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Jack Bettridge

The Cigar and Cognac Conundrum

Posted: Jul 31, 2007 3:43pm ET
Sometimes this antismoking dementia gets in the way of my doing my job.

The other night I was invited to a dinner hosted by Remy Martin. The point was to show off its 1738 Accord Royal, technically a VSOP, but the company characterizes it as being a notch above that premium level, even while its not old enough to be termed XO. Standard Remy VSOP sells for $36.99, the 1738 version for $49.99. Like all Remy products, it’s a blend of eaux-de-vie that comes strictly from the Champagne crus of Cognac (so called for their especially chalky soil and not to be confused with Champagne region and its sparkling wines). In this case, the Cognac is 65 percent Grand Champagne and 35 percent Petite Champagne. The name, 1738 Accord Royal, stems from an eighteenth century degree from Louis XV that allowed Remy to extend its grape production in an era when new plantings were prohibited.

Now here comes Bettridge, who always natters on about how the Cognac accompaniments for a cigar should be XO level or above (see the video currently on the Cigaraficionado.com web site for more on that). So I taste the Cognac, and yes it is notably richer than the typical VSOP. My knock on lesser Cognacs is that they don’t have as much complexity and therefore fewer notes with which to harmonize with a good cigar.

This 1738 version seemed to be an exception to my rule, with a depth and width of flavor uncommon at this level. There was plenty of nuts and spice with round chocolate notes and orange and apple on a long finish.

That’s all great, but I still don’t know how it goes with a cigar. Why because the pleasant restaurant we were in (BLT Steak) is in Manhattan and in New York you can’t smoke in restaurants anymore -- even in a private room, which this was.

So I’ll have to get back to you later on how the 1738 worked out with a cigar. Any smoking suggestions?


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