Brandy, the spirit of wine, soul of the grape (or sometimes, the apple!) is certainly one of the finest things in life. To sit back after a large meal with good friends and savor a snifter of Cognac, Armagnac or Calvados is a wonderful way to spend time.
At D&M we make something of fetish of fine French brandies. We can probably bore you to tears discussing the differences between Armagnac and Cognac. We can wax positively poetic about Calvados. But here we’ll just give you the shorthand version.
COGNAC is probably the best known of all French brandies. It is produced in the Champagne region (not the one that makes bubbly wines, another Champagne region. It seems to mean something about chalky soil). Located south of Bordeaux along the river Charentes, Cognac is a rich and noble distillate of the wine of the ugni blanc grape. At D&M our focus is on the smaller houses in the area, many of them still family-owned and run. We seek out brandies that haven’t been adulterated with caramel coloring or chemicals used to simulate wood. We think this luxurious brandy deserves to be experienced in its purest state.
ARMAGNAC is sometimes thought of as Cognac’s country cousin. This is the brandy of Gascony, in southwestern France. It is still a hand made, farm product, and it wears its rusticity with pride. Made predominately from Folle Blanche and Bacco grapes, Armagnac is rich, sometimes almost fat, and loaded with entire spice racks of flavors. Because the Armagnac industry is so small (and getting smaller by the day), it’s possible to keep track of the vintages. We offer the largest selection of vintage dated Armagnac at retail in the world, we’ve been told. Vintage Armagnac makes a perfect gift for that special birthday or anniversary.
CALVADOS is the third great brandy of France. It comes from Normandy, where there are no grape vines, and is made from cider produced from apples and pears. A glass of Calvados in the middle of a large meal is just the thing to open up the “Norman hole” that will let you move on to the next rich course. As Calvados ages, it gets softer and richer, while maintaining the essence of the fruit.
If you’re as interested in the world’s finest brandies as we are, you might want to check out the D&M Cognac Inner Circle, the D&M Armagnac Inner Circle or the D&M Calvados Inner Core.