BONS BOIS SESSION #1
Grosperrin BONS BOIS 25 ANS 49,8%
This cognac has some very cool features. Firstly, as you’ve probably noticed, it’s a Bons Bois, which is such an uncommon thing in the cognac world. Secondly, it comes from a small producer that used to distill with a wood-heated pot still. Thirdly, this cognac has been made from the bottom end of the cru (Chalais), very close to the most secrete part of the Bois Ordinaires (where has been made the Camus Retour à Saint-Aulaye for example). Finally, it has been bottled at 49,8%, but it’s quite a casual quirk in Grosperrin’s range.
Colour: Amber, gold lights. Irregular heavy tears.
Nose: Coastal notes of pine bark and heather. Various resinous shades, mainly cedar and pine wood scents. The very beginning reminds me of some Jamaican rum incipit (like the Worthy Park Transcontinental 2013 for example). Ample melon notes surrounded by dashes of spicy notes of paprika and cardamom. Tinned citruses notes, especially on the apricot stew. A tad of fresh leather smells too.
Mouth: Acidulous palate, full of raisins and prunes at first, immediately followed by warm spicy notes. A delicious fruity aftertaste on vine peaches and young apricots. A tad of acidity on linseed oil and fresh lime juice. The ABV is maybe a little too high, but it remains well-integrated in this Bons Bois.
Last Notes: Full of resinous shades with more air, especially on cedarwood. Some fresh notes on eucalyptus and peppermint. A tad of pastry and fermented notes, something like sesame seeds bread. Great roasted notes on cocoa powder and bitter chocolate. Back on the palate, bitterness, and acidity of fresh grapefruit juice and lingering bitter chocolate notes. It ends on young apricots and banana peel. Hints of marzipan too.
Not my favorite Bons Bois, but it remains an easy well-balanced cognac, and there’s only a lack of complexity to reach another level. Regarding its atypical features (vines planted in very sandy soil for example) and this tasting note, it could easily contest in a UFO comparative session with the Oleron n°90.
ANDRE PETIT LES QUATRE ANNEES DE BERNEUIL 44,3%
This one is a cask strength (in cognac terms) from Andre Petit, in Berneuil. Andre Petit owns vines in P.C, F.B, and B.B, but there is a lot to say about the Bons Bois part (I’ll get back to this point in another session). It’s a full Bons Bois made of 4 different years: 1983, 1985, 1988, and 1993.
Colour: Old gold, orange lights. Irregular medium tears.
Nose: Earthy and musky notes at first. A tad on citruses too. Quite heady. Ample nutty scents on roasted hazelnuts and dry walnut. A few caramel sweets/toffee smell in the background.
Mouth: Very sweet texture. Still on walnuts but surrounded by heavy salted butter caramel notes. Nice bitter chocolate aftertaste. Cooked fruits aftertaste on plums and figs. Hints of candied orange too.
Last Notes: Cooked vegetables and herbs scents now. Caramelized carrots, leek cream, and fennel. A tad of rancioted notes on overripe orchards and rotten peach. Hints of wood scents, mainly on varnished wood. A little freshness with mint leaves smells. Back on the palate, you find caramelized plum notes melted to spiced aromas on white pepper and caraway. Strong caramel sweets aftertaste underlined by a little touch of acidity on tangerine juice.
Not too bad. Maybe it could be better with a tad more balance. A bit like the VT L’Essentiel, a little too much wood influence in my humble opinion.
Grosperrin Bons Bois N°38 42,8% (lot652, 51 liters)
And here is the oldest Bons Bois I’ve ever tasted. 1938. Just a year before the beginning of the Second World War. A true gem preserved at 42,8% in a demi-john since 2000. Anything else to add? Nope.
Colour: Amber, gold lights. Medium irregular tears.
Nose: Great freshness and spiciness at first. Wet herbal notes of parsley and basil. A tad of rosemary and cardamom too. Marvelous patine but something undoubtedly young in this BB38. Syrupy notes on red berries, mainly strawberry and blackberry underlined by delicate acacia honey tones. Tobacco and licorice then. Shades of fermented notes, especially on fresh bread dough. It remains very fruity but with infinite shades on various spectrums. Wonderful, that’s the word.
Mouth: Oily, syrupy texture. An acidulous aftertaste on various herbs and plums liquor. Bay leaf and Sichuan pepper in the mouth length. Bang. Licorice syrup. Ample noble wood notes. Heavy cigar notes. Eucalyptus and mint leave for a terrific wave of freshness. Red and blackberries again, this time on blackcurrant juice. Reminds me a bit of some old P.C, but with a surplus of freshness that I never tasted before.
Last Notes: Majestic cigar notes with more air. Rancioted notes are now fully expressed in the nose part. Herbal notes again, but drier now, with hints of basil powder and cooked rosemary scents for example. Obvious old leather scents. Dusty hay notes, like when you enter an old barn and you remove a dusty cover from a rusty venerable car (let’s say a Peugeot 504). Rancioted notes on rancid butter and fine goat cheese seasoned with a great dash of herbs.
Back on the palate, you find this very specific oily texture carrying acidulous notes of fresh licorice and well-cooked tarragon juice. Still some red berries tones. Magnificent herbal notes surrounded by subtle notes of creamy cheese (Camembert or something similar). Great mouth length on eucalyptus and white pepper. It ends on walnut oil and light grenadine syrup aromas.
I was stunned by the Bons Bois 50 ans, but here is another level of craziness (even if they’re not playing in the same league and they own quite a different style). Outrageous cognac, world-class quality. Finally, it feels old (well, 1938…) and young at the same time.
Disclaimer: This sample was made less than two years ago (in August 2020) but it was stored in perfect conditions so I’m convinced that it didn’t change (or very slightly) during this time, but I prefer to mention it and I will hopefully taste it again later.