Gélas mono-cépages + Chateau du Prada 1992 100% Colombard

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Pierre
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Gélas mono-cépages + Chateau du Prada 1992 100% Colombard

Postby Pierre » Mon Sep 30, 2013 6:48 pm

It's always interesting (for me) to learn how to distinguish the elements that constitute my favourite brandies. This is why I was thrilled to find a set of mono-cépage bottles from Gélas during my Armagnac tour ! Gélas is a well distributed armagnac and I only had the opportunity to taste their younger product for the moment (that left me unimpressed, being either very watered down or having a bit of cardbox taste that is a bit dull). Their aim is to propose an 18 YO cask strength armagnac of each of the cépages they grow and use in their blends. The set is thus composed of the following:
* 100% Folle Blanche at 44.8%
* 100% Baco at 47.4%
* 100% Ugni Blanc at 48.8%
Of course you already see that their abv is different, suggesting they were possibly aged in different cellars etc... You just can't isolate the factors and you can never reach definite conclusions but that's no reason not to try and have some fun ;) Let's say they're as close as can be.
To complete the picture and make myself a set of reference points concerning cépages, I also included in my benchmark test a bottle of Chateau du Prada 1992 100% Colombard at 46%, that is claimed to have spent 17 years in barrel, putting it fairly close to the Gélas in terms of years in the wood.

So let's come to my impressions of these four bottles:
* Folle Blanche: the nose is maybe the most varnished/alcoholic of the four (although it is the lowest abv), but I could distinguish orange flowers, light butter and pie, and general flowery and vegetal things going on, nothing very surprising for a FB brandy, this is probably the most popular type of mono-cépage you can find... The palate is more on creamy and buttery flavours while the finish comes back to flowers and orange. I maybe prefer the Clos-Martin 1987 but it is a few years older, it might be why.
* Baco: this is clearly more austere than the FB, I can smell old wood, like old furniture and light smoky and grilled perfumes. The smoke and grilled impressions keep on developping afterwards, maybe accompanied by a hint of coffee... This reminded me of the 1979 Domaine de Nautina (also 100% Baco) for this impression of austerity but with less complexity I think. I tasted Baco things that were more fruity so I don't feel I can say this is intrinsic of Baco...
* Ugni Blanc: this should be better known territory, as UB constitutes the highest proportion of armagnac blends and many armagnac/cognac producers actually sell 100% UB products. It is for sure more classic than the other ones but it is also surprisingly very smooth, the smoothest of all, despite having the highest abv... On the nose this was reminiscent of passito or sauternes wine, with passion/exotic fruits plus hints of blond tobacco, vanilla and wood. This transformed in more acidic fruits on the palate (like apples), and still oak developping on the finish to become sweeter... Not bad at all actually, and I expected this one to be the least interesting !
* Colombard: this one must rest a bit before you can discern something interesting because it starts quite strong on the alcohol. This is a bottle that will like a bit of oxygen and will probably be better when half empty. Once it calms down you can smell a very tannic armagnac, lots of wood, leaning towards cacao and coffee. A bit of smoked wood develops on the palate along with leather and some traces of... what, cigares ? "animal" stuff ? Not exactly sure. Anyway this ends up on a finish that is somewhat bitter and tannic, not overly for me but it is not far. A few more years in the barrel and it would be unbalanced for me. It seems there is a lot from the wood in this particular spirit, so I'm not sure how to caracterise Colombard yet...

So what's the conclusion ? Well, there are several lessons for me:
* I need to try more stuff from Gélas, it can be very nice, maybe their blended 18YO (at 40%) to see how they mixed all this and what they did with it :mrgreen:
* It's an excellent idea to propose this kind of products for more curious customers, giving an idea of what the cellar master has at its disposition. Alas I just have 10cl bottles, I would like to get myself a set of 70cl bottles and try to make my own blends :D I salute the initiative to propose them at cask strength also.
* I expected UB to be the most boring but I was not right ! However the caracters are pretty distinct between the different types and it is very nice to have these different flavours at our disposal: the Baco and Colombard have more "austere" qualities that I do not find so frequently in armagnac and I do appreciate it, leaning towards coffee, cacao etc...
* It's hard to generalise from one experiment, so... I'll keep my tastebuds open and see whether I can infirm or confirm this in the future !
Last edited by Pierre on Fri Oct 11, 2013 10:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

numen
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Re: Gélas mono-cépages + Chateau du Prada 1992 100% Colombar

Postby numen » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:51 am

Thanks for the superb review! I really appreciate your posting the differences between the four grape varietals. I've never had a 100% Colombard (other than the very fruity brandy from Germain-Robin), but the blends that I have had that use Colombard all have that sort of cocoa/ashy/tobacco/"darker" element, but I wasn't sure whether it was more on the varietal or wood used. It seems to be the varietal! Now, I'm really interested in finding some 100% Colombard armagnacs. I can imagine, though, that it's very sensitive to oak because the flavors already trend in that direction and it could just be too tannic/acrid.

Also, I wonder where they source their eau-de-vie and/or grapes. I've noticed that the same varietal from different villages and districts can have some very different aromas and tastes (or, at least, the same 'elements' of aroma and taste, just with those elements in different balance). Your notes on the baco made me very curious. In some areas, Baco can be very fruity, and be almost flabby on the palate.

Pierre
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Re: Gélas mono-cépages + Chateau du Prada 1992 100% Colombar

Postby Pierre » Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:17 pm

Yes indeed, as you say these darker elements are very sensitive to the quantity of wood in the spirit... As I wrote above, after only 17 years in cask this Colombard armagnac is on the verge of being too tannic and bitter for me, and the gods know that I like woody stuff :mrgreen: Well, let's hope a friend will send you a sample of Colombard armagnac in the future, who knows...

As for the place where grapes have grown, this is a bit difficult to trace, since Gélas is mainly a "seller", they buy a lot from producers but I'm not sure they grow their own vineyards. They are located at Vic-Fezensac, which is at the limit of Bas-Armagnac and Ténarèze regions. The Colombard was grown in Labastide d'Armagnac, close to your beloved village of Le Freche ;) That's pretty much all we can say but indeed you are right about Baco, and actually even grapes coming from the same exact producer but from different years and thus with different time in the wood oscillate between this fruitier and the "darker" personnalities, so it's hard to get a clear idea for me at the moment...

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Re: Gélas mono-cépages + Chateau du Prada 1992 100% Colombar

Postby BSinTX » Sat Oct 12, 2013 7:26 pm

I am now on my second serving of Baron Du Prada Colombard as I had the first with a Rafael Gonzales 1988.


Gotta let this stuff breathe for a while; about 20 minutes at least. The reward is a very nice blend of dark dried fruit, vanilla, maple syrup, coffee, and toffee. Taste is a very interesting balance. I have never had 100% Colombard anything and it is really a nice (albeit different) flavor. The bitterness from the wood provides leather, oak, and a dark chocolate (the high 80% stuff which borders on edible). A few seconds into it, and the sweetness takes over; about the same time the evaporation happens, and I get bananas, caramel, and butterscotch candy. There is some anise spice on the finish and it mixes with the oak very nicely. There is no ABV or year on the package, but I would be highly doubtful that this is 40%. I didn't add any water as it just didn't need any; the ABV is very well matched to the age. Nice long finish, too!


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