Cognac Week – Day 6: Ragnaud-Sabourin Alliance N° 20 Reserve Speciale (43%, Grande Champagne, 1er Cru du Cognac, Circa 2006)

Cognac Week LogoAlready the sixth day of Master Quill’s Cognac Week, and we’ll finish off this week with Ragnaud-Sabourin. In no way is this week representative of the huge Cognac World, but I already found out I like quite some Cognacs from Ragnaud-Sabourin, that’s why I’ll finish off with two of their expressions. Today we’ll start with the Alliance N° 20 Reserve Speciale. First we see that this Cognac doesn’t have the 40% ABV. of most others I reviewed up ’till now. Most had a watery taste, so like me Ragnaud-Sabourin felt it could benefit from some more alcohol to transport the aroma. My kind of thinking! This is a Cognac made from grapes grown in the Grande Champagne region, and it is an older bottle. Todays version looks a lot less stuffy.

Cognac is a distillate of White Wine. To be called a Cognac (a Cru), it must be distilled twice and 90% of the grapes used must be Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche and Colombard. The last 10% may be Folignan, Jurançon Blanc, Meslier St-François, Montils, Sélect and Sémillon. When the Cognac won’t be a Cru, the rules are a bit less strict. Percentages differ as well as the use of different grape varieties. Ageing must be done in Limousin oak for at least two years.

Color: Orange gold.

Nose: Very aromatic. A wealth of depth and no so unbelievably smooth. This has a lot more going for it than only that smoothness most Cognacs have. Sure it’s smooth, but it also has a hint of petrol, like a good Riesling. Hints of mushrooms, lavas and dust. Licorice, fruity with thick toffee ice-cream. A breath of fresh air and some nice spicy oak in the background. Definitely French oak since this is lacking the vanilla of american oak. Slightly tarry and a tiny hint of soap and burnt caramel. Wonderful stuff. A really good nose.

Taste: Licorice and just after that some thick caramelized cherries. Warming. Already a nice woody attack. Slightly bitter hint of wood passing by mixed with a hint of sweetness. Toffee again, but also the burnt caramel. Hints of licorice and paint. Vegetal. Although not as complex as the nose, still a lot happening here, with some nice surprises. The bitterness stays on well into the finish. If only it would have been slightly more complex (like the nose). If the bitterness would have worn of towards the finish, this would have been near perfect.

This is 43% ABV and it shows. In style it is much rougher than your usual Cognac, but the slightly higher strength is doing its part as well. Fabulous Cognac, especially for me being an avid Single Malt fan. If you’re a distinguished Cognac gentleman, this may be a little bit to rough ’round the edges (and slightly too high in alcohol), but I love this one, so…

Points: 86