A Dessert Cognac?

At the conclusion of our roundtable blind tasting, we were served a most intriguing white wine with an amber hue and a bouquet reminiscent of a young Cognac, Scents of smoke, toasty oak and caramelized pear greeted the nose. There was a lovely spicy, fresh citrus tinged grapiness which made us all want to sniff and and sniff. On the palate the wine was powerful, aromatic, spicy and sweet with a strong suggestion of the juice from grapes. The taste of almond was a most attractive component.  This was a high octane wine to be sure with plenty of alcohol, acidity and a rather pleasant bitterness on the finish which balanced the sugar. It turned out to be the dessert wine from the Cognac district in southwestern France: Pineau des Charentes. This distinctive dessert wine is made by combining year old Cognac with the unfermented—hence sweet—juice of the grape from which Cognac is made, Ugni Blanc. In France it is an aperitif wine. It is about 18% in alcohol, the same level as Vermouth. Frankly it can also be served with chesses and cake. This particular gem is the work of Jean-Luc Pasquet whose family has owned the 18 acre estate in Cognac since 1730. since 1995 all farming is organic at the estate. Pasquet’s Cognacs are highly regarded and for good reasons.  An opened bottle of Pineau des Charantes can be nursed successfully over several weeks. That makes it a good buy at $35. Your first encounter with a good Pineau des Charantes is an adventure you will be glad you undertook.



Bob Millman  New York Vintners

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