Friday, February 17, 2012

Frapin VSOP cognac delivers floral, citrus, and oaky glory - a small slice of the high end you can rationalize any time.

Frapin VSOP Cognac is a great story: a giant estate in the heart of the Cognac region with a castle that has housed the family that owns this spirit making operation since the 13th century. The estate is large
enough that all the grapes for their cognac are grown on the estate - unusual if not unique for the region. The house of Frapin is obsessed with quality, emphasizing dry cellaring over the more common damp cellaring. Dry is more costly as it increases the loss of the angel's share - but concentrates flavors because water is lost in proportion with spirit over time unlike damp cellaring which adds smoothness but sacrifices intensity by keeping the water proportion higher. How does all this trickle down to the mid-priced VSOP product (their second to the bottom of the line?)

Color - orangy amber - a rich and pretty color but certainly not the rich henna tones of the serious stuff.

Nose: crystallized orange, citrus flowers, cognac spirit, sultanas, distant oak

Entry is sweet with white raisin grapey syrup. There is glory and rich mouthfeel in the sweet thrill of this opening. Midpalate blooms quickly with jammy citrus notes of orange and lemon, spirit heat as peppery boldness, and also a confectionery candy quality with somewhat faint floral overtones of honeysuckle and jasmine. In the transition to the finish things rapidly darken as floral oak turns to tannin bite. This emerging bitter note meshes well with the crystalized orange as an candy orange rind feeling. Finish is moderately long with a cilantro note in the back of the throat at the fade out and lingering vinous sap.

This is a delicious and classically cognac flavor profile. It shows
its lack of age in the absence of cheese (rancio) notes and relative lack of floral complexity - but these are not missed in the drinking; sins of omission; not commission. Frapin VSOP makes no mis-steps. What's here is all good. About as tasty a mid-tier cognac ever is. Frapin is pricey for a VSOP. You might be tempted to go for a lesser XO. Don't underestimate the sprightly youthful quality's upside: floral and fruity and somewhat light hearted, Frapin VSOP succeeds.


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