Showing posts with label PM Spirits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PM Spirits. Show all posts

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Ron Navazos Palazzi: Sherried Rum

Earlier this year, I enjoyed Navazos Palazzi Brandy, a sherry aged brandy that was a joint project between spirits importer Nicolas Palazzi and sherry bottler Equipo Navazos.  Nicolas Palazzi recently sent me a new Navazos Palazzi rum finished in sherry casks.

This rum was distilled in the Caribbean from molasses on a column still.  It was aged at the distillery for five years and then shipped to Spain, transferred to Oloroso sherry casks and aged for an additional ten years. It was bottled in July at cask strength. They are planning on releasing 1,500 bottles per year for the next four years. 

Ron Navazos Palazzi, 51% abv ($150)

The nose on this is a deep sherry with just a hint of brown sugar at the end.  The palate begins with a thick sherry with fruit; it goes on to reveal the sweetness of the rum which creates a candy-fruity melange like candied, dried fruit.  The finish is back to a pure sherry.

At first taste, this is very similar to a Spanish brandy, but beyond the sherry notes in the late palate, you can pick up the molasses.  I'm not generally much of a rum drinker, but this is excellent stuff.  The rum and sherry combination is really gives this a rounded, full flavor. I bet it would be great on the rocks as well.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Navazos Palazzi: Sherried Brandy from Jerez

Today we move over to Spain with a Spanish brandy from the Alvisa Distillery in La Mancha made from airen grapes. This was sourced by brandy importer/bottler Nicolas Palazzi and aged for six and a half years. For the last four and one half years, it was aged in a very old Oloroso sherry cask from Equipo Navazos, one of the most well regarded sherry bottlers in Jerez. It's bottled without coloring or additives.

There are only 720 half bottles from this cask. As the back label states, its goal is an authenticity that is currently difficult to find in Spanish brandies.

Navazos Palazzi, Single Oloroso Cask, Brandy de Jerez, Bottled March 2012, PM Spirits, 375 ml, 44.2% abv ($80)

The nose on this is pure, dry sherry with tons of dried fruit notes and some wood. The palate continues along the same lines with a dry wine feel, with some sweeter grape juice notes in the back. The finish has prunes and dried apricots.

This is fun stuff, and the strong sherry notes should appeal to lovers of sherried Scotch. At $80 per half bottle, it's not cheap, but it's extremely drinkable. Most of the brandies we've sampled in this series have been fairly old, but this bottle shows that brandy can do well at a younger age as well.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Domaine D'Esperance

To wrap up our week of Armagnac, we'll be tasting a 1998 brandy. Brandy importer/bottler Nicolas Palazzi was kind enough to send me a sample of his Domaine D'Esperance single barrel 1998 Armagnac. Domaine D'Espearance is a very small grower (10 hectares) in the Bas-Armagnac region. Palazzi imports a number of expressions, including a five year old and a ten year old, as well as a number of single casks. They contain no coloring or additives.

The 1998 vintage is made from 100% baco grapes and aged in Gascony oak casks (which tend to have a high tannin content).

Domaine D'Esperance 1998, 14 years old, Barrel 69, 49% abv ($90)

This one smells like bourbon. In fact, if I were nosing it blind, I would likely mistake it for a high rye bourbon and a very good one at that It's got lots of oak, spice and even some of that corn sweetness. The palate reveals its true nature, a dry, spicy brandy with cloves and then pepper. The finish lingers nicely, emphasizing the spice and, for the first time, the underlying wine, and the notes blend together like a mulled wine.

Dry and complex, this Armagnac might be challenging for some who need some sweetness, but I thought it was delightful. If you're ready for the next level, check it out. Right now it's only available in the east, but I'm told there are a few bottles that should be headed into California.

Next week I'll move out of Armagnac to try some Cognac and a Spanish brandy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jazz Age Brandy: Nicolas Palazzi's Cognac Tasting

On Monday night I attended a stunning Cognac tasting hosted by K&L at the La Descarga rum bar, featuring Cognac bottler Nicolas Palazzi. As you may recall, Palazzi is a Cognac bottler who seeks out small growers and bottles cask strength, unfiltered Cognacs with no additives. He is truly a pioneer in the Cognac world who is trying single handedly to move it away from the sticky, sweet brandies that most of us associate with Cognac.

We started the night with a sazerac cocktail made from Paul Beau VSOP Cognac (while the sazerac now usually features rye, the original recipe used Cognac). I'm a big fan of sazeracs so no complaints here, but in a tasting I would usually save a cocktail until later, especially one which includes Absinthe, which can deaden the taste buds.

To demonstrate the difference made by filtration, we moved on to a Paul Beau Hors D’Age, which is distilled "off the lees," meaning it is filtered to remove residual dead yeast. We tasted this side by side with a Guillon Painturaud Hors d’Age which is distilled "on the lees" or unfiltered. Lees contact is said to add richness, body, and flavor to the spirit. I did find that the unfiltered Cognac had more going on flavor wise, including a spicy character, but the filtered Cognac was more delicate and subtle.

We ended with a trio of Nicolas' cask strength, single barrel Cognacs under his Paul Marie & Fils label, beginning with the recent K&L exclusive which I reviewed here. We then moved on to his 58 year old Devant La Porte (51% abv) and finally, the L'Artisan, which was distilled in 1923 (41.6% abv). These three were utterly fantastic Cognacs.

One advantage that Cognac has over whiskey is that there seem to be more really old barrels out there. The 1923 was moved out of barrel last year, so this was in wood for 87 years (the oldest whiskey that has been released is 70 years old). Remarkably for having spent a human lifetime in wood, the Cognac was incredibly fruity with very distinct grape notes. In fact, the dominance of the fruit was such that it came off as lacking in complexity, but it was not over oaked.

My favorite of the night was the 58 year old. Distilled in 1951, the Devant La Porte was released last year and goes for around $600. It was fruity but had some wood and complex, caramel notes; it was probably the most whiskey-like of the Cognacs.

The problem with many spirits tastings is that they cover only widely available, basic spirits lines. It is difficult to find tastings featuring very rare spirits. For the $70 cost of this tasting, we got a chance to try some truly rare and remarkable Cognacs. Nicolas Palazzi and K&L Spirit Buyer David Girard really pulled out all the stops. Let's hope we see more of these types of tastings in LA.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Brandy Friday: Nicolas Palazzi's Cognac Mission

I've done a number of Brandy Friday posts over the years, but I haven't stuck to brandy the way I have to whiskey. Part of the problem is the state of Cognac, the premiere brandy. Too much of the Cognac from the big houses is syrupy sweet, and even the best Cognacs have a certain simplicity to them. Added caramel is a given with most Cognac, added sugar is common and very few are released above 40% abv. After my first series of Cognac tastings on the blog, I opined that Cognac was behind the curve compared to whiskey with regard to additives and abv.

But Nicolas Palazzi aims to change all of that. Palazzi is a brandy importer and independent bottler. Born into a wine making family and raised in Bordeaux, he operates PM Spirits in New York, making regular trips back to France to hunt for Cognacs from small producers which he bottles under his Paul-Marie & Fils label. Through buying his own casks, Palazzi is able to release them the way he wants to: single barrel, cask strength and unfiltered. And he doesn't use added sugar, caramel or wood additives (boise) which are common in Cognac production; says Palazzi, "I despise those things."

Suddenly, Cognac is catching up to where whiskey has been for years. Palazzi's first special release for K&L Wines, one of the retailers he works with regularly, was a 58 year old vintage 1951 Cognac that weighed in at $600. Impressive sounding, but at a price that most of us can't afford. Luckily, there were more reasonably priced options to come. Palazzi's latest Cognac for K&L is $130, still expensive, but not outrageous.

There are 200 bottles of this new K&L exclusive. It comes from from the Borderies zone of Cognac, and while there is no age statement, K&L says that it is an XO (XO indicates at least six years old - but I'd guess this is significantly older).

Paul-Marie & Fils Cognac, Faultline Spirits (K&L Wine), 200 bottles, 61% abv ($130 exclusively at K&L)

The nose on this is bursting with fruit, but not just traditional grape/wine notes; there are apples and pears as well and some nice spice in the background. The palate is even more lush with mulling spices, cloves, even some sweet orange, all painted on a canvass of bourbony oak with some pine and fir to boot. Gone is the syrupy sweetness that many Cognacs push to the fore. Instead, there are complex notes of spice and herb. This is a whiskey lover's Cognac if ever there was one, and while it's cask strength, it goes down very easy. A drop of water, as is often the case, brings out the sugar, but makes it lose some of the balance. Drink it neat! The finish is well balanced with sweet wine and oak and then a slight vegetal note, maybe tobacco.

This is a pretty extraordinary Cognac and if you like whiskey, and bourbon in particular, you should give it a try.

I had largely given up on Cognac as anything other than a pleasant but simplistic night cap. Now my interest is piqued. Cognac may finally be getting it.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Brandy Friday: Paul-Marie Fils 25 Year Pineau de Charentes

Pineau de Charentes is not a common drink in the US. It is a French fortified wine made from blending brandy (usually unaged) and fermented grape must, which is juice made from the the seeds, skins and stems of the grape.

Paul-Marie Fils Pineau de Charentes is unusual in that instead of being made with unaged eau de vie, it is made with Cognac and then further aged. According to David Driscoll's excellent K&L spirits blog, "It was made from Cognac distilled in 1984 and then white wine from 1985 and put into a barrel for 25 years!" A twenty-five year old dessert wine is unusual indeed.

Paul-Marie Fils 25 Year Pineau de Charentes, 17.5% abv, ($80 at K&L).

This stuff has a very nice aroma. The first thing I get on the nose is Cognac, a sweet one with raisins and other dried fruit, then behind it some of the dessert wine notes that give it a fresh and sweet scent. The flavor opens very sweet, but it's much more complex than most fortified wines I've had, with some of that aged Coganc flavor integrated into the sweet wine. I taste plums and other stone fruit along with the sweet wine flavors and some nice Christmas-type spice. The late palate to finish is very port-like.

This is much sweeter than what I usually drink, but it's quite a pleasant dessert wine with some real depth. I tried it both neat and chilled, but much preferred it chilled, which muted a bit of the sweetness.

If you are a dessert or fortified wine fan, you should definitely check this stuff out.