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Marancheville 10 Year Old Grande Champagne Cognac

­I’ll be on a Cognac binge for the next few Sundays.

I was surprised when an online store called Cognac Expert offered to send me (and a few others) Cognac samples earlier this year… the only catch being that I post the reviews of what I received on their website. Of course, I accepted. The samples should have arrived months ago, but local government efficiency is infamous for a reason. This Marancheville 10 year is the first of five 30ml samples.

The world of brown spirits is mostly ruled by age statements. Yet, mainstream Cognac has been successful despite their classification system being different. More or less everyone knows XO Cognac is “the shit,” but most will not know what XO stands for, nor the regulations around it. If that’s the case with the Cognac’s most famous age statement, it’s less likely for consumers to know what VS and VSOP mean.

Years ago, I heard that Cognac’s AOC doesn’t allow putting certain numbers on the labels, such as age statements and vintages. I never was really sure if this was true or just a misunderstanding of the rules. I guess this is why some lesser-known brands’ limited releases use terms such as “Lot X.” My earliest encounter with a Cognac labeled this way is Tesseron’s Lot 90. 90 refers to the year of 1990. This is some Cognac brands’ way of saying “this specific release is from that certain vintage.” I feel like these regulations hold back the category; it’s just harder for consumers to understand the terms and think it’s a safe purchase.

However, Cognac’s AOC has undergone some changes over the years The XO designation used to mean the youngest Cognac in the blend had to be six years old, but in 2018 it was changed to ten years old. Recently, Cognac has also been allowed to use cask finishing. From my understanding, only French oak was allowed to be used for aging.

I asked a Malt reader who works for Cognac Expert if Cognac is now allowed to have age statements. He sent me an answer from the BNIC, which was in French. (The Bureau of National Interprofessionnel du Cognac). The BNIC is basically the governing body for Cognac. Paraphrasing the English translation, use of age statements is authorized as long as they refer to the age of the youngest brandy, and does not create a risk to confuse or deceive the consumer. Unfortunately, it doesn’t say since when the use of age statements has been allowed.

My dive into Cognac isn’t so deep when compared to whisky and rum, so this is my first time to encounter a Cognac with an age statement. This is also the first time I’ve heard of and will get to taste anything from Marancheville.

Sadly, their website doesn’t have much information. Luckily, the Cognac Expert podcast interviewed their head blender and distiller, Gregoir. According to him, Marancheville is a Cognac house that’s been around for a long time. They’ve mostly distilled, aged, and blended Cognac to sell. One of the brands they supply Cognac to is Courvoisier.

The Marencheville brand itself was created in 2014 by Gregoir and Laurent. Gregoir is from the family. Laurent is Gregoir’s friend. The house is based in the Grand Champagne region of Cognac. Despite being a new brand, they have a lot of old stock due to inventory passed down by the family.

As mentioned above, they distill, age, blend and bottle their own Cognac. Gregoir’s family owns about 30 hectares of vineyards in Grand Champagne. Laurent owns about 100 hectares of vineyards in Segonzac. I’m not too familiar with these terms yet, but there’s mention of Marancheville having both humid and dry cellars.

Aside from being new, the reason why you most likely haven’t heard of this brand is because the Marancheville brand is only about 1% of the house’s business. They also don’t have any marketing and only rely on word of mouth.

Marancheville 10 Year Old Grande Champagne – Review

40% ABV. €84 from Cognac Expert.

Color: Honey.

On the nose: Very fruit heavy and a bit earthy. Upfront are medium and pleasant aromas of dried apricots, an assortment of berries, peaches, and apples. In between are subtle and short rancio aromas of dried shiitake mushrooms, leather and something powdered and herbal. Ginseng comes to mind. After leaving this for around 15 minutes, the fruity notes change. I start to get persimmons, Thompson grapes and nectarines. Somewhere in there are also subtle notes of star fruits and pineapples.

In the mouth: Just as fruity as on the nose minus the rancio notes. Unlike on the nose, I get more black grape flavors here. I also taste some honey, dried apricots and apple chips. The sweetness here also reminds me of a Chinese herbal soup that’s said to be good for the lungs. In my house, it’s been made to help with cough and colds. It has white fungus, goji berries, dates and sometimes, chestnuts. There’s a lingering oaky taste in the background. I’m going to assume it’s the French oak.

Conclusions:

It’s Cognac like this that makes me say “This is why I dabble in Cognac.” I don’t get these flavors anywhere else. French oak plus terroir plus a distiller’s techniques really make quite an experience.

I like the nose better than the mouth, mainly because the light mouthfeel was a bit of a letdown down. It feels like this was chill-filtered and/or dilution ruined the texture. This is like a bad first impression for tasting. I also find this to be a bit hot for the abv. Luckily it goes away quickly.

I don’t mind dilution, but I wish they bottled this at least 46% or 48% so this can be more enjoyable. Without marketing, it’s pretty automatic that only the geeks will be interested in their products. To geeks, 40% ABV is just sad. Hopefully, there is also no boise in here.

The price may seem steep for an unknown 10 year old Cognac. But, since XO Cognac is now required to be at least 10 years old, it’s a good price. Compare it to the big brand XO Cognacs such as Remy (€ 234) and Martell (€ 192from Cognac Expert), it’s a good deal. You’re not paying for any of the marketing costs the big guys use up.

Overall a good first experience from Marancheville. I like this, but I’m sure I’d like this and the Cognac house more if I get to try higher ABV releases.

Score: 6/10

Photo and sample from Cognac Expert, which does not affect our notes or score.

John

John is a cocktail and spirits enthusiast born and raised in Manila. His interest started with single malts in 2012, before he moved into rum and mezcal in search of malterntaitves – and a passion for travel then helped build his drinks collection.

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