On the 24th October a small group joined Charles Braastad of Delamain Cognac and Michelle Brachet, a leading Cognac educator who has just published a fantastic new book, The World of Cognac for a workshop exploring cognac and food pairings from a range of British cheese, charcuterie and chocolates.
Delamain is famed for its unrivalled quality, character and consistency and in this workshop we were looking at three key, distinctive styles; Pale & Dry XO, Vesper XO and Très Vénérable.
Delamain Pale & Dry XO is aged for an average of 25 years, initially separately before being married and aged for a further two years and it is exclusively from eaux-de-vie from Grande Champagne. Pale & Dry is remarkably elegant with floral notes, vanilla, apricot, peach, raisin, fruit of all ages and candied citrus. Pale & Dry is aged in old Limousin oak and does not have any added sugar or caramel, hence the name.
Delamain Vesper XO is a slightly older cognac than Pale & Dry with an average age of 35 years and is again exclusively Grande Champagne. Vesper is slightly darker in colour and it possesses a more robust aroma of spices, dark fruits such as prunes and vanilla.
Delamain Très Vénérable is the oldest cognac of the evening with an average age of 60 years. It is subtle and elegant whilst remaining intense, mellow and yet still crisp and fresh despite its age. Notes of raisins, vanilla, liquorice and honey combine with an amazingly long and complex finish to make this cognac something quite amazing.
Michelle then talked us through the ideas behind great food and cognac pairings, explaining some of the matches she expected to work and those that were expected to clash to illustrate the point. We learnt that when pairing cognac and food it is important to respect the integrity of the product whilst challenging people’s preconceptions of the spirit, after all it is a grape based product and it is much more versatile than people think.
Charcuterie from The Real Cure, Dorset
Hartgrove Coppa – cured pork neck
Salami – white pepper and Fennel
Sloe and garlic Wild venison salami
Cheese from Neal’s Yard Diary, Borough Market
St Cera washed rind a raw cows milk from Suffolk
Montgomery’s Cheddar a raw cows milk from Somerset
Colston Basset Stilton a pasteurised cows milk from Nottinghamshire
Chocolate from Demarquette Fine Chocolates, London
Earl Grey – A black tea and Bergamot infusion
Tunisian Bharat – Damask rose and roasted cinnamon