Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Germain Robin's Older Brandies
I'm a big fan of Germain-Robin, the craft brandy distillery in Ukiah, California. I've reviewed a number of their brandies in the past, including the Germain-Robin XO, Shareholders' Reserve and apple brandy, but I've never reviewed any of their line of older brandies.
The first three of these come from the single barrel varietal series, each made from one grape varietal.
Germain-Robin Colombard, 23 years old, 42.8% abv ($180)
The nose has sweet molasses with some rum notes followed by more typical grape brandy notes. The palate starts with sweet bubblegum, then fades into a nice earthy note with a touch of bitterness that flows into the finish.
Germain-Robin Muscat, 44% abv ($150)
This has an amazing nose of spice, not a rye spice or even an Armagnac spice, but more like the sweet spice you get in a good gewurztraminer; it's also a bit perfumy. The palate is very floral with rose petals against some spice and a peppery note as it fades. It starts a bit sweet but dries out on the palate. The finish is rose on the nose and pepper on the palate, which sound like something you'd get at Grant Achatz restaurant. Normally perfume and floral are not notes that I prefer, but in this one it really works, possibly because of the layer of spice or because it's not exceedingly sweet, really interesting and fun stuff. It manages to retain the crispness of the muscat grape without being overly sweet.
Germain-Robin Anno Domini, 40% ($350)
This is a pinot noir brandy with another fantastic nose. It's got some grassy notes, some bready/yeasty notes and a good amount of oak. The palate is gorgeous with dark chocolate, raisins and some spicy tobacco/pepper notes; sweetness kicks in at mid-palate and binds the whole thing together. The finish is sweet and peppery. This one is very well balanced, sweet but not too sweet, spicy and woody. It's really nicely done.
Overall, this was a great tasting. The Colombard, while good, wasn't thrilling to me. The Muscat and the Anno Domini, however, were both fantastic, very distinct and very well crafted.