Cognac: Vallein Tercinier

Let’s begin the Cognac part of “Yaktober” with my absolute favorite bottler: Vallein Tercinier. They just release stuff like no other. They are the Velier of the Cognac world if you want. We shall have a standard first and the move on over to the serious fellas.

Vallein Tercinier Roots XO (Blend, 44%): A blend containing Cognacs from Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne and Fins Bois where each ingredient is at least ten years old. Nose: A relatively standard light-fruits and pastry brandy, which could also be a young Armagnac. We get a few nutty notes, green fruits (think sour apples, apricot), non-sweet pastries and later clearly also spices such as Szechuan pepper, anise and cumin. Solid, but not special at all, i.e. not the Vallein Tercinier quality we are used to. Palate: Quite mellow with a few of those slightly sour notes (lime, green apple), the pastry, oak, hops and notes reminiscent of a continental fruit basket. It is slightly less complex than the nose but plays in the same solid, yet minuscule stadium. Finish: Short and quite forgettable if it weren’t for those lavender notes. Then the green fruits, figs and oak. The Yak comes in a nice bottle with a nice label, but that’s its biggest advantage if we may say so. (75/100)

Vallein Tercinier Lot 73 48YO (Petite Champagne, 1973-2021, 48,4%): Nose: I’ve read somewhere that this is the kind of Yak that makes Whisky drinkers think they are getting an old ex-Sherry cask Whisky and I can totally understand what they mean. It is more of a refill ex-Sherry cask expression though with grapefruit, blood oranges, yellow stone fruits (definitely apricot!), leather, mild cinnamon and even milder wood, furniture polish, tonka and lime. Very, very good. Palate: Even better perhaps. It is a bit sharper than the nose suggested but we get pretty much exactly those very same lovely, fruity notes as we had in the nose. Here that’s probably even a plus as this is a profile that is extremely easy to fall in love with. While the mix of apricot, grapefruit and lime is still dominating, there’s more though: fresh and candied ginger, limestone, 7up and high quality, non-sweet pastry. Excellent! Finish: Quite long with the baked goods, wood, preserved and candied apricot and a mix of gummy bears. If we were Whisky-drinkers, we would have made the switch to Cognac right now. But wait, we are already there… for all the right reasons however! (90/100)

Vallein Tercinier Petite Rue 71 47YO (Petite Champagne, 1971-2018, 46,8%): Nose: My first idea is that this could also be a Rum, like an old low to medium ester Jamaican for example. It is extremely fruity with mango, pineapple, apple, citrus, a whiff of acetone, passion fruit and then dried apricot. This is extremely good! Then wood, mild tobacco (high quality, I can tell!), ultra sweet grapes and a few herbs. Yes, the parallels to our beloved Jamaicans are omnipresent! Palate: A lot drier than the nose with decidedly fewer tropical fruits. Instead, bitter oranges, cardamom, apples, Wick Blau, menthol, a mix of citrus fruits, old and dusty books and equally old book shelves are my main associations. Still good, but not as stellar as the nose. Finish: Long with that Wick Blau and menthol note. Then anise, wood, sour citrus notes and fennel seeds. You get where this is going I guess. It is top notch stuff, where we just cannot reach the greatness of the nose – almost as usual. (89/100)

Vallein Tercinier Lot 70 49YO (Petite Champagne, 1970-2019, 52%): Nose: Absolutely lovely stunning. We get a mix of tropical fruits such as mango, banana, kiwi and litchi but also straw- and bramble berries. Behind that oak, cinnamon, marzipan and plum juice. Oh my beauty. Not only is the aroma profile just to our liking, it is extremely high quality as well. The 52% seem to help tremendously. Palate: Quite a bit different from the nose. We start with the kiwi again, but then quickly move over to yellow plums, a certain sourness (pink Ahoi Brause anyone!?), here and there the other fruits from the nose (but not as individually decisive – right!), cinnamon and cocoa. If we weren’t Vallein Tercinier fanboys already, we’d be some now. There’s just no other Cognac bottler that releases stuff like this. Finish: Pears, wood, spices and kiwi are always there, oranges, hazelnut and dark chocolate come and go. It’s very rare that Cognacs catch us the way this one does! (92/100)

Vallein Tercinier 1967 50YO (Grande Champagne, 1967-2018, 47,6%): This label features a proper vintage! What a rare sight! Nose: Plenty of pears and apples. At first, that’s it, but after a while we also get dark berries, cassis, burnt wood, soil, maybe tar even and spices such as cinnamon or cloves. Very simple, but at the same time very good! Palate: What a smooth and silky texture! We get apples, wood, pears as well and given its oakyness, surprisingly few bitter notes. Sure, there’s black tea and citrus peel, but that’s well within limits. The astringency is pretty nice as well! Then caramel, fennel, honey and something close to sage perhaps. It’s really good stuff, my only complaint is that it is not complex enough. Finish: Long with sweet potato, licorice and wood. Pretty interesting! For me, it is a dram I’ll always love, but also one I’d never seek out actively. (86/100)

Vallein Tercinier Lot 66 49YO (Petite Champagne, 1966-2015, 51,3%): Nose: Rich and and especially judged by its age relatively light with glue, wood, a mix of fruits including apples, apricot and pear, wood of course, chamomile, fennel and celery. It is neither very complex nor is this my preferred Cognac profile but we have to attest its quality. Palate: Again a bit on the light side of things, despite a pronounced bitterness that can be found right away. The texture is very smooth and creamy, but the alcohol could be integrated just a wee bit better in my opinion. Flavour-wise, we get light fruits (apple, quince, apricot), wood (less than you might think), almonds and hazelnuts, a tad of cocoa and notes closer to barley or wheat. Finish: Medium long, starting with the light fruits before moving first to bitter and subsequently to woody and grain-like notes. It’s high quality stuff, just a bit too simple and not suiting our personal palate entirely. (85/100)

Vallein Tercinier Rue 34 80YO (Grande Champagne, 1934-2015, 42%): This stuff is at least 80 years old. Nose: Oh my, this is good! Mango, passion fruit and vanilla yogurt are my first impressions. They are right there, right away! There’s not too much wood and neither is there a real need to wait for this beauty to open up (note that’s already the second time we’ve used this term). Then beeswax, resin, candied ginger, honey, herbal notes and wood. Absolutely stunning, as it eventually shifts away from those fruity notes to drier and more floral notes such as chamomile or fennel. Palate: 42% feel a bit too thin, unfortunately. The mix of mango, passion fruit and vanilla is still my main association, but wood, plantain and grapefruit are quick to follow. Very interesting and exceedingly dry and bitter. It is funny how this bitterness is evolving, almost as if you keep up on eating those juicy, yet ultra bitter grapefruits. Fantastic! Towards the finish we also get those herbs again. Finish: Earl Grey tea anyone? Yeah, black tea, bergamot and grapefruit are definitely in the mix, but oak, oranges and mango cannot be dismissed either. Absolutely crazy stuff that has the flavour profile of a rather young and more recent spirit but the feeling, texture and sensuality of an extremely old fella. Simply Lovely! (91/100)