What to drink this week

Pre­ci­sion Co­gnac

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country Notebook -

Keep a stiff up­per lip with a fine bot­tle of brandy, rec­om­mends Harry Eyres

I don’t know how your mood is af­ter the Brexit vote, but if you’re feel­ing more in need of some­thing to stiffen the sinews in the face of un­cer­tainty than ei­ther a Fara­gian pint or a brashly cel­e­bra­tory bub­bly, then I might have the req­ui­site tip­ple. ‘Claret is the liquor for boys,’ wrote Sa­muel John­son, ‘port for men; but he who as­pires to be a hero must drink brandy.’ I imag­ine the brandy he had in mind was Co­gnac, which, at its best, com­bines strength with ex­tra­or­di­nary fi­nesse.

Why you should be drink­ing it

Co­gnac may be the least known of the great French wine ar­eas, I was re­flect­ing af­ter two re­cent short vis­its. Yes, I did write ‘wine’. Brandy is con­cen­trated wine and there is in­creas­ing recog­ni­tion in this large re­gion, dom­i­nated by a few big houses, that the qual­ity of the wine is para­mount in mak­ing the finest brandies. Tra­di­tion­ally blended from dif­fer­ent vine­yards and years, Co­gnac is mov­ing towards greater pre­ci­sion and def­i­ni­tion.

What to drink

An ex­cit­ing new de­vel­op­ment is Domaine de Bon­neuil from the small bou­tique house of Hine. This is sin­glevine­yard, sin­gle-vin­tage Co­gnac, from the heart of the best sub-re­gion, Grande Cham­pagne, and is strik­ingly del­i­cate, pure and pre­cise. The first two vin­tages, 2005 (£80; www. bbr.com) and 2006 (£83.90; www. he­do­nism.co.uk) have re­cently come on-stream: I marginally pre­fer the slightly fuller, more com­plex 2006 to the su­per-fine 2005. Even more ex­quis­ite, if you can find them, are Hine’s fa­mous Early-landed vin­tage Cog­nacs ma­tured in Bris­tol (£ 325 for the 1983, right; www.bbr. com).

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