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Pierre Croizet XO Exception Cognac

Pierre Croizet XO
Exception Cognac


By Robert Plotkin

The unsurpassed quality of the House of Croizet (pronounced "kwah•say") is largely due to its fortuitous location. The Croizet vineyards consist of 30 hectares of prime real estate situated in the AOC terroir of Fins Bois. Formerly known as Champagne de Jarnac, the cru borders the Grande Champagne appellation, Cognac's premier cru. It's close proximity to Grande Champagne has profoundly impacted the quality of Croizet's eaux de vie.

The oak barrels in which Croizet ages its eaux de vie are chosen from the finest coopers of the region and made from wood taken from the famed forests of Tronçais or Limousin. The barrels are often 350 liters in capacity, which better facilitates the transfer of flavors between the aging spirits and oak staves. To protect the resting barrels from large temperature changes, the cellars of Maison Croizet still have their original beaten earth floors to maintain the optimal humidity.

Vivacious and somewhat exuberant, Pierre Croizet V.S. Cognac punches well above its weight class. The cognac is made using Ugni Blanc grapes, which are also known as Trebbiano, the oldest grape varietal in Italy. After the grape must has been fermented, it is distilled twice in the distillery's alembic still, the first pass distilled on the lees. When the young brandy exits the still, it is transferred to French oak barrels for about 3 years of aging.

The V.S. Cognac has a burnished amber appearance, a medium-weight, satiny textured body, and a generous nose of floral and fruit aromas. On the palate, the V.S. is brimming with the flavors of vanilla, orange zest, raisins and fruit. The fade is smooth as silk.

The parade of hits continues with Pierre Croizet V.S.O.P. Cognac, a skillfully crafted blend of eaux-de-vie matured for at least five years in French Limousin oak barrels. Everything about the Pierre Croizet V.S.O.P. is just a little bit more luxurious. It has a deeper amber color, a slightly heftier body and a sensational fruit and floral set of aromas. The longer you let this cognac breathe in the glass, more of its glorious aromas come forth. On the palate there's an appreciable amount of delectable wood-induced flavors—caramel, vanilla, cinnamon and toffee. The long finish features the added flavors of dried fruit, anise and roasted nuts.

Those with a bit more cash in their wallet will want to invest in Pierre Croizet XO Cognac. It's aged in French oak for no less than 6 years; the additional year in wood yields big dividends. The XO has a reddish/dark amber appearance, a lush, medium-weight body and a bouquet saturated with the enticing aromas of vanilla beans, raisins, warm caramel and red table grapes. Its long lasting aromatic signature is well worth the price of admission. Its entry raises little to no heat as it bathes the palate with waves of fresh fruit, light spices, raisins and vanilla. The fade is extremely long and flavorful. An absolitely sensational Cognac.

The elder statesman of the prestigious range is the complex and utterly sophisticated Pierre Croizet XO Exception Cognac. It is aged for no less than 10 years, much longer than the minimum XO requirement. The dark amber Cognac drinks like a dream, a very pleasant dream. The nose is an amazingly complex array of aromas—plums, flora, saffron, nutmeg and cinnamon with a touch of tanned leather and pipe tobacco. The palate is a layered offering of fruit and baking spices. The finish is long and elegant.

I'm fairly certain I haven't done anything in my life to merit receiving a bottle of the Croizet XO, and certainly not the XO Exception. If I'm honest with myself, I likely don't desire a bottle of the Croizet V.S.O.P. either. I think I better start being a better person if I someday want a bottle of Croizet V.S.

Yeah, they're that good.