Friday, June 14, 2013

A visit to Cognac producer Henri Mounier

Everyone in South Africa knows the big names: Hennessy, Martell, Remy Martin, Courvoisier, Bisquit etc.
but there is another in the top ten who doesn't get much product to our shores:
H.Mounier, who produce several top end Cognacs, including Prince Hubert de Polignac and Cognac Hardy
We were lucky enough to be given an introduction to the CEO Christophe Juarez, who invited us to pay him a visit

The very subtle entrance to the Mounier offices in a little street
We were welcomed and taken through the winery
 a forest of huge stainless steel tanks of wine
for brandy and Pineau
The cold stabilisation room - at -5°C
In the laboratory with the Master distiller (maître de chai), Mickaël Bouilly
New 500 litre oak casks being delivered
and plenty of older casks full of product
 in large warehouses
Mickaël Bouilly and the warehouse manager with Christophe Juarez
They also use large oak vats for Pineau
every cask is numbered and catalogued, insisted upon by the taxman
all this is in the modern facility outside the city
A black mould, similar to that in the cellars of Tokai can be found on the walls
We are used to seeing forests of steel tanks, but not these numbers of very large oak vats which are used for the Pineau
(30% brandy 70% sweet grape juice)
Our French is fairly rudimentary, Mickaël's English even more so,
but we followed his information, helped by Christophe's translation
Samples in the lab - the colour deepens with age
No added colouring is used
Sample bottles in the lab
Bottled Cognacs in the tasting room

  but, first, we went into PARADISE, which is what they call their Library Cellar
full of very old casks and demijohns
with examples of Cognacs going back to the mid nineteenth century
and very old barrels for reference

The best, but not the oldest, that we tasted from the barrel was the 1935
They were all in a league far beyond anything we had ever tasted before
The oldest in this tasting was the 1914, made by women - the men had gone off to war
Society changed, with hardship, but for the better
more ancient demijohns
Tasting the Prince Hubert de Polignac XO Extra
Then back to the lab for a last look
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