- On January 28, 2019
Cognac is seeing a surge in popularity, with four consecutive years of double-digit growth, only slowed by the size of their on-hand supply. The largest producers are fueling that growth, with brands like Hennessy, Remy Martin, Courvoisier, and d’Usse. These houses buy grapes from smaller growers and blend brandies to create a consistent house style, similar to large Champagne producers like Veuve Clicquot and Moet Chandon. Beyond the brandy boom are the small, family-owned producers who toil away in their vineyards and cellars. Some sell to the big names, but a handful grows grapes, ferments, distills, and ages brandy in house. Their names are unrecognized despite their multiple generations of hard work, and they lack the name recognition to attract world-famous promoters like Nas, Jay-Z, P Diddy, and Snoop Dogg.
At the small, local, and nationally acknowledged restaurant, The Bachelor Farmer, is a cultivated list of unknown brandy available by the glass. A manager, Jon Palmer, caught wind of the new locally available selection of brandy from Charles Neal, an importer recognized as the modern authority on French brandy. Charles’ philosophy is to find the small producers who go unnoticed by other distributors but also produce quality at a reasonable cost to the consumer. Jon’s current selections are mostly Cognac, Armagnac, and Calvados and prices range between $14 and $61 for a pour.
Recently, Aaron and Erica went to the Bachelor Farmer to meet Jon and taste through his curated list of brandy in hopes of finding a few bottles for our shelves. The experience was immersive and extensive, and to have a wonk such as Jon in our Twin Cities is as rare as his brandy list. His knowledge in brandy production and regional differences is one of a kind. If you get a chance to talk with Jon, listen to him. Finally, there is a guideline in food and drink pairing that states, “what grows together, goes together,” which speaks to the regional specificity of drinks. French brandy producing regions are also known for their rich cuisines like foie gras, liver pate, and cheese. If you do happen to find yourself at The Bachelor Farmer, they have an otherworldly charcuterie plate that brings out the best qualities of their brandy list.
From that evening, Zipps found a few select bottles of Cognac and Armagnac to fill out the shelves. All the brandy come from small estates and a few bottles were distilled in the 70’s. Look for our post next week on Cognac, and the following week with Armagnac.