Golden moments: put yourself in a bowl of cognac | wine

Cognac VSOP Society (£29, thewinesociety.com) When I think of cognac, I often find myself immersed in a kind of free association of images from a very particular male fantasy of the good life. Walnut dashboards, highly intricate Swiss watches, Savile Row suits, impossible silk ties, and on a glass table by the arm of the Eames chair at midnight, a crystal bowl and a hand-blown mug of glowing amber. A whiff of luxury brands tracking cognacs like those scented strips in a glossy magazine undoubtedly account for much of their resilient global popularity: after a brief epidemic decline, sales of French brandy reached €3.8 billion according to the association of cognac producers, BNIC. Sometimes, however, I wonder, if all the glossy, luxurious work obscures what makes the best of cognacs such a delight: the subtle level of craft that transforms neutral white grapes into very charming, intensely flavored scents like small family bottles of wine. Owned product, Château d’Orignac.

Hine Rare VSOP Cognac (£45, Waitrose) With sales twice the size of its nearest competitor, Rémy-Martin, Hennessy is the largest brand in the Cognac region of Charentes in southwest France. Hennessy is part of the luxury French group LVMH, and is responsible for some of the most appealing examples of cognac follies targeting the 1%, such as the undulating golden decanter designed by architect Frank Gehry to mark the 150th anniversary of packaging the couple’s Hennessy XO. Years ago (yours for £15,000 on release). The bulk of its sales come from more everyday creations, such as the brightly-fruited Hennessy VS (£35, Tesco), which, like fellow LVMH stablecoin Moët & Chandon Brut NV Champagne, is remarkably consistent in quality given the sheer amount that is produced. . For me, however, candy cane cognac tends to be a VSOP (Old Pale Very Special) level: here cognac must be aged in barrel for at least four years (versus two for VS, or very special), which brings levels An extra bit of smooth complexity like what you find at VSOP, Hine Rare has a rather subtle scent.

Janneau VSOP Armagnac (£34.99, masterofmalt.com) VSOP Cognac (£53.95, thewhiskyexchange.com) and rich fall fruit for small family business Château de Montifaud VSOP Cognac (£37, tanners-wines.co.uk). I’m also part of the elegant but intense orange and fig richness of VSOP made by Janneau in the small brandy-producing southwestern French region of Armagnac. Once you’ve got a taste of VSOP, it’s hard not to be tempted by at least the next higher level, however: Class XO (Extra Old), which has a minimum aging requirement of up to six years. One of the longest-lived masters of cognac, Delamain is a house founded in 1762 that makes nothing smaller than the XO. As a result, their creations aren’t cheap, but a bottle like Delamain Pale & Dry XO Premier Cru Grande Champagne Cognac (£80, Waitrose) is a marvel of concentrated dried fruit, spice and a silky texture.

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