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Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac

Pierre Ferrand
Ambre Cognac


By Robert Plotkin

Cognac is undoubtedly the epitome of elegance and luxury. However, it's extraordinarily uncommon to find an elegant and luxurious cognac that's also affordable. The roster of qualified candidates is quite short and perched firmly at the top of the list is Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac, a captivating handcrafted cognac priced at a value-laden $45. It's like the stars aligned to present us with the rare opportunity of bringing home a world-class spirit without needing to empty our checking account to do so.

Part of what makes this cognac such an amazing deal is the cachet rightfully accorded the venerable house of Pierre Ferrand. Situated in the heart of the esteemed Grande Champagne district, it is one of a small handful of firms that do not blend its Grande Champagne cognacs with those from lesser appellations. In their vineyards they cultivate Ugni Blanc and Colombard grapes. After harvesting, the grapes are immediately pressed and allowed to ferment naturally. The wines are left unfiltered and distilled on the lees, meaning that some of the skins and stems go into the still as well to produce more depth of flavor.

Pierre Ferrand employs several small copper pot stills—each with only a 25-hectoliter capacity—to produce their eaux de vie, a finest portion of which is transferred into 270-liter Limousin oak barrels. The estate's seven aging cellars have traditional dirt floors to maintain the proper degree of humidity. After the cognac has been deemed fully matured, it is blended into its final expression and gradually reduced to proof with water that has been aged for up to six months in old, previously used barrels.

With a tasting profile of 10 years, Ambre is the youngest expression in the Pierre Ferrand range. It has a golden hue with amber highlights, a medium-weight, velvety textured body and an alluring bouquet imbued with raisins, citrus, caramel, roses and some oaky notes. The cognac is delicate, superbly balanced and slowly bathes the palate with the flavors of citrus, figs, spice and vanilla. Its finish lingers like a pleasant thought. Ambre would be a steal even at twice the price.

Where once using a cognac like this in a Sidecar or French 125 was considered sacrilege, it's now viewed as an evolutionary imperative, the irrepressible drive to improve ones lot. The prevailing wisdom is that the better the spirit, the better the cocktail. Pierre Ferrand Ambre is an ideal choice when an ordinary cocktail won't do. Although, like basic black with pearls, enjoying a cognac in a snifter after dinner is always appropriate.

The award-winning Pierre Ferrand Reserve has a 20-year tasting profile. The complex, full-bodied cognac has a deep golden hue, a generous oak and fresh fruit bouquet and is lavishly endowed with spicy, nutty flavors. It's a lovely, delicate cognac, beautiful in structure and brimming with finesse.
For those looking to celebrate life there's Pierre Ferrand Selection des Anges, a magnificent spirit appropriately named after the "Angel's Share," the cognac that's lost during aging through evaporation. With a tasting profile in the 30-year range, Selection des Anges has a voluptuous body, a wafting fruit and oaky bouquet and a long delectable finish. It is an unqualified masterpiece.

Pierre Ferrand's range of cognacs is a work of art in itself. In addition to what has been mentioned, it includes Reserve des Dieux (25-year tasting profile), Abel (40 years), Ancestrale (70 years) and the Collection Privee, a series of limited edition releases — vintages 1914,1970,1971,1972 and 1973.