Charles Collet Vieille Fine Bourgogne French Brandy
40% ABV, 700 ml
"With 40 hectares of vines across the finest vineyards of Chablis, Romain Collet makes wines from Chardonnay that express the inimitable character of terroir à la chablisienne. When his winemaking is finished for another year and the young wines are racked off to rest and mature, the tanks and barrels retain the fine lees of winemaking. The cloudy mixture of wine and yeast that make up the lees can’t be bottled for obvious reasons. Still, that’s good stuff, and it would be a shame to throw it out or feed it to farm animals. The traditional solution to this problem, is to distill the lees into brandy. Across the region in the cold fading light of fall, winemakers and farmworkers would gather in cheery groups around small column stills to get warm as they boil off the alcohol and aromatic components of the wine. The result is Fine de Bourgogne.
Romain and his family have always made Fine de Bourgogne. It’s as deep in the tradition of Chablis as the Collet family roots, which reach back to 1792. Usually, Romain keeps his Fine for family and friends. Yet, every once in a while, a barrel gets made that is so good it should be shared beyond the town of Chablis…it should be shared with the world! That’s the story of this barrel.
Charles Collet was Romain’s great-great grandfather, and the first Collet to make a mark in Chablis winemaking. It was many years after him that the domaine first started bottling their wine for market in 1954, but Charles set the template for quality and investing in vineyard land that formed the core of estate. Charles certainly made Fine de Bourgogne, so Romain felt it appropriate to name this Fine in honor of him.
This is a Vieille Fine de Bourgogne, which means it aged more than five years in oak barrel before bottling. As you can guess, the fruit source is fine lees of pure Chardonnay from 1er Cru and Grand Cru vineyards alike. The sole vintage source is 2015, which was one of those years vignerons dream of when the fruit comes in so easily and so healthy that all they have to do is get out of the way of the natural processes that will make the wine great. It’s a single cask of 288 bottles, that’s it. We asked Romain his thoughts and here is what he had to say: “The Vieille Fine is supple without any of the rusticity of a Marc. Pretty amber color with a bouquet of walnuts, hazelnuts, and dried fruits like apricot and fig. The palate is round and enveloped showing very nice length. It would do well in a small balloon-style glass that you can warm in your hands and release the beautiful fruity/nutty aromatics. You can also think of using it in any cocktail where a fine VSOP Cognac would be appropriate.”