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First Cognac matured in steam-toasted barrels hits the market

Par Vitisphere Le 30 juin 2021
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First Cognac matured in steam-toasted barrels hits the market
Providing proof that there is still room for innovation in the Cognac appellation area, Jérôme Durand claims, “Our role is to innovate, that's why we’re here?. - crédit photo : Cognacs Larsen
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qua Ignis, the new Larsen Cognac label, is literally getting some steam up. According to the company’s managing director Jérôme Durand, it is the “first spirit in the world to be matured in steam-toasted barrels”. The Charentes company, a subsidiary of Finnish distributor Altia, has developed its own toasting technique after four years of research. The technique has been patented and is used exclusively for its AOC Cognac range. “The initial idea was to create a very clear and compelling Cognac, both for fruit expression – a Larsen hallmark – and the wood with its vanilla aromas”, says David Croizet, the brand’s master blender.

To maximise extraction of vanillin during the maturation of its brandies, a cooperage specialist (whose identity has not been revealed) developed a toasting process that is both gentle and long for 250-litre fine-grained barrels from Allier forests. To prevent the wood from catching fire, the 225-litre casks were immersed in hot water for ten minutes before being placed on a brazier for forty minutes. The process is repeated three times and is “low-temperature charring”, sums up Croizet, who feels the results are fully satisfactory. Fruit extraction is maximised whilst tannins are kept to a minimum, due to the fact that lengthy toasting breaks down the tannins and turns them into sugar.

As this is not a finish but a full-fledged maturation technique, ageing in the steam-toasted casks comes at the second stage of ageing, once the brandies have been blended. The aim is to turn up the fruit volume on the brandies, further enhanced by a final alcohol content of 42.3%. “We highlight the components already present in the Cognac”, says Croizet, who is aiming for “something obvious, as opposed to a finish that can be subtle”.

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