The Best of French Brandy For Bastille Day

On July 14th, 1789, revolutionary forces stormed the Bastille prison in an attempt to capture weapons and ammunition. These days, it is a day of national celebration in France and is marked by the oldest and largest military parade in Europe. Pick up some of these bottles, and enjoy!
Jul 06, 2016
  • 10
    10 Augier L'Océanique Cognac
    94
    Fruity & Rich
    Non age statement Augier Cognacs featuring a single growth and single grape have been introduced as a reboot from this estate, which has been producing eaux-de-vie since 1643. L'Océanique has the distinction of comprising a distillate made from grapes grown near the Atlantic Ocean on the Island of Oléron, which is technically in the Bois Ordinaires growing region of Cognac. A rare and truly coastal expression that benefits from maritime influences, it features only ugni blanc. It spends some time on fine lees and is distilled once before aging in French oak.
  • 9
    9 Christian Drouin VSOP Calvados
    94
    Sweet & Rich
    Christian Drouin, père, began distilling Calvados in 1960 after purchasing a farmhouse and surrounding orchards, only to find little demand for his apples. Luckily a family friend with his portable still came to the rescue. The mobile stills built in 1947 are still in use at the Drouin estate, where they found their permanent home. The VSOP bottling is a blend of eaux-de-vie that have aged between five and twelve years.
  • 8
    8 F. Meyer Kirsch Eau-de-Vie
    94
    Fruity
    Meyer's Kirsch is produced from Alsatian cherries. The F. Meyer distillery was established in the Alsace region of France in 1958, and produces a variety of eau de vie. Double-distilled in copper pot stills it is then rested in steel tanks for two to five years before bottling.
  • 7
    7 Delord Armagnac 25 Year
    95
    Fruity & Woody
    Owned and operated by three generations of the Delord family, the House of Delord has been making armagnac since the 1890s when the patriarch of the family purchased a vineyard in Lannepax in Bas-Armagnac. Delord grows all four of the major armagnac varietals (ugni blanc, colombard, Baco blanc, and folle-blanche) without pesticides or fertilizers. They distill their eaux-de-vie on-site either in traditional continuous stills or in a double-distillation process. The new-make spirit of the former goes into older bottlings, whereas the double distilled new-make typically goes into younger bottlings. This armagnac is aged at least twenty-five years. Bottled at 40% ABV.
  • 6
    6 Château de Ravignan Bas-Armagnac 1985
    95
    Rancio & Nutty
    Chateau de Ravignan is a historic castle in the Bas-Armagnac region of Armagnac. Grapes have been planted since 1732, and the vineyards surround a church from the 16th century. This land feels out of time, and the brandies produced here have the same noble heritage of Louis the 4th. Because of the estates long run, the armagnacs are never rushed to the market, rather they enjoy a long slumber in the cool, damp cellar. This creates the perfect atmosphere for a natural, gradual reduction in alcohol over the almost three decades they spend in barrel. This is truly a craft affair with under 4,000 bottles made a year.
  • 5
    5 Lhéraud Cuvée 20 Cognac
    96
    Spicy & Roast
    The Lhéraud family has been farming grapes and distilling cognac since 1802, but it wasn't until current patriarch Guy Lhéraud took over in 1970 that the domaine began to bottle and sell their own produce rather than selling it to négociants (the merchant-bottlers who blend and bottle and sell most cognac in the market) The 20-year age designation on this bottle does not refer to the minimum age of its contents, but rather to their exact age when they were bottled.
  • 4
    4 Bache-Gabrielsen Sérénité Extra Grande Champagne Cognac
    97
    Fruity & Sweet
    Bache-Gabrielsen is a family-owned cognac estate that was founded in 1905 in the Grande Champagne region. They are known for their rustic facade, but state of the art production facility within. Sérénité is a blend of eaux-de-vie that contains 85% ugni blanc and 15% of the increasingly rare folle blanche varietals. The average age of the distillates, all aged in Limousin casks, is 30 years, however some as old as 50 years are contained in the final blend.
  • 3
    3 Domaine d'Aurensan Armagnac 20 Ans
    97
    Rancio & Nutty
    In prominent display on the label reads: "Triple Zero." What does that mean? Here, it means no reduction (addition of water), no added sugar, and no addition of colorants. All of these practices are common, if not encouraged, in commercially-released blends, but this is not a commercial blend. Four casks (1973, 1978, 1981, and 1990) were married for their respective qualities. These barrels were not topped up and thus the resulting blend has quite a bit of armagnac aged much over the 20 years that the label implies. The attention to detail does not stop here. The barrels used are from the estate's local forests making these a true expression of the Gascony terroir.
  • 2
    2 Cognac Dudognon Vieille Réserve
    97
    Sweet & Nutty
    Maison Dudognon enjoys a long history in Cognac's grand cru: Grande Champagne. From their history as grower/negociants from 1776 to the modern era post 1970 where they no longer sell to cognac's big houses, the quality of their vineyards and brandies have been held to the highest regard. One could cite their old vines of ugni blanc, their minuscule alembic stills, or even their painstaking French barrel selection -- whatever the cause, the cognacs speak of remarkable purity and sense of place. The "Vieille Reserve" is a blend of barrels that averages 20 years of age -- this is just enough time for the grapes from the chalky vineyards to shed their tough, mineral youth and show the latent fruit and nutty cognac flavors held beneath.
  • 1
    1 Calvados Adrien Camut 18 Year
    97
    Rich & Fruity
    This is the calling card of the fantastic Camut estate located in the Calvados "Grand Cru" Pays d'Auge. Here, a complex system of two pot stills creates a very fine distillate that will be aged for almost two decades in the Norman countryside. The secret of Camut's incredible lush and rich spirits is that only 2/3-3/4 of the barrel is filled leaving lots of room for oxygen to interact with the aging brandy. The interchange causes the alcohol to evaporate and concentrates the natural apple flavor making for brandies with incredible texture, length, and richness.