First shipments of the Illusione Epernay 10th Anniversary D’Aosta will be going out to retailers this week, a new, regular-production size that commemorates the brand’s 10 years on the market. It’s also the 12th cigar in Epernay’s portfolio, an extensive line that includes everything from a diminutive petit corona to a towering “A” size more than 9 inches long. The new D’Aosta falls somewhere in the middle at 6 inches by 50 ring gauge and carries a suggested retail price of $12 per cigar.
Epernay is named after the Champagne-producing town in France whose effervescent wine inspired the sweet and floral character of the cigar. Lighter in body than the core Illusione brand, Epernays contain no strong, ligero tobacco, as brand-owner Dion Giolito wanted to emphasize balance and finesse over power and richness.
The Epernay blend contains only Nicaraguan tobacco and is covered in a shade-grown, Corojo ’99 wrapper, but the blend for the new D’Aosta size differs slightly from the other Epernays— it's rolled with a different binder that Giolito says will better showcase the internal tobaccos.
Another notable difference is the packaging. Unlike the rest of the Epernay line, which comes in natural, unstained wooden boxes, D’Aosta is packaged in a 10-count, slide-lid box stained a dark, reddish hue. There’s one more stand-out difference as well. While all the sizes in the Epernay series have French names, D’Aosta is Italian, referring to the mountainous region of Northern Italy where Giolito’s family is originally from.
All Epernays are made in Honduras at Raices Cubanas, the same factory where the core Illusione line was originally produced. When Giolito moved production of his core line from Honduras to Aganorsa Leaf (then called TABSA) in Nicaragua, he decided to leave Epernay where it was.
Cigars in the Epernay line tend to perform consistently well in our blind tastings, with many scoring 90 points or higher, and three sizes appearing on our Top 25 list: Le Ferme (2009), Le Matin (2010) and Le Taureau (2011).
For a rating of the new Illusione Epernay 10th Anniversary D’Aosta and a vertical brand tasting of the entire Epernay line, see the October 8 issue of Cigar Insider.