On Thursday, July 26, 2012, a new cognac debuted in the United States market. And it’s not just another brand of cognac; in fact, it is definably, remarkably different from its siblings. Camus Cognac Ile de Ré Fine Island, from the island of the same name just off the Charente-Maritime coast from the city of La Rochelle in France, is a unique spirit from a unique location in Cognac.
Imagine a bold, fruity, yet spicy cognac crossed with the bold marine flavors of Islay Single Malt Scotch and you have a good suggestion of the style of the Camus Cognac Ile de Ré Fine Island; it’s a unique flavor experience and is expected to be quite popular in the U.S., if other markets are any clue.
The distinguished and dynamic family firm of Maison Camus, the “Fifth House of Cognac”, centered in the tiny, select area of the Borderies Cru, and helmed by the innovative and visionary fifth generation descendant, Cyril Camus, has previously enjoyed lively sales in the duty-free, European, and Asian markets, and is now making an impression in the U.S. market as well.
Camus Cognac is most famous for their homeplace icon, the Camus Cognac Borderies XO, a soft and fragrant spirit exclusively from the Borderies Cru. They recently introduced a new line to great acclaim, the Camus Cognac Elegance, in VS, VSOP and XO grades. The Camus Cognac Ile de Ré will be released in three quality levels as well: the Fine Island, Double Matured, and Cliffside Select.
The Ile de Ré cognacs are unique in several ways: First, the island has a decided maritime climate that exerts a strong influence on the character and nature of the spirit. Second, the eau-de-vie is distilled on the lees for extra flavor. Third, and most irresistible to aficionados of wine and cognac, the vines are pre-phylloxera since the sandy soils of the island did not allow the plant louse to flourish and necessitate replacing the vines with American rootstock.
The Camus Cognac Ile de Ré Fine Island, youngest of the three, has a bold and forthright flavor with the intriguing maritime nature of sandy beaches and salty air from the barrel aging in humid island cellars.
The Cognac Double Matured, fermented and distilled on the lees, is first aged in the island cellars and then moved to the heart of Cognac to be further aged in lightly charred French oak barrels for additional body and smoky character.
The Cognac Cliffside Select is entirely made and matured on the island, first in damp island cellars, then in cellars underneath the Fort de la Prée, a medieval fortress on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean exposed to the strong ocean winds.
The Camus Cognac Ile de Ré Fine Island was introduced simultaneously at the Annual Conference of the Society of Wine Educators in California and the Tales of the Cocktail, by Cyril Camus himself, in New Orleans.
The three iterations are to be priced at $49 for the Fine Island, $69 for the Double Matured, and $99 for the Cliffside Select. Initial distribution markets will be New York, California, and Florida.