Last week, I tackled Tesseron’s Lot No 29, which is a Cognac that’s probably best known for Robert Parker giving it a score of 100. In the links that mention his scoring, it’s also consistently mentioned that the Tesseron family, who are obviously known for their Cognac, are also known by wine lovers as the proprietor of Pontet Canet and Lafon Rochet.
This struck me as surprising since it’s my first time learning of a Cognac producer, outside of companies like Louis Vuitton Moët Hennesy, who is also into wine. But then I should also not have been surprised, since the city and region of Cognac and Bordeaux are close to each other. If you’re wondering why the grapes used for Cognac are different from the ones used in French wine: something about Cognac grapes’ acidity not being optimal. Some grapes for Cognac are bottled as wine, but I’ve been told that these are merely drunk in the region as table wine and aren’t something the wine collectors and speculators bother with.
Tesseron is surprisingly locally available, since the Philippines is quite a desolate place for small brands with no marketing budget. They’re also not discussed much in the online brandy forums. Safe to say I underestimated the popularity and reach of this brand. I guess it’s time for me to know more about them.
Maison Abel Tesseron was founded by Abel Tesseron in 1905. He adopted a long term policy of building up stocks that were stored in a 12th century crypt. There’s one estate each in Grand Champagne and Petite Champagne where he distilled, aged, and blended his eaux-de-vie.
In 1940, Abel’s son Guy joined the business. He brought an acute business sense with him. One of his notable decisions was to purchase Chateau Pontet Canet in 1975, which they still own today. Aside from that, he also helped improve their reputation even more through the art of aging.
Sometime in the early 2000s Guy’s children Alfred and Gerard decided to release their Cognac under the family name. I guess this explains why they still have so much old stock.
Noe Tesseron, Alfred’s son, started contributing to the business in 2018. Being young, he’s bringing a modern vision, part of which is creating a more subtle and complex style of Cognac.
Apparently, Tesseron is one of the last houses to still use Ugni Blanc, Colombard, and Folle Blanche. Most of the other houses only use Ugni Blanc now. The grapes are harvested in early autumn and fermented for up to 9% ABV. To my delight, they distill on-the-lees, which is something Camus also does to make the brandy more flavorful.
Like in my Tesseron Lot No 29 review, the samples I reviewed are from this sample pack, which goes for €79.
Tesseron Lot No 53 XO Perfection – Review
40% ABV. €263 from Cognac Expert. £262 from The Whisky Exchange.
On the nose: I find this to be very expressive from the start. It’s rich with bright fruits. I get medium-intense and delicate aromas of dried apricots, figs, roasted grapes, peaches, and plums that last quite a while. After these are lighter aromas of apples, pears with skin, chocolate, leather, cinnamon, and tannins that don’t last as long.
In the mouth: Not as fruity but still considerably fruity. I get light tastes of figs, chocolates, roasted grapes, peaches, and plums. After these are more subtle tastes of blood orange, oranges, pears, and leather. These notes just rotate for a long time.
Wow. For something supposedly from 1953, this isn’t nearly as tannic as I expected it to be. I wonder if the Cognac used for these were aged in more used casks, which resulted in a weaker cask influence. Or, it could just be their blending? Regardless, I love how fruity, rich and complex this is despite the low ABV. The flavors lasted for a long time too.
A remarkable drink that’s fairly priced for how long it’s been in existence. Just imagine what has happened since 1953. I prefer this over the Lot No 29.
Tesseron Lot No 76 XO Tradition – Review
40% ABV. €129 from Cognac Expert. £110 from The Whisky Exchange.
On the nose: Initially very tannic and leathery with hints of figs. After about 20 minutes of opening up, there’s still an overbearing tannic texture. But it’s less pronounced. Behind it are light and quick aromas of honey, floral, leather, cinnamon, vinegar and grapefruit peel.
In the mouth: It’s not as tannic as on the nose. The overbearing tannic texture is also not here. I get light and quick tastes of figs, mocha, cinnamon syrup, blood orange, dried apricots and milk chocolate.
The first thing I notice is this isn’t as expressive and as bright as the Lot No 53, but it’s still not as tannic as I expected it to be.
Because I initially found this to be shy, I let it open up for 20 minutes, which is a fair amount of time for a spirit that’s supposedly old. Keep in mind that despite being from 1976, there’s no mention of how old this is or when it was bottled. But after that I still wasn’t impressed. At that point, I also didn’t have any samples left to re-assess it.
Regardless of my opinions, this is still a Cognac worth trying. Afterall, how often can one try something from 1976? Price wise, it’s also still a good buy if what you’re after is its being from 1976.
I love those little sample packs like this. I have one from Tomatin that includes the 12, 15, and 18. I wish far more brands would do something like that, because I prefer to cast a wide net and try a lot of things without having to dedicate an entire 750 to the cause. I’d be willing to pay a reasonable upcharge to do it. 300mL for the price of 750 if it means I get to try multiple samples.
Agreed, Tony. Sample packs like these are a small commitment but are very useful. I also agree that I wish more brands did this. If not brands, maybe some independent stores who can do this legally.