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Dudognon "Tres Rare" K&L Exclusive Single Barrel Montils Cask Strength Grand Champagne Cognac (750ml) SKU #1493285

Price: $149.99

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Tasting Notes

A bottling unique beyond even our own experience in this venerate region. This barrel from one of the region's very best producers, distilled in 1999 from the nearly extinct Montils varietal (not ugni as listed on the back label). It seems only one or two barrel were produced that year. We'd used much of the stock to juice up the extremely popular and delicious K&L Exclusive Napoleon & Napoleon II some years ago. When we arrived at the domaine in the spring of 2019, we tasted this component to our popular blend direct from cask. The brandy was sublime beyond belief. It's extremely rare that we locate a true single barrel of cognac. The reasons for that lie in the intricacies of production. The cateogry just doesn't really exist in the region. When we do find a quality single cask, the cost is often prohibitive. We've always believed there might be a true single cask of exceptional quality hidden at Dudognon and now we've found it. The family owned domaine makes cognac the way their grandparents did, without additives. Others might claim it, but dudognon lives it. Absolutely NOTHING was added before bottling here. Distilled by hand in wood burning stills and aged in new french limousin oak. Few cognacs on the market today can offer the unique depth and arresting complexity of this unprecedented bottling. Only 288 bottles exist and should be reserved for those wanting more than the typical sweet big house style. We're honored to be the sole source for this very special brandy.

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Staff Reviews

  • Andrew Whiteley
    By: Andrew Whiteley
    8/29/2020
    K&L Staff Member
    Truly a divine bottling. David's eloquent description really covers it all. I was so fortunate to be on my first trip to Cognac and visit to Dudognon, long one of my favorite houses, when we discovered this gem. It's rarity is unmatched in the region — nothing like it exists, full stop. The rarity of the Montils varietal — especially in Grande Champagne begins that story. The unblended nature of the barrel is an anomaly. The age is remarkable given how great this brandy is as a blending component you'd expect it to have been used up long ago. We began a post dinner tasting with the intention of creating another K&L Napoleon blend. After an earnest effort it was truly impossible to not come back to this bottling over and over again. Eventually, sheepishly, we asked if it were possible to bottle the cask this was pulled from on its own. To our astonishment, the answer was yes. Voila. It's that simple — one of the rarest varieties, grown on the finest estate, in the regions most prestigious appellation, turns out the greatest Cognac we've ever bottled. The nose is a dead give away to the quality to follow. Nothing is quite so rich without the added sweetness so prevalent in 99% of the regions brandy. The fat, almost succulent ripeness is contradicted by the bone dry palate. The intervening flavors run the gamut from toasted sugar and bitter orange peel to ripe apricot, peach, nectarine and a full array of stone fruit. Baked bread, tropical spices, wild herbs round everything out. The proof, much higher than a more traditional Cognac, provides a backbone unlike anything available. It's a touch hot compared to the very top blends from the big houses, but the purity of flavors is unmatched and that extra proof melts into the background. It is an amazing example of the heights brandy can achieve — all the more stunning because that is in comparison to the greatest region on the planet in the world of brandy.
  • David Othenin-Girard
    By: David Othenin-Girard
    8/27/2020
    K&L Staff Member
    We've spent the last decade trying to ferret out barrels from the great cellars of cognac. These old chais are home to some absolutely treasures, but the dream of finding amazing single barrel cognac is just that, a dream. The style doesn't truly exist in the region in the same way that we'd be able to pick out a barrel of whisky. Partly that has to do with how it's aged, rarely are single barrels left to age statically and often blending begins very young. Many of the products that are sold as "single barrel" cognac, are in fact blended many times before the barrel is bottled and while the contents the run did indeed come from one single barrel, that brandy is not as unique as the single moniker would imply. There maybe 5 or 10 barrels with the exact same liquid in the barrels surrounding it. In addition, cognac seems to need this process of blending to achieve the complexity that we'd expect from the venerated category or the unwanted dosage that's also become ubiquitous. Done properly the use of additives is NOT necessarily a bad thing in cognac. It's often the additives themselves, cultivated from ultra-old cognacs that have fallen under proof, that give a house it's style and often add significantly to the quality. Done on an industrial scale, it's less romantic. But part of the dream of selecting a single cask, is the honesty created by bottling without further processing. Which means that a house giving us a single cask, won't really have the character of the house in the bottling because that's so reliant on what they do during blending to achieve. So we've been less able to bottle single barrel cognac as we would Armagnac over the years and have instead focused on bringing unique expressions from various houses as exclusives rather than focusing on trying to bottle an entire cask as we do in Scotland. But every once in a while, we uncover something truly stunning. It is only fitting that we did so this year at Dudognon. The only cognac house I can guarantee doesn't use any additives. They once said frankly, "we don't use them because we don't know how. Not that we would need them." It's the most honest answer about additives I've ever heard. But for those who don't know why Dudognon is special a quick review. This tiny family owned domaine in the heart of the best terroir in Grand Champagne is run by a husband and wife team. They do everything themselves, with some help from their son during harvest. They simply follow the same steps as their parents and grandparents before them and put one of the most honest and authentic products into the bottle in any category. We sat over dinner in their tiny distillery when the cask sample of this old Montils was presented. It's an eau-de-vie we know well, having used it in our blends with them previously, but I hadn't tasted it raw in many years. What I found was profound. I couldn't believe we'd been using this to create a blend, it was so perfect and singular I knew we had to bottle. And we'd considered leaving it in barrel for longer and while we might have achieved some for complexity 10 or 20 years down the road, I feared we'd have lost the absolutely unique character that this rare varietal imparts. It is the first true single cask cognac we've ever bottled I believe and it's easily my favorite K&L exclusive today. 21 years old and bottled at a barrel strength 47%, let's have a taste. The color is a gorgeous auburn. The nose is pungent with complexity well beyond its age. IN terms of Grande Champagne, this is just at the beginning of where ugni and colombard might start to show true maturity, but the Montils is a different beast. The nose is backed full of fresh baking spices, muscovado sugar, dried fruit - mostly apricots, but also mirabelle and quince. On the palate and impeccable freshness up front and coalesce in the mid-palate to move toward an almost tropical rancio character. Of course, we're way drier than most modern adulterated cognac, but the high proof is almost imperceptible and the fruit is so pungent and fine that no astringency or bitterness seems evident. The finish is persistent but not as cloying as some Cognac drinkers might be used to, moving away from the fruit back toward the dark spice and burnt sugar flavors. The experience of a true cask strength single barrel is so unusual, the moniker "Tres Rare" is perfectly fitting. The brandy itself is in this perfectly balanced state of maturity: on its surface its youthful and fresh, but you'll dive in to find its soul is a legend experience well beyond it's years. Very proud to have found this cask after nearly a decade of searching the region for something worthy and “affordable”. Hopefully we'll continue to unearth exceptional brandies in the cellar of this very special small producer.

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