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Rémy Martin VSOP (Fine Champagne Cognac)

Review: Rémy Martin VSOP (Fine Champagne Cognac)   87/100
A review by Chip Dykstra (Aka Arctic Wolf)
Published December 01, 2014

To produce their VSOP Fine Champagne CognacRémy Martin utilizes eaux-de-vie from only two of the crus in the Cognac appellation, Grande Champagne,and Petite Champagne which are generally recognized at the two premier region within the Cognac appellation. The grape juice from which the cognac is distilled is produced solely from white grapes which have been grown within these two appellations. The spirit is distilled twice upon a copper Charentes Still, and the resulting eaux de vie is aged in new french oak barrels and/or french oak barrels which previously contained Cognac eaux de vie.

The ages of the varies blended cognac in the VSOP Cognac must be (by law) a minimum of four years of age, although to maintain a consistent flavour profile from year to year, it would not be unusual for some of the specific cognac spirits in the blend to be aged for a longer period of time.

RM_VSOPBOTTLE_750ML_hiIn the Bottle 4.5/5

Rémy Martin VSOP Cognac is presented in the elegant green wine bottle shown to the left. As you can see the presentation is classy without being ostentatious. The label is smart and eye-catching with classic gold on black lettering for the brand name with black on red for the cognac designation. I find it delightful that Rémy Martin can turn an ordinary wine bottle into a cognac bottle that is almost a piece of art.

In the Glass 8.5/10

I began my examination of Rémy Martin VSOP by pouring a rather large 1 oz sample into my glencairn glass. The spirit displays a rich bronze colour with obvious brown overtones. I gave the glass a tilt and a slow twirl and saw that the liquid was  thickened and for a good while refused dropped medium-sized drooplets down the inside of my glass. The initial aroma is dominated by rich oak spice and cedar. It takes a few minutes before I notice the caramel toffee and a few more minutes before I can discern dark fruity raisin-like smells rising into the breezes.

As I continue to nose the glass my impression is that this is a much heavier, more oak laden VSOP than the other VSOP Cognac spirits I have encountered to this point. The oak aroma is leathery and the fruit smells which dominate are figs, dry apricots, and dark raisins. There is also a bit of baked apple complete with touches of cinnamon and clove and some dark black tarry tobacco spice and treacle as well. I wait for quite a while, and finally some green grape smells begin to appear.

There is a lot to like in the breezes, although I would describe this as dark and brooding rather than fresh and vibrant.

In the Mouth  52.5/60

The dark, brooding nature which Rémy Martin VSOP has shown me thus far, continues through the palate, as I am struck by flavours of dark bittersweet chocolate and caramel treacle wrapped up in old leather and oak spice.

Given time in the glass, the cognac begins to lighten with flavours of sweeter milk chocolate, some spicy cloves and fresh from the box raisins which reach out to the taste buds. Lurking further underneath the main flavours are oaky vanillans, roasted brazil nuts, port dipped cigars, and a touch of briny salt, all of which bring me back  to that dark brooding feeling I began with.

In the Throat 13/15

The spirit is a medium to heavy bodied cognac, and as such it has a decently long finish which is full of bittersweet chocolate and raisins. There is a nice lingering spicy sweetness which almost bumps the score another notch.

The Afterburn 8.5/10

Rémy Martin VSOP seems to have teased me throughout the review. In many ways the spirit acts more like an XO Cognac (with its rich oakiness and its dark bittersweet chocolate flavours), than it does a younger more vibrant VSOP which in my mind is more typically full of fresh vibrant fruit. I admired the dark brooding XO-like flavour, and had the spirit given me the more of the added depth of an XO, alongside that brooding character, my score would have been much higher.

You may click this link to read some of my other Brandy and Cognac Reviews

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Suggested Recipe

In the beginning (er … in the early to mid 1800s) cocktails were a simple bar drink which were put together using just a base distilled spirit, sugar, water and bitters. In those days a ‘Brandy Cocktail’ differed from a ‘Whisky Cocktail’, only in that Brandy was used instead of Whisky as the base spirit. However, very early on (sometime around 1850) bartenders began to use liqueurs (typically Orange Curacao or Benedictine) either in conjunction with or sometimes in place of the ‘sugar’ in the recipe. Soon thereafter, a sour fruit garnish was added and the more complicated bar drink was called a ‘Fancy’.

Fancy Brandy Cocktail SAM_1371This is a modern version of the traditional Brandy Fancy.

Fancy VSOP Cocktail

2 oz Rémy Martin VSOP
3/8 oz Orange Curacao
1/8 oz Sugar syrup
3 dashes Angostura bitters
1 dashed Fees cocktail bitters
ice
lemon slice

Rim a chilled cocktail glass with sugar
Place the first five ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice
Shake until the sides of the shaker frost (or are very cold)
Strain into a ‘Fancy’ chilled cocktail glass
Float a slice of Lemon on the top
Enjoy

Please Enjoy Responsibly!

Note: If  you are interested in more of my original cocktail recipes, please click this link (Cocktails and Recipes) for more of my mixed drink recipes!

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My Final Score is out of 100 and you may (loosely) interpret the score as follows:

0-25     A spirit with a rating this low would actually kill you.
26-49   Depending upon your fortitude you might actually survive this.
50 -59  You are safe to drink this…but you shouldn’t.
60-69   Substandard swill which you may offer to people you do not want to see again.
70-74    Now we have a fair mixing spirit.  Accept this but make sure it is mixed into a cocktail.
75-79    You may begin to serve this to friends, again probably still cocktail territory.
80-84    We begin to enjoy this spirit neat or on the rocks. (I will still primarily mix cocktails)
85-89    Excellent for sipping or for mixing!
90-94    Definitely a primary sipping spirit, in fact you may want to hoard this for yourself.
95-97.5 The Cream of the Crop
98+       I haven’t met this bottle yet…but I want to.

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal (Recommended only as a mixer)
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal (Recommended for sipping and or a high quality mixer)
90 – 95         Gold Medal (Highly recommended for sipping and for sublime cocktails.)
95.5+            Platinum Award (Highest Recommendation)

 
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