Here is only my second Cognac review and it is also my second review of a Cognac from the small house of Vallein Tercinier. I tasted a sample of their Lot 70 and loved it, bought some for myself and recommended it to friends. This one—also bottled for/by Flask in California—is quite a bit younger though not young per se. It’s a Lot 90, distilled in 1990 and bottled in 2018, making it 27 or 28 years old. The Lot 70 was 47-48 years old and barely bore any trace of long maturation in oak. Though as I write that I seem to remember reading that it is not unusual for older Cognacs to have been stored in glass for years before being bottled—meaning that the presence of a vintage but not a specific age statement may be meaningful. So while this was distilled 20 years later for sure, it’s not as clear how much less time it may have spent in an oak cask. If you can shed light on how this works, either for this house or the category in general, please write in below. In the meantime here are my formal thoughts on this bottle which I opened about a month ago and found to be quite a bit oakier than the Lot 70 which was just a tropical fruity delight. I’m curious to see what a bit more air in the bottle may have done for this.
Vallein Tercinier, Lot 90 (48.7%; bottled for Flask; from my own bottle)
Nose: Rich honey with a big seam of apricot jam and marmalade. Behind the sticky stuff is an oaky backbone—slightly spicy, slightly perfumed. Not much change with time. With water it’s a little creamier.
Palate: Thinner here to start—both texturally and in terms of flavour. The oak is too the fore; still not tannic but out of balance. With more time some more of the fruit from the nose shows up but it’s still on the thin side. With more time there’s more depth but also more oak. A drop of water improves the texture and brings out more fruit and also some piney, herbal notes.
Finish: Medium. As on the palate with the oak getting a bit bitter as it goes. Definitely more fruit here with time. As on the palate with water as well with a strong aniseed note late.
Comments: While this is not as oaky as it was when first opened—especially on the nose—it’s not quite in the class of the Lot 70. Very drinkable in its own right but if I’d had this one as an introduction to older cognacs I doubt I would have shelled out for the more expensive Lot 70. Then again this may speak to my own non-brandy preferences: I’d say that while the Lot 70 is a malt-drinker’s brandy, this one is further towards the bourbon end of the spectrum.
Rating: 87 points.