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Christmas Wine & Spirits Show 2011

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

We are holding a tasting of over 150 different wines, whisky, rums, liqueurs and other spirits.
A tasting not to be missed:

Thursday, November 3rd 6.30pm -9pm

The Falmouth Beach Hotel
Gyllyngvase Beach, Falmouth, Cornwall.

Tickets £10 per person*
Refundable when you place an order for £40 or more on the night.

Entrance by ticket only.

Tickets available on 01326340226

Award Winning Brandy

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

We are delighted to able to sell Van Ryn’s Brandy from South Africa. Van Ryns Brandies are amongst the most highly awarded brandys in the World, with a long list of Gold medals and trophies behind them. We have the excellent 10 years old and superb 12 years old brandy. The 12 years old picked up the Best Brandy in the World at the IWSC in 2008 and 2009. The distillery has won the Best Brandy in the World Trophy on six occasions.

The Distillery is close to Stellenbosch, they use Chenin Blanc and Colombard grapes to make their brandies, they have a high natural fruit-acid content, essential in brandy making, and also impart a vibrant fruit and floral flavours.

If you have not tried these exceptional brandies we would highly recommend them.

Calvados- the fruity brandy

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Calvados is a brandy from a limited and strictly controlled area of Normandy in north-west France, where the temperate, maritime climate has long been perfect for fruit orchards. Calvados must be distilled from cider and/or perry, and aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years.

The delimited region has three crus with differing production regulations and fruit requirements. All Pays d’Auge calvados is made from 100 % apples whilst a minimum of 30 % pears is mandatory in Domfront. Interesting to note, is that to maintain the influence of the pear in the Domfront, all orchards in this region must be planted with a minimum of 15 % pears and after 16 years the legal minimum is 25 %.

What is Calvados Made From?

It is made from apples and /or pears ; both of which are members of the rose family.

Neither the apples nor the pears used are eating varieties ; they are very small, highly aromatic, extremely acidic and ideal for distillation. Calvados needs a broad palette in terms of aromas and tastes in order to produce a balanced, complex spirit. Therefore, as many as 48 different types of apples are permitted, which are classified into four groups :

bitter (e.g. Kermerien)

bitter/sweet (e.g. Mettais)

acidic (e.g. Rambault)

sweet (e.g. Binet Rouge)

Calvados must contain a minimum of 70 % bitter and bitter-sweet varieties and maximum of 30 % acidic varieties. Pears tend to be sweeter and bring discernible differences to calvados producing more feminine, elegant brandies with bouquet and fragrance. As with all appellations, the stated age must be that of the youngest constituent part of the blend.

3 stars Minimum 2 years ; except in Domfront where it is 3 years

Vieux/Reserve Minimum 3 years

Vieille Reserve/VSO P Minimum 4 years

Hors d’Age/Age Inconnu Minimum 6 years

Extra/XO /Napoleon Minimum 6 years

single vintage year/age statement

Maturation first briefly takes place in new oak casks, either Limousin or Tronçais, with a subsequent transfer to old Norman oak casks. Norman oak is a very dry wood, and when old does not give much in the way of character to the spirit. However, it does allow for a gentle evaporation, and therefore, concentration of the calvados.

Origins of Armagnac

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Armagnac is a brandy made from grapes from a limited and strictly controlled area in the Gers, Landes and Lot-et- Garonne départements of south-west France. It is produced from white wine, distilled, aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years, and bottled at a minimum of 40 % abv.

Unusually for a wine or spirit of quality, armagnac comes from sandy soils in an area that was once a deep undersea valley between the Pyrenées and the Massif Central.

The region’s temperate climate has two maritime influences : that of the Atlantic, ameliorated by the Landes Forest, and that of the Mediterranean brought on the Autan wind. These help to moderate temperatures and subsequently the fully fermented wines for distillation only achieve 9–10 % alcohol.

On the 25th May 1909, the region was delimited and on the 6th August 1936, the 15,000ha Armagnac AOC was born with three crus.

Bas Armagnac Lying lower than the other sub-regions (hence its name) and to the west the region’s 1er cru is an area of forested, rolling hills, on whose slopes lie the vineyards. A very heavy topsoil, known as boulbène, rich in limestone, lies over a somewhat acidic combination of sand, clay and pebbles. In some places this is mixed with iron giving rise to the term sables fauves (literally tawny sand). To the northwest of the sub-region the soilbecomes predominantly clay giving supple brandies that are relatively quick to mature and evoke associations of prunes, plums and tobacco.

Tenareze. Very rich in boulbène over clay and chalk, combining here to give brandies with slightly more finesse and a more rounded, aromatic, fruity style, with undertones of violets and which are capable of great age.

Haut Armagnac Located to the east of the region on clay and chalk slopes, this region can produce quality brandies

VS/Three Star Minimum 2 years

VSOP Minimum 5 years

XO/Napoleon Minimum 6 years

Hors d’Age Minimum 10 years

Single vintage year/age statement – These are minimum ages following the year of harvest and represent the youngest armagnac in the blend. Growers have five years from the harvest to declare brandies they wish to sell as vintage or age statement, however these must be aged a minimum of ten years before bottling.

The Ageing of Cognac

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Traditional casks are either 350 litre fûts or 540 litre tierçons and are made of oak. Old oak plays a considerable part in cognac maturation as 72 % abv spirit could leach excessive character from a new barrel. The spirit is affected in a number of ways during cask ageing ; it slowly, but positively oxidises, extracts colour and character from the oak, and evaporates slowly through the pores in the wood giving further concentration. Old, quality cognacs will obtain their colour and complexity of character from these interactions and after approximately a generation, especially with brandies that have been distilled sur lie, one detects notes of rancio charentais, a certain oily richness discernible only in great, old cognacs. Younger cognacs can boost both their colour and character by the addition of spirit caramel and boisé—a concentrated cognac solution ; the results tend to be less balanced, less complex and less integrated.

An important part of the maturation process is the amount of cognac that evaporates each year through the wood. The region’s climate and the humidity in the chais (cellar), itself dictate the differences ; a cask in a cooler, damper chais will result in a greater loss of alcohol whilst one in a warmer, drier chais would see a greater loss of volume. The evaporation concentrates the spirit by reducing it, imparting a creamy velvety, rich character. During the ageing process the spirit extracts and makes soluble the colour, lignins, vanillins, tannins and sugars from the barrel. The spirit then breaks them down whilst interacting with oxygen and gaining colour. Ultimately, the brandy mellows and its colour and character emerges.

High-strength spirit can potentially extract too much from a cask. In order to lessen the impact, the cellar master may reduce the brandy to approximately 56 % abv immediately after distillation. Alternatively, he may put the high strength alcohol into new oak for a very short period of time, as little as one to three months, and then transfer it to old oak effecting a reduction between the two and then allowing for a second, more gradual reduction, in the years running up to bottling.

Cognac regions

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Cognac is a distillate from a strictly controlled area in the Charente and Charente-Maritime départements of south-west France. Produced from white wine, which is double distilled in pot stills, to a strength not exceeding 72 % abv and aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years.

Terroir has a huge impact on cognac ; soils found nowhere else on earth, under a unique combination of micro and meso climates help explain why no other region can come close to producing a similar brandy. Vagaries of both the cool north and the warm south are frequently apparent, while the Atlantic exerts a maritime influence and the Massif Central ensures that the extremes of continental climes are felt too.

The Cognac Region

Based on the official decree of 1st May 1909, the region was divided into geographical crus :

Grande Champagne (17.8 %) Rich in Campanien chalk ; resulting in brandies of delicacy, elegance and finesse

Petite Champagne (20.7 %) Santonian chalk prevails here, which is earthier resulting in fruitier brandies, though still very elegant.

Borderies (5.4 %) High clay content with flint giving fatter, fuller-bodied brandies with dried fruit characteristics, very useful for blending.

Fins Bois (42 %) Chalk, sand and clay are all evident giving fuller brandies that are quicker to mature. The best vineyards offer floral, fragrant brandies with notes of sweet spice.

Bons Bois (12.6 %) and Bois Ordinaires/Bois

Communs (1.5 %) for blending.

Age Designations : VS/3 Star/Reserve, Minimum 2 years, VSOP Minimum 4 years, Napoleon/XO/Extra Minimum 6 years