Class speaks to Thomas Soret from Cognac Frapin about its unique production and hears of two new launches.
1/ Tell us about Cognac Frapin - what marks it apart from other houses in the Cognac region in terms of production style, size of house and target audience?
The difference at Cognac Frapin is that we manage all the processes that go into our cognacs. All our cognacs come from our vineyard (240ha of vines) located in the 1st Cru of Cognac Area: Grande Champagne. We carry out all of the vinification, the distillation, the ageing and the bottling at the estate. This gives us the possibility to push the quality at each step of the process. Our target audience will be consumers of wine and spirits, epicureans mainly.
2/ We're hearing there's a rebrand of Frapin Cigar Blend XO - why the refresh?
Frapin has been working to minimise its environmental impact since 1991 and, in 2018, was awarded HEV 3 or 'High Environmental Value' certification for its environmental management. To honour this, Cigar Blend XO's gift box has been completely redesigned (in reducing cardboard, ink usage, and a switch to uncoated cardboard. Our box and labels are 100% FSC certified, and locally sourced within France.
This has led to a 25% reduction in our carbon footprint, compared to the previous box. This initiative was achieved due to Frapin's participation in the climate protection project, a not-for-profit climate partner foundation. We are proud to say that this gift box is carbon neutral.
3/ Last time we tasted Cigar Blend it had some clear rancio notes - tell us about the production process and how you arrive at the taste profile.
The cigar blend XO come from our grapes in Grande Champagne. It has been distilled with lees, then aged for a long time in damp cellars (downstairs). In damp cellars we lose more alcohol than water by evaporation. This will impact this cognac by giving it more roundness, suppleness on the palate.
The result: balance – roundness – richness. Cigar Blend XO offers an exceptionally long finish in which all the flavours combine in subtle, complex harmony. The cognac reveals a discreet vanilla note from the tannin in the wood and a harmonious bouquet with lasting aromas of spices, dried fruits and rancio.
4/ And there's a new release coming - the 25-year-old from 1995. What should we expect?
At the Gabloteaux, more than anywhere else, nature had shown itself to be conciliatory. Under the control of the BNIC, the cognac was stored to age in a damp cellar ("Chai Millésimes"). Over time - 25 years - and much patience, you are left with a cognac with an assertive personality with strong roundness and suppleness. In humid cellars, about 2% of the precious treasure evaporates as angel's share. The rest, crafted with love, is for the drinker.
On the palate, the 1995 vintage has aromas of the orchard, fruit in full bloom which evolve on the palate towards fine vanilla and then delicate spicy notes. The warm nutmeg flavour balances the roundness of warm dried apricot. The finesse and balance go hand in hand until the lingering final note of rancio, long and characteristic of skilfully aged old cognacs.
5/ That spirit was laid down in the last millennium - how has the production at Frapin changed over the years?
At Cognac Frapin the method to make our cognacs has evolved. The grape varieties are different today than in the 19th century. The distillation is now in bigger pot stills (25HL today compare to 10HL). Concerning the ageing, there is a better balance with the wood in order to get more fruity notes.
6/ How do 1270 and VSOP lend themselves to cocktails?
Thanks to its great aromatic richness, Frapin 1270 or Frapin VSOP can be used as an aperitif especially for mixed drinks. It promises a great time for those who enjoy a spontaneous aperitif. Serve with tonic water, a dash of sparkling water or simply over ice. It is ideal base ingredient for aperitifs and the most sophisticated cocktails. But in the end, it is up to the bartender to decide.