First up is Cognac Audry, imported into Singapore by Wine Selection (contact details can be found at the bottom of this post) - pricing indicated is retail from Wine Selection, for a 70cl bottle, correct at time of writing.
40% abv | SGD$ 150
On the nose, sweet vanilla, wood varnish/lacquer and toffee apple, with honey too - smells fragrant, its on the sweeter side of things, wonderful volatiles too. Palate is mouthfilling with sweet notes of vanilla and dried fruits (apricots and peaches come to mind); smooth throughout the palate, nothing out of joint. Its rather lively for an XO, it has bags of flavour and character, which is more than you can say for your average insert-brand-name-here XO cognac. What is most unexpected to me is the length and persistence on the finish, we're talking minutes here - obvious high quality.
Audry Reserve Speciale
40% abv | SGD$ 172
Similar to the XO in the nose, except perhaps it has a tad more oakiness / wood varnish notes coming through; deeper notes of caramel, burnt sugar and mocha, just feels a bit heavier on the nose. Palate is similarly profiled, less fruity and tending instead to burnt sugar and sweet oak. Mouthfeel is wider and more generous than the XO, perhaps less exuberant but more width and heft. Long finish too.
42% | SGD$ 255
Lots more interesting volatile notes here, with wood polish and lacquer showing, along with vanilla and all kinds of spicy notes; quite heady aromas here - the intriguing kind that beckons you in for another sniff. Spicy notes come through on the palate along with a caramel sweetness; mouthfeel is settled but with a more pronounced grip. Long and very classy.
43% | SGD$ 407
Prominent spice of wood polish/lacquer, sweet vanilla on the nose, along with roasted / toasted hazelnuts - its quite obvious that this Cognac has spent a rather long time in wood; if you try hard enough, maybe some dried fruits too but definitely in the dried figs/plum range than the earlier peaches/apricots. Audry's own tasting notes indicate 'hints of rancio' which I am very much in agreement, adds a another dimension to the aroma profile. Spicy with a decent grip (note the slightly higher abv) with some wood tannins showing. Such poise and panache on the palate, generous and rich with caramel and spice coming through; persistently lingering (and surprisingly fruity) finish, just goes on and on and on. Exceptional, worthy of its name.
A word on the house itself - admittedly, I'd never heard of Cognac Audry prior to this, but a quick google search seems to suggest that among the Cognac world, they are generally held in high regard. Based on the four Cognacs I tasted, it is a reputation well-deserved. Both the XO and Reserve Speciale are blended from spirit between 18-22 years old, the Memorial and Exception between 40-50 years old which is simply staggering. Its certainly a far cry from the financially-driven big name brand Cognacs commonly found in the market. 'Proper' and 'aristocratic' are two words I'd use to describe Audry, which granted is a rather strange descriptor for a beverage, but it conveys a certain sense of presence these Cognacs have.
Make no mistake, these are serious Cognacs and from the retail prices I've been given, rather excellent value for money too. These past weeks has seen the release of the 2013 Bordeaux en-primeur prices, an annual spectacle sure to arouse strong opinions from wine professionals - lets put it this way, per bottle, the Audry Exception costs less than most First Growth Bordeaux (and unlike its Bordelais friends, the Audrys are ready to enjoy now). That said, personally for me, the XO is the one that I'd spend my money on. Dont all rush in at once ...
Sales Manager: Ghislain Moret (sales[at]wine-selection.com)
Tel: +65 83323069
Citimac Building, 605A MacPherson Road #08-03G, Singapore 368240
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/wineselectionsingapore
For the record, Wine Selection also has an interesting selection of what seems like exclusively French wines, with particular emphasis on the stalwarts of Bordeaux, Burgundy and Rhone. Their selection of Bordeaux below the SGD$50 mark focuses on lesser known, smaller producers are certainly worth a punt.