Friday, September 21, 2007

An Afternoon with Mr. Park

Sometimes this job is very nice. Yesterday afternoon, just after lunchtime, Dominic Park walked in the store. Mr. Park is the British owner of the Cognac house, Maison Park, and he brought something interesting for us to try.

He had a barrel sample of 1932 vintage Maison Park Cognac. This was at cask strength, which after all that time was only about 84 proof (42% abv), unadulterated with caramel coloring or boisé. It was a beautiful experience and a privilege to taste.

What’s interesting, though, is that Maison Park doesn't bottle this brandy by itself. It serves as a component part of their Vieille Grande Champagne Premier Cru bottling. Mr. Park didn't think there was enough acid or alcohol left for a balanced drink. We agreed, although reluctantly, after considering the beauty of the Premier Cru bottling.

It reminds me of another experience with another Cognac producer from Pierre Ferrand. They poured some 1914 vintage Cognac for us to try. It was history in a glass, and fascinating. But then they poured some of their Ancestrale blend, which was composed of brandies from 1928, 1929 and 1931. The difference was astonishing! The depth and complexity that the multi-vintage blend was just riveting.

What this leads us to believe is that a great deal of the art in Cognac is in knowing which brandies will marry together to offer the kind of experience that such a luxurious drink should offer.

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