Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Brandies We Need More Of

As regular readers know, this is the Golden Age of Brandy. There are amazing brandies out there that are reasonably priced, but they are still mostly limited to a few markets. Here are three French brandies I'd like to see more of in more places in the US.

1.  Armagnac. I've been raving about Armagnac for the past couple of years, but the amazing bottles from small growers are mostly going to just a few US locations like K&L, D&M and Astor Wines. In most of the rest of the country, even in many great liquor stores, there's not much in the way of great Armagnac except for the Darroze bottlings (which are very good). This is likely due to the nature of the industry. Most of the best stuff comes from small grower/producers who don't always have huge stocks. Then again, there are a lot of small grower/producers so hopefully we will have a chance to get more and more.

2. Calvados. This stunning apple/pear brandy from Normandy may be the most underrated spirit around right now. One of the best spirits I had last year was a Calvados. While Camut is excellent Calvados which is fairly available, there are around 200 Calvados producers, very few of which make it to the US. I'm planning on drinking a lot of Calvados this year, but I'd love to see more of the good stuff.

3. Marc. Marc is French pomace brandy, made from the leftovers from wine making (skins, pulp, seeds, etc.). It is similar to Italian grappa except that where grappa is usually unaged, some marks are aged in oak (and others in glass or stone). It is made in various regions which are included in the name of the spirit (e.g. Marc de Bourgogne from Burgandy or Marc de Champagne, etc.). Marc is funky, funky stuff with all kinds of crazy earthy, musty notes. I've only had a few but would love to try more.

Hopefully more retailers will figure out that brandy is a happening spirit and start giving us some variety.


Ivan said...

Please don't tell anybody about Calvados. It's a great secret. The amazing thing about Calva is that there is also farmhouse calva (ferme). A license or appellation (if you wil l) for small farmer producers. I got a bottle at the Honfleur market (cant remember the name of the farmer), what a revelation. Rougher, more green appleish and a great body. I love Huard and Groult, but this rustic bottle just sends me.

Josh Feldman said...

Said Ivan - talking about Calvados...

Funky Tape said...

I've found one bottle of Darroze in this market in the past few years. A great find, but the only. A few stores carry Tariquet, which is solid for the $, esp the CS 8, 12 and 15 yrs.

Total Wine does have a lot of Laubade but it's not attractively priced and I don't think anyone buys it cause it seems to be 'on sale' quite a bit and TW isn't really a store you go to shop sale items.

Of course, Copper & Kings is everywhere and again, it looks like sales are poor. I've seen their standard brandy marked down near cost as stores try to close it out. Shame because for $30 it's a good entry into the spirit.

So that basically leaves the East and West coast with K&L leading for price and selection. Unless someone else knows another retailer that can compete and also ships? If only we could just buy directly from Charles Neal.

Tom said...

A while back, I decided I'd start easing into Calvados and picked up a bottle of Domaine Dupont. Little did I realize I'd just bought the entire range of Calvados available in my county.

I have hope for American apple brandy, being made by a small but growing number of distilleries. I visited a brand new distillery just this past weekend, the Baltimore Whiskey Company, which will release an apple brandy this fall. (The rye won't come out till 2018.) No idea what their brandy will taste like, but the fermentation tanks smelled great.