By: David Othenin-Girard
K&L Staff Member
The excellent Domaine de Pouchegu has held a special place in our hearts since we first found it years ago. After tasting through Gascogne's great estates, arriving at the extremely well kempt estate not far from Montreal-de-Gers was a strange experience. For years we'd heard nearly every small producer insist that the character of their spirit would be ruined if they'd ever dare to leave them in new oak for more than a few months. This technique of "successive" aging is very typical in the brandy world. It avoids excessive tannin and stretches the purchase of a new barrel across several barrels worth of spirit. The spirit absorbs a significant amount of wood in the first 6 to 12 months in a new barrel. Some producers don't bother to use ANY new oak and the concentration comes purely from evaporation. But Pierre Laporte was one of the first small producers we'd met who insisted on full term maturation in new local oak. Only the big estates like Boingneres and Pellehaut seemed to be able to afford to buy significant amounts of oak and even they didn't leave ALL their eau-de-vie in new oak for decades. And we'd assumed that the hard edge French oak tannins would create intense bitterness in Pierre's brandy, but he explained that wood selection and proper seasoning could avoid the harsh tannin and insisted that the results, while not narrowly elegant as some more traditional producers, offered a superior experience. Boy, did M. Laporte know his shit. There is almost nothing like this insane brandy on the market today. Only the extremely hard to get Lous Pibous has achieved this kind of intensity and complexity and those were created almost by accident. Expect an absolutely over the top nose, which you can detect from across the room. Tons of deep exotic wood - mahogany, sandalwood, spruce, birch, oak...all the woods. A bucket of wild dark spices, premium Italian leather, almost oloroso levels of dense raisinated fruit, fresh mint, sugar mixed in brown butter. The perfect balance of savory and sweet. The palate continues the fireworks. A very sweet entry with an elegance that is not altogether expected. The sweet rancio fruit and crazy roasted nuts are the star and the tannin is almost unperceivable until the finish where the dense spice and wood begin to take over. Ultimately it remains very balanced, but is one of the most full flavored spirits I've ever tasted. We're always looking for brandy that's going to appeal to the Bourbon drinker, but honestly I don't think there's a single lover of brown spirits that couldn't find a way to love this special spirit. We're extremely sad to have lost this great producer, but at least we have his wonderful brandies to remember him by.