Summer of 1995. The vineyard is basking a hot and dry season. Abundant and fleshy grapes promise a memorable harvest. Harvest joyfully begins late September. The vineyard keeps its promises. The grapes are healthy and the harvest, generous. During the vinification, the beautiful vitality of the fruit produces a juice with a marked acidity and a solid alcoholic strength. With a double distillation on lees, the brandy is fragrant, with the aromatic seal of a prodigal year.
In humid cellars, about 2% of the precious treasure evaporates. The alcohol, mainly becomes angel’s share over twenty-five years in favour of the pleasure that the epicurean will experience when tasting a singular cognac, crafted with love and dexterity.
'The 1995 flatters the eye, brilliant and silky, lit by orange hues. On the nose it opens delicately with an arpeggio of delicious notes: a zest of citrus fruits, the brightness of a tangerine. Then unfolds towards spicy fragrances of dried peach and gingerbread, a subtle symphony. On the palate it gives pride of place to the aromas of the orchard, fruit in full bloom which evolve on the palate towards fine vanilla and then delicately spicy notes. The warm nutmeg flavour balances the roundness of warm dried apricot. The finesse and balance go hand in hand until the lingering final note of rancio, long and characteristic of skillfully aged old cognacs.' Patrice Piveteau, Cellar Master.
'Few houses in Cognac have the hallowed history of Frapin, still owned by the original family, who can trace their winegrowing and distilling back to 1270 (the current CEO is the 21st generation). Consider: The family’s coat of arms was bestowed by Louis XIV; the quill logo was designed in honor of famed author François Rabelais, whose mother was a Frapin; Gustave Eiffel constructed the building where the blending is carried out. On a tour, as we passed some cobwebbed old demijohns, I was casually told, ‘Here is the harvest of 1870.’ Jason Wilson, Vinous, September 2019.
Frapin is located in the centre of the Grande Champagne, Premier Cru du Cognac region in the sleepy little town of Segonzac, the finest designated region in Cognac. It is the only merchant located in the town and only sells Cognacs produced from grapes sourced from its own 240ha estate in the heart of the Grande Champagne region. The Frapin family have been wine growers since 1270, but until the 1980s the family’s primary business was as a distiller and supplier of mature Cognacs to Remy Martin, Hennessy and Courvoisier.
In 1984 the Cointreau family (direct descendants of the Frapins) ascended to the management of the company with Beatrice Cointreau at the helm. Since then Cognac Frapin has been re-invigorated and re-positioned as a producer of the very finest Cognacs in its own right, marketed under its own name.
At Frapin all the fruit for the Cognacs is grown on the estate and is usually harvested 2-3 degrees riper than the regional norm to bring extra flavour to the base wine. Distillation always takes place with the lees from fermentation, adding texture and length as well as extra dimensions of flavour complexity. The young Cognacs are aged for a good 2 years or more in new Limousin oak (much more than is typical), before being transferred to older barrels for the long haul. And whilst the average stockholding in the Cognac region is just on 7 years, Frapin currently holds 16 years in stock, highlighting the extra complexity that age brings to its range of Cognacs.
The ageing of the Cognacs at Frapin is further distinguished, with maturation taking place in one of two distinctly different environments. Long ageing in the humid cellars underground makes for a rich and powerful style, whereas the drier attics emphasise fruit and bring a finer and more elegant finish to the Cognac.