At long last, Camus Cognac is launching its Extra Elegance blend to the United States in a marketing move that presages a number of new issues to come here in the near future.
Camus, the fifth largest Cognac house worldwide, has been a family-owned producer for five generations, since its inception in 1863. While this Extra version has been part of its offerings from its beginnings, this is the first time it has been for sale (with the exception of duty-free) to Americans. The extreme Camus version enjoys wide popularity in the Asian market, and the company says that it is the leading “extra” globally.
David Kell, the U.S.A. marketing manager for Camus, describes the Cognac as a blend of exceptional eaux de vie that are generally older than those in its XO expression. While XO (minimum age of six years) is the highest age claim allowed by Cognac regulations, many houses offer brandies that are far older, and the term “extra” on the label has become a popular way of indicating that.
The Extra Elegance, Kell adds, blends eaux de vie from vineyards in the Borderies, Grand Champagne and Petite Champagne regions, which are often considered to be the most exceptional of Cognac’s six crus. “The Grande Champagne eaux de vie provides excellent length on the palate; those from Petite Champagne give structure and firmness to the body of the cognac; those from Borderies offer a velvety texture and sweet pastry flavors.”
In a world where the Champagne regions are often ballyhooed above all others, Camus has made a name for itself by championing the Borderies region of Cognac. In fact, one of its XO offerings is purely from its most favored region, which is the smallest cru in Cognac. The maker is also planning to debut several of its vintage Cognacs in the United States within the next year. As well, expect to see iterations from its Ile de Ré collection, made exclusively with eaux de vie from that island, which is the westernmost region for Cognac production.
Camus is also known for its outstanding bottle designs, and the Extra Elegance is no exception. In 2005, its package was redesigned to acquire what Kell describes as “the timeless and beautifully understated marriage of metal and glass with precise angles and soft contours.” The bottle, which won the 2007 Pentaward for Best Luxury, includes no label, nor inscription.
(Cigar pairings on next page)
Camus Extra Elegance (80 proof or 40 percent alcohol, $395 for 750 milliliters, $1,000 for 1.75 liters)
APPEARANCE: Dark amber, some copper, quick fat legs.
NOSE: Very spicy aroma with nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and some must and oranges. All meld together as crème brulee and apple pie.
PALATE: Spice takes a 90-degree turn and becomes very sweet and fruity with undertones of cinnamon. Exceptionally smooth in the mouth it pops with notes of cherry and fresh raisin bread.
FINISH: Becomes a bit earthy on the aftertaste with the cinnamon and raisins lingering on.
Room 101 O.S.O.K. Trucha (90 points, Cigar Insider)
A figurado that presents some acidity, which blossoms into coffee bean character, dried red fruit and a cinnamon spiciness. The cigar’s cinnamon meshes admirably with the same note on the Cognac, and then the magic happens. Out come flavors of a sugary coffee cake. The brandy is the hero in this exceptional pairing, helping the cigar along.
Illusione Epernay La Vie (91 points, Cigar Insider)
This lovely cigar begins with a salty, nutty flavor, growing richer with coffee notes and a toasty finish. While it is not as successful a pairing as the first, the Camus succeeds in smoothing some of the initial rough edges on the cigar. The Cognac gets earthier with the smoke, but doesn’t keep up with its savory undertones as the Illusione becomes more and more leathery.