Eric Forget, cellarmaster for Hine Cognac,
is clear about the French pronunciation of his name (for-Zhay)
. He came to New York in September to introduce the commemorative bottling of Hine’s 250th Anniversary Cognac. Hine specializes in vintage-dated Cognacs, aged in Jarnac, as well as Early Landed Cognacs, often from the same vintage stocks, aged in deep cellars in the UK. The spirit Forget selected for this anniversary bottling is now 60 years old: He tastes the firm’s entire stock each year to evaluate the inventory, and the 1953 vintage has consistently come out on top.
“Sixty years ago,” Forget explained, “one barrel attracted the attention of François Hine and his son, Bernard. They put this cask away in the family cellar. 1953 was a very dry year in Cognac, perhaps the driest of the century. In the winter, there was snow and temperatures dropped to negative sixteen degrees Celsius. March was dry, and the weather continued cold until the end of June. There was only one day in August that reached thirty-five degrees Celsius (rare for only one day in the season to be that hot). These difficult weather conditions gave this Cognac qualities that required long aging.”
Forget says the Cognac remained in cask in the family cellar for the entire sixty years, prior to bottling in 250 Baccarat crystal decanters
designed by Andrée Putman. It is numinously fresh, with scents of orange zest and dark, resonant base notes of flavor. The scent is as compelling as the finish is long. —Joshua Greene
$13,000; Anchor Distilling, San Francisco, CA
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Joshua Greene is the editor and publisher of Wine & Spirits magazine.
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