In Segonzac, the heart of the prestigious Grande Champagne district in France's Cognac region, Alexandre Gabriel, Master Blender of Maison Ferrand, carries on centuries-old traditions. While Ferrand isn't a household name like Hennessy or Courvoisier, its beautifully-finished brandies are highly-prized among cognac connoisseurs the world over.
Now Gabriel is releasing one of the most exclusive cognacs ever produced, Ferrand Cognac Légendaire, aptly translated as legendary, a "communion" of the maison's oldest cognac stocks, some of which date back 100 years. Only 500 decanters are being offered globally in November, priced at $2,800 USD apiece.
Légendaire is "a tribute to prestigious craftsmanship and to time itself; time that is necessary to create great cognacs, and that seems to stand still at the gates of Mademoiselle Manor," Ferrand's chateau in Cognac built in 1861 by Elie Ferrand VII. The ancient casks from which Légendaire is blended have been hidden away in the Paradis cellar beneath the stately mansion.
After its time aging in their original oak casks, the elixirs used for Légendaire spent time in demijohns or wicker-covered glass bottles, before being finished in a single "zebra" barrel. The latter is created when oak staves are progressively removed from the original cask and replaced by new ones, "adding subtle notes of tannins while preserving the elegance of the cognac."
As befits something this beautifully made, the metal-embellished Légendaire decanters, hand-crafted by French crystal maker Waltersperger, are works of art in themselves. Each comes fitted in a special wooden case evoking the door to the chateau and the world of discovery within.
Légendaire's careful maturation in French oak lends it a "rare smoothness and complexity," Ferrand says, imparting notes of clove, cardamom, pepper and paprika, "coated with the richness of buttered caramel, almond, vanilla and honey." These then "evolve towards a fruitier profile of mandarin orange, blackberry and hawthorn, combined with notes of moss, cocoa and incense, accentuating the sensation of depth."
In a word: delicious.