Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Cognac Audry Tasting Lunch


Seeing as I've got 45 minutes to kill on the train this morning, I thought I'd take the opportunity to report on a fantastic event I had the pleasure of attending last week.
In the oppulent surroundings of the Knight's Room of Simpsons in the Strand, Cognac Audry's own Bernard Boisson guided some of London's most respected somelliers through a three course meal, together with five of the worlds most highly acclaimed Cognacs.
With a range comprising the Audry XO, Reserve Speciale, Memorial, Exception and Tres Ancienne, and a delightful menu put together by Simpsons, this was a working lunch we all thoroughly enjoyed.
Hosted by Bernard Boisson, Willie Lebus of Bibendum, and yours-truly, the order of the day was digestif matching: an often overlooked element of the dining experience.
The first brightly shining star of the show was the Reserve Speciale (a blend of equal parts grande and petit champagne eaux de vies, aged between 15 and 30 years) alongside a roast quail with truffled mash, spinach & port sauce. With the specifically selected wine - a 2007 Savennieres - the Reserve Speciale's delicate, floral body went down a treat.
Next course was pan-fried venison with parsnip tart and brazed onions. This time around, the concensus of the somelliers favoured the Exception. A truly ethereal spirit, the 30-90 year aged blend of 80% grande champagne and 20% petite champagne displayed the wonderously ellusive rancio which is so often sought and so rarely achieved. An extremely powerful cognac which more than held it's own against some strong flavours on the plate, all at the table agreed this spirit punched well above it's weight in terms of pricing.
Finishing off with a hot chocolate fondant (pictured) really laid down the gauntlet for the final match.



With such rich, palette coating flavours, we really needed to move up a notch.
We found that the 100% grade champagne Tres Ancienne - a single cask aged for more than 5 decades - with it's 50%abv was the perfect match. The higher proof cut smoothly through the unctuous chocolate, and the ancient, vegetal notes which only a mature spirit such as this can bring to the table were simply devine.
A surprise at this point though, was the XO. Despite being "entry level" for the Audry house, this is no ordinary XO.
The youngest E.d.V in the blend is aged more than twice as long as required by law, and the oldest just a touch older than myself (for the time being) at 30 years.
Overall, all present were very impressed at the outstanding quality of these cognacs, the complexity which can be achieved at such low price points, and the unwavering enthusiam of Bernard Boisson - surely one of the hardest working retired men around!

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