Lheraud Grande Champagne 1976 (Cognac)

Here is the last of my reviews of Lheraud cognacs from the 1970s. The tally between the excellent and the merely very good currently sits at 2:2. I really liked the Fins Bois and the Bons Bois but was not as enthused by the Petite Champagne or the Borderies. Which way will this Grande Champagne take the score? On the one hand, Grande Champagne is said to be the top cru of cognac. On the other hand, even at 25-26 years of age I think this is the youngest of the five bottles and my understanding is that the fruity notes that I prize arise more predictably in cognac with even greater age. That said, the Bons Bois was younger than both the Petite Champagne and the Borderies. And speaking of qualities I prize, please don’t forget that all my brandy reviews are from the perspective of a single malt whisky drinker and particularly a single malt drinker who loves notes of tropical fruit. Other subtleties that may appeal to cognac aficionados may be either lost or wasted on me. With that caveat registered let’s get to it.

Lheraud Grande Champagne 1976-2002 (48%; Cognac; from a bottle split)

Nose: Oh yes, rich, dark notes of apricot, orange peel and papaya; a bit of oak too, behind the fruit on the second sniff. After a minute or so there’s more acid—like tart-sweet mango. Will the fruit carry through into the palate? Gets stickier as it goes (apricot jam) and there’s some pipe tobacco too now. A few drops of water—added after about an hour—brighten it up and bring out more of the oak.

Palate: Leads with the oak but yes, there’s the fruit and if anything it’s richer. The texture is just a bit thin but that’s a very mild complaint. Not much change as it sits but I’m not complaining. With more time the oak transitions to bitter cocoa and it’s in good balance with the fruit. Okay, let’s see what water does. It makes the palate brighter and oakier too.

Finish: Long. The fruit keeps expanding, with the mango coming through more clearly and bringing some fig jam with it. As on the nose and palate with water. Bitter notes (coffee grounds) now makes the last impression.

Comments: Well, this is very reminiscent of the Fins Bois. And I guess past a certain point there’s no necessary relationship between age and tropical fruit in cognac—this is more than a decade younger. Like that one this checks a lot of my old Longmorn/Glen Grant boxes.

Rating: 90 points.

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