Thursday, March 12, 2009

Brandy Friday: Maison Surrene

Maison Surrenne is a collaboration between California brandy makers Germain-Robin and Cognac's largest family-owned producer, Surrenne, owners of four Cognac distilleries. Using its extensive stocks of aged brandy, Maison Surrenne is part of a new wave in brandy production which mirrors some of the recent innovations in whiskey. According to their materials, "there's no excessive adulteration by caramel or sugar syrup or boisé (oak-chip) flavoring." While in whiskey, this emphasis on purity of ingredients is becoming more and more common, it is virtually unheard of in the world of Cognac.

I was happy to receive samples of three of Maison Surrenne's "single district bottlings" from three different Cognac crus.

Distillerie Galtaud
Unblended Borderies

This is a single vintage bottling selected from casks between 14 and 15 years old from Galtaud, a single still distillery operating since 1800 in the village of Mainxe. Cognacs from the small cru of Borderies are known for their intense fruitiness.

This brandy is very fragrant on the nose with floral and perfume notes as well as fruit. Those notes come through on the taste as well with some oak, toffee and polished wood and lots of dried fruit on the finish.

Ancienne Distillerie
100% Petite Champagne

This is a Cognac from the Petite Champagne region. There is no age statement, but the distillery notes that its Petite Champagne Cognacs do not demand the aging time needed for other Cognacs as they mature quickly.

This Cognac has a very understated nose in which the wine really comes through. The immediate taste is very sweet fruit, followed by a very understated oak; then back to sweet wine on the finish.

XO Single Vintage
Grande Champagne

This is a 29 year old Cognac from the Grande Champagne region.

This is a beautiful Cognac, definitely the most complex of the three, with a lovely balance of fruit and oak and some sweet notes that are closer to Bourbon than wine. Lovely stuff.

I enjoyed all three of the Maison Surrene Cognacs and certainly would be interested to try more of their brandies.

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