Our monthly spirits tasting focuses on gin, but we'll be hanging back on Cinco de Mayo. Also be on the lookout for the incredible new Cognacs from Comandon.
Just as your food choices change from hearty in winter to light and fresh in the summer, the styles of my tipples tend to conform to the seasons as well. When it's dark when I get home from work, I reach for the browns, but we're in the middle of spring with summer on the horizon, and suddenly a gin and tonic with a squeeze of fresh lime seems just about perfect right now.
To reinforce this spring swing, I'm taking my sprits road show back to Table 301 Bistro this month for an artisan Gin tasting. So many creative gins have been coming into view, I want to showcase the best of them Wednesday May 29th at 7:30 p.m. Call the restaurant at (562) 436-4344 to reserve your seat.
Cinco de Mayo falls on a Sunday this year. (Employers--you may be short-staffed on Seis de Mayo.) This is more of a nachos and guacamole, Coronas-and-shots kind of celebration. And if you're under 25, go for it! I remember my first tequila hangover like it was yesterday. Tequila and I got divorced for about 20 years.
If you are past the lost-weekend-at-Hussong's phase of life, and you appreciate the distillers art with Agave, then you'll appreciate Tequila 123's two offerings this month. One is a superb blanco, the other a haunting super-luxury Extra-Añejo called Diablito. You can celebrate Cinco de Mayo, too, but you won't want to do shots with these craft spirits. Sip, baby, sip while you enjoy the good life.
123 (Uno Dos Trés) Uno Organic Tequila 100% de Agave Blanco
Ultra-premium doesn't even begin to describe this outstanding tequila house. Drinking this 80 proof aromatic tequila that is almost like drinking gin. It's a very good, clean, elegant tequila. (I can't wait to try the Dos & Trés. The Diablito, however, is a mind-blowing luxury.)
$52.99 per bottle
123 (Uno Dos Trés) Diablito Organic Tequila
100% de Agave Extra Añejo
Having sampled this incredible tequila at a trade tasting last year, I ordered this rare beauty without success. Unbeknownst to me, 123 Tequila was in the midst of switching representation, and it was almost by accident that the new company dropped by The Wine Country to sample 123's excellent blanco. I immediately snapped up the two tequilas, and look forward to sampling the house's reposado and añejo (dos and trés). So what did I think about the Extra Añejo? Very rich tasting super-premium tequila, having spent 40 months in oak.
$179.99 per bottle
I recently had the privilege of sitting down with Franck Vigneron whose family purchased the Comandon Cognac house in 2008, and we proceeded to sample a large range of lovely single-batch and regional brandies. Comandon was created as a family negociant in 1821, and was once owned by the Mitterand family (yes, that Mitterand).
The house of Comandon is now producing single barrel vintage Cognac made 100% from Ugni Blanc (except for one Bons Bois Folle Blanche bottling). The Single Cask offerings are usually bottled at cask strength with no coloring agents added. Recently redesigned, the handsome presentation is as inviting as the award-winning spirits inside. Very pretty brandies.
Comandon Single Barrel Cognac VSOP
Bottled at 40% alcohol, the Comandon VSOP is a delicate brandy, with attractive spice running from the nose to the delightful flavor.
$43.99 per bottle
2012 Comandon Vintage Single Cask Cognac Bons Bois Folle Blanche
A distinctive departure for Comandon, this Folle Blanche from the Bons Bois region is from the original 1869 grape variety. Only two rows of Folle Blanche were vinified to make this brandy, then it was aged in used oak. A very pale color masks how assertive the flavor actually is. The finish is satisfying. As it was explained to us, it's like a time machine back to the way Cognac was once made.
$59.99 per bottle (delayed--arriving soon--taking pre-orders)
2012 Comandon Vintage Single Cask Cognac Petite Champagne
Fruity, spicy and delicate, this appealing brandy is a charmer. 41.5% alcohol
$64.99 per bottle
2007 Comandon Vintage Single Cask Cognac Grande Champagne
With a copper-tinged brass color, this concentrated brandy has a little spice in the nose and a slightly smoky finish. 42% alcohol.
$119.99 per bottle
2007 Comandon Vintage Single Cask Cognac Borderies
Solid fruit is apparent in this very nice, balanced brandy. Only 120 bottles were allocated for the U.S. market, so there may be no re-orders for us. Due to its rarity, the Borderies bottling is slightly more expensive than the vintage Grande Champagne bottling from 2007.
$121.99 per bottle
Comandon Cognac XO Signature Limited Release Single Batch
The brandies that make up this XO blend average 14 years of age. Soft on the palate, it packs in a lot of character. Spicy notes throughout.
$119.99 per bottle
Comandon Cognac XO Extra Old Limited Release Single Batch
A limited release blended from brandies with an average age of 21 years, this limited release bottling exhibits vanilla on the nose and on the palate, with loads of complex flavors. It is a sipping cognac to be savored.
$139.99 per bottle