Holiday Shopping Guide: Collectible Cognacs
Forget about wine (just for a second): this season's gift to have and to hold onto is cognac. With its stately maturity and supple, refined flavors, a well-chosen bottle of cognac doesn't just reward your giftee for 2010, its an investment in their imbibing future. If your bottle remains unopened next year it's not because they didn't approve, it's because they deem it an heirloom.
Pierre Ferrand Collection Privée 1914
World War I was in its first year when this Grande Champagne cognac began its long journey. Scoring a perfect 100 in France's Gilbert & Gaillard 2010 wine guide, the 1914 vintage ($1,500) is exceptionally developed with yeasty, dark fruit flavors and plenty of woody sweetness. For the rare book collector on your list.
Godet Grande Champagne d' Ambleville
Their roots tracing back to the 16th century, the Godet family continues to produce cognac much in the same way as it has always been done in La Rochelle. This Grande Champagne d' Ambleville ($200) is comprised of eau-de-vie selected in the small village of Ambleville. Noticeably well-balanced with rounded orange and leather on the palate, no one will fault you for adding this one to your collection.
Delamain Pale & Dry XO
A lighter style cognac for the oenophile in your life, Delamain's Pale & Dry XO ($149) has a perfumy bouquet of vanilla, wood and vegetal aromas that give way to a fruit forward palate with a touch of anise. This is the ballet dancer of the bunch.
Courvoisier Connoisseur Collection 21-Year-Old
Sourcing 100% of the grapes for this bottling from the top-growth Grande Champagne region, Courvoisier's 21-year-old ($250) expresses two decades of French oak aging with a woody amber color and notes of candied fruit, leather and ginger bread. A perfect first bottle for starting someone's collection.
The eaux-de-vie blend in Hennessy's Paradis ($700) ranges anywhere from 25... to 130 years. Even more incredible than its advanced age is the fact that the same family of Cellar Masters has worked on this bottling since it was begun, meaning a grandson completed the work initiated by his grandfather. Woody spices, dried flowers and shimmering sweetness will great anyone old enough to appreciate such esteemed lineage.