Frapin Château Fontpinot XO (41%, Grande Champagne, Single Vineyard)

You know what they say, with a good Cigar you need a good Cognac. Cigar? Check! Cognac? Check! We’ll have another Frapin, and with a name like Château Fontpinot XO Single Vineyard Cognac, who am I to pick something different. Earlier I reviewed another Frapin, the VSOP, and was all but impressed with it. The nose was great, but the taste, and especially the finish were big let-downs. Lets give Frapin another chance and move on up to this XO. You know you’ve hit the jackpot when you find out this isn’t bottled at 40% ABV, but at a mind-blowing 41% ABV. Surely this will do the trick? As you know, XO must be at least 6 years old, but this XO is blended with liquids, 18 to 20 years old, part of this, a finish for 6 months in new oak casks.

Frapin Chateau Fontpinot XOColor: Copper gold.

Nose: Nice and strong aroma. Fruity, but it also has quite some depth to it. This isn’t closed at all, it leaps out of the glass to entice you. Spicy. Wet and funky cinnamon. Leather and breaths of fresh air. Nice woody notes and a plethora of fruity notes. Mostly apple and some cherries. It’s almost like standing at the green grocers. Quite some wood, with only a mere hint of licorice (and some tar). Floral and leafy notes appear as well as some vanilla. Give it even more time to breath and the smell of a nice and luxury fresh cologne appears. Well this one has it all. Give it lots of time, because the nose shows a lot of development. Put it in your glass, aireate it for a while and then cover it up with a lid. Leave it for a while and then sniff it again, Stellar!

Taste: Starts sugary sweet, and a bit thin. Next the fruity notes release themselves on my tongue. Some tannins and woody notes stay behind when the liquid is making its way down, warming me. Chewy unripe walnut bitterness. The darker brooding notes from the nose are even bigger in the taste. Funky cinnamon again, combined with brown sugar. I’m not sure the taste is as complex as the nose, but I’m not complaining. The walnut bitterness (not a lot of it, so you can sit back again) stays behind, as well as some mint from old wood. Apply notes are here too. It’s definitely a Cognac, but it has some traits of a good Calvados. This is definitely a better blend with more age behind its belt compared to the VSOP, which also has a hideous looking bottle, but let not get distracted now. Ugly bottle, that VSOP has. There I said it again.

So we have a good nose, and we do have a nice entry and a good body. The weak point is again the finish. It gets more rustic and organic, but that is not the problem. The problem is the balance of the finish. It starts to unravel a bit. Not every aroma stays well-integrated. The finish is also a bit simple, but hey, we’ve come a long way compared to the VSOP. This one I do like, and I didn’t even get to try it with a Cigar yet. Not perfect but very enjoyable nevertheless.

Points: 85


Frapin V.S.O.P. (40%, Grande Champagne, 1er Cru de Cognac)

The beginning of the year saw the launch of Cognac as a distillate to be reviewed on the pages of Master Quill. Serge calls it a Malternative and I think I understand why. Sure it’s another distillate, that’s not made from distilling Beer, like Whisky, but made from distilling Wine. A different distillate altogether. Is it an alternative to (Single Malt) Whisky? It’s not an alternative in taste, it’s too different, and I don’t come across a lot of cask strength Cognac’s to name but a difference. I do feel it can be an alternative to Whisky considering price. Most Single Malts are becoming more and more expensive (or younger a.k.a. the NAS phenomenon), and the consumer is looking for different distillates that are just more affordable. I always was interested in Bourbon’s and Rum’s but never considered them as alternatives, just different. But even those distillates are becoming more and more expensive.

In the case of Whisky, just look at the rise in price of your beloved eighteen year olds. Highland Park, Springbank, Longrow etc. You could buy Highland Park 18 for a lot less than it is sold for today, and I’m not talking about a decade ago, just look what happened in the past two years. You and I, who remember the old pricing, might not be willing paying double for it in the space of one year, but that’s no problem for the distillery. A new customer is willing to pay that amount, first fo all, because he or she can afford it or did not get used to the old price. This brings us right back to an alternative for Malts. This Frapin costs as much as a good blend, but as I said above, it tastes like something completely different. Personally I see it as a different distillate, with its own particular taste, love it or not, but it won’t make me trade in my bottles of Whisky, so in that sense it’s not an alternative at all…

I believe if you are looking for an alternative for your Whisky, you should look at other producers of Whisky, wo still can produce a nice and affordable Whisky. Sure if you love Whisky, you won’t find a replacement unless it’s a Whisky as well, but more on that later…

Frapin V.S.O.P. (40%, Grande Champagne, 1er Cru de Cognac)Color: Orange gold.

Nose: Quite woody. Orange skins. Fresh lacquer. Old bakelite. Cocktail Cherries. Definitely some oaky vanilla. Dry earth and woodchips, just like smelling Orchids. Sweetish. Sweet vanilla, but this time only hints of (sweet) licorice, something I get in a lot of Cognacs. Dry and dusty, like listening to Gheorghe Zamfir. Quite aromatic, but not very fruity or floral. Smells nice overall.

Taste: Wood, caramel toffee and lots of almonds, Quite sweet actually. Vanilla ice-cream. Hints of whipped cream. Some more fruit, but its hard to point out which. It’s like sweet yellow fruit yoghurt. Sweet, yoghurt, without any of the acidity or dryness. Quite light. The finish is the weakness here. Not a lot is happening over there. Only the candy cherry taste somehow lingers on a bit.

Baffling difference between the nose and the actual taste. It’s almost like the nose shows the potential, but the taste has been in part ruined. Added sugar maybe? Anyway, the whole is too light, and leaves next to nothing behind.

Points: 77