Cigar Aficionado

The Terroir of Cuban Cigars

I smoked a H. Upmann Magnum 46 over the weekend with a winemaker friend in Tuscany who also spends a lot of time in Geneva. The cigar was fantastic and it came from a large stash of 46s currently on sale at Gerard Pere et Fils in Geneva, which remains one of the great cigar shops in the world. Apparently, owner Vahe Gerard stocked up on the smokes about a year ago because he was impressed with their quality.

The man did well. In fact, I can still taste the Magnum 46's spicy, earthy, rich flavors and full and satisfying texture as I write this blog. The cigar has almost a decadent, meaty character to it.

“Smell this,” said my friend late in the evening on Saturday, holding his unlit 46 to his nose. “You don’t find that in cigars from other parts of the world. It’s that earthy, rich character that only Cubans deliver. What’s that all about?”

I explained to him as we lit up our smokes that it was all about the same things as great wine…soil, climate, fermentations, aging, processing, and manufacturing. The French have a word for it—terroir—in regards to wine. My understanding of the term is that the greatness of a wine is a question of the interplay of soil, climate and man. We might use a word in English like ecosystem. I am not sure what it would be in Spanish – ecosistema?

In any case, in my opinion great wine and great cigars are a question of terroir. It’s when that amazing combination of soil, climate and the work of man translates through tobacco and grapes, which ultimately become a great cigar or a great bottle of wine.

And I had that feeling last Saturday night when I was smoking a Magnum 46 with my friend. I gave it 93 points. Try one.

"JamesQuestion for you. As a Canadian I have access to some great Cubans which are a real pleasure. I regularly read in CA re vintage cubans smoking well such as late '90s. Where can someone source out such boxes for purchase and do you have a list of recommend names that you would recommend for aging. I am new to the cigar world but have already stocked up the humidor with Monte#2, Uphman, Paratgas, R&J Short Churchills and Bolivars. Are there others you recommend?Dean" —June 12, 2007 22:54 PM
"I think that all 2006 production Cubans will go down as being a stellar vintage. There are many, many lines that are smoking good young. Are you guys putting any back for the long term." —June 7, 2007 16:43 PM
"Totally agree, the H. Upmann Magnum 46 is a fabulous cigar, and is one of my favorite cuban cigars. Keep up the great work.Rick Thomas" —June 4, 2007 23:44 PM
"Thanks James. Another great story from a man who is living a great life!" —June 4, 2007 23:23 PM