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Cognac Tasting with Remy Martin

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Photo by Greg Thompson for LAist

It is natural to think that Champagne Cognac was named to borrow prestige from the famous bubbly. However, it was really "borrowed" from the Romans who planted vineyards all over Europe. Champagne derives from the Latin 'Campagnia' or plains and refers to a layer of chalky soil under the plains. Perfect to grow grapes, absorbing and slowly releasing excess water. and reflecting sun to warm the vines & ripen the fruit. Sparkling wine wasn't even perfected until the 1700's nor made famous til the 1800's. Remy Martin has been making Fine Champagne Cognac since 1724. In 1738 the King granted Remy a Royal Accord to expand even though planting vineyards at the time forbidden due to famine

At the Beverly Hills Hotel last Thursday, Vincent Gere (ZherRAY', not like Richard Gere), Director of Remy Martin Cognacs showed 1738 Accord Royal, named for that Accord. He hid it among 4 other luxury spirits paired w/ canapes. We were told to nose each just above the glass (The French use 'nose' as a verb).The vapors are layered; the lighter aromas float above the glass. The heavier layers are in the glass.

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Glass #1 was intense, a bit hot, and vegetal...familiar. At the rim, the heavy spirits were smoky, rounded. Peat? Gere admitted it was Scotch. Psych! Blended. Short on the palate, but sweet and smooth. Heavy Malt character for a blend. Walker Blue? 'Something like that'!

#2 More pungent, drier...mature, less vegetal. Closer to the glass: more aggressive. Butterscotch, fiery angular finish. More body, dry flavor, bitter with a hot finish. Paired with Balik Salmon, Meyer Lemon Aioli and American Caviar on Corn Blini.

#3 Sweeter,, rustic, raisin. Closer to the glass, more elegant. Vanilla, oak. Vincent notes the bitter taste of oak. American oak? Monsieur Gere agrees....Bourbon! Paired w/ Beef Tenderloin Tartare on Grilled Baguette et Gherkin.

#4 Lighter nose, good body, fruit, alcohol. Cinnamon, chocolate. Sweet but dry finish. Dried figs, jammy. Fine Champagne characteristics. Vincent announces the Remy Martin 1738 Accord Royal! 65% Grande Champagne, 35% Petit Champagneranging from 4-26 years age. Paired well w/ Tomato Buffalo Mozzarella et Pesto Canape on Pumpernickel Crouton.

#5 Less fruit, thinner, bitter oak. More burn. Anticlimactic! Younger Cognac? Pairing: Slow Roasted Peking Duck Breast speared with a Fig, Orange Segment, and Toasted Pistachio.

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Other than the hints and guesses, the identity of the mystery spirits remains unrevealed (and if some of us may have figured them out, maybe we should just keep that to ourselves).