St-Remy is French brandy but it’s not Armagnac and it’s not Cognac. It’s actually made from grapes from all over France: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Beaujolais, the Rhône and Loire valleys, and Languedoc-Roussillon. That’s unusual for France, but it gives Cecile Roudaut, who’s been with parent company Remy-Cointreau since 1997, a lot more flexibility when it comes to crafting a product. With Signature, she is now launching her first original product as master blender.
Roudaut began working on this product in 2013, and after some trials in Europe it is now coming to the U.S. The product is a blend of 30 to 50 (!) different varietals used to create eaux-de-vie, and it is matured in two different types of oak casks. (Per the company: “The first maturation takes place in new oak casks (Quercus Petraea species with a fine grain) using medium and high heat. The second maturation takes place in traditional casks (Quercus Robur species with a large grain) using high heat only.”) No age statement or designation (a la VSOP) is provided.
After a Zoom introduction to the product from Roudaut, I was pleased to be able to sample Signature. Thoughts follow.
An initial rush of oak is balanced by fruit, some spice, and ample vanilla coming on strong. (Roudaut mentions coconut, but I don’t really catch much of that.) The palate is intensely fruity, apples and pears leading to lighter notes of dried raisins. Plenty of sweet vanilla here, the brandy becoming more candylike as it lingers on the palate. As the finish arrives, notes of milk chocolate arrive. The finish is spun sugar and Starburst, gentle notes of linen and incense lingering on the conclusion.
There’s a lot of flavor in Signature but it’s not dramatic in complexity, nor is it really intended to be at this price level. I wouldn’t try to compare it to Cognac but put it up against American brandy, where the flavor profile is similar, and against which Signature acquits itself admirably.