselections.com/armagnac/ravignan.html
Domaine Boingnères -- http://www.charlesnealselections.com/armagnac/boingneres.html
Château de Briat -- http://www.charlesnealselections.com/armagnac/briat.html
Château du Tariquet -- http://www.tariquet.com/default_uk.asp
Veuve J. Goudoulin -- http://www.armagnac-gers.com/
Sempé (big house; surprisingly good) -- http://www.sempe-armagnac.com/index-g...
Laberdolive and Marcel Trépout are two Armagnac producers that are/can be excellent, but have no website (to the best of my knowledge).
Hope this helps . . .