PHOTO B: Pagès Verveine Velay Liqueur has essence of sweet flowery verbena
A delectable selection of aged fruit brandies and other spirits are the hallmark of the company, led by its President Jean-Pierre Cointreau. While his family divested from Remy Cointreau in 1990, he continues to hold the position of CEO of the Group as well as head up various French trade associations for the spirit industry.
Also specialized in the production of Cognac and brandy, Pages Vedrenne’s labels are available through Preiss Imports. We met up with Cointreau and his Import and Sales Director, Alain Royer, at Wally’s Wines and Spirits in West Los Angeles, for a taping of an upcoming show for the Wine Network.
PHOTO 1: The Wine Network camera is focused on Steve Wallace, owner of Wally’s Wines and Spirits in Westwood, CA
Eau de Vie de Marc
Distilled similarly to a grappa, “Marc” is an eau-de-vie produced from the pressing of the skins, peels and seeds of the grape. The remaining grapes are blended with alcohol and distilled a second time.
Each year, Pages Vedrenne buys Marcs from the Burgundy region’s famous Hospice de Beaune, which are then blended and matured in oak casks.
The history of Hospice de Beaune dates back to 1443, created as a hospital to care for the sick and wounded after the 100-Year War between the English and the French.
The hospital is still active today, and in the 500 years of its existence, it has been the recipient of treasures, including valuable land holdings. Some of its prime property is Grand Crus and Premier Cru vineyards in the Cote de Beaune. On the third Sunday of November, a public auction takes place, where its coveted wines are sold, with proceeds going back to the hospital.
Through Pages Vedrenne, a rare 1993 Eau de Vie de Marc from Les Hospices de Beaune has been made available. This Burgundian Marc is therefore made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. (SRP $90)
PHOTO C: HOSPICE DE BEAUNE BOTTLE (no caption)
For the first time in the U.S., a brandy from Burgundy has arrived. Made from the grapes of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, is “Vedrennes” brandy. The color of liquid gold, it offers a striking acidity and melts across the palate with rich lemon pudding and spice notes. (SRP $40)
Photo D: BURGUNDY BRANDY : no caption
Pages Vedrenne’s cellar holdings in Cognac are so vast, they own Cognac that dates back to the late 1800s. They have plans to import small lots of regional cognacs through Preiss Imports as well as a combination of master blends and single vintage Cognacs. These Cognacs will be identified through select lot numbers, which will classify the lots by years (i.e. 1905-1910).
“Some companies offer one single old project,” Jean Paul Cointreau points out, “but as far as a vast selection – this is the first of many.”
Located southeast of Bordeaux is the region of Armagnac, which is reputed to be older an area than Cognac. Its three main growing areas are Bas Armagnac, Tenareze and Haut Armagnac. Armagnac, like Cognac, is a place and the name of the brandy made there. Under French law, Cognac is from Cognac and Armagnac can only be referred to as such, from Armagnac.
Although the Bas Armagnac has traditionally been associated with the finest Armagnacs, it is Tenareze, with its chalky soils, that has recently been enjoying a revival.
Born and raised in Cognac, Alain Royer studied at the Sorbonne and received a degree in English and literature in Paris. For 10 years he worked with his family’s company in Cognac, only to leave in 1987 to start his own brand of Cognac called A. de Fussigny, which was later sold to a larger spirits conglomerate.
He has since joined forces with pages Vedrenne to develop the company’s sales in the U.S.
Royer resides in Bordeaux, where he is in charge of marketing an exceptional and unique Armagnac from Tenareze called Chateau du Busca. “The clay and limestone soil in Tenareze is exactly the same as in Cognac’s top growing regions of Grande Champagne where Ugni Blac (grapes) reign,” he stated. “Armagnac from Tenareze ages longer…and better.” The Armagnacs from the Chateau date back to the early 1950’s.
Smooth across the palate, the oak imparts sweet vanilla and peachy floral aromatics. Rich and round, this Armagnac is bold and delicate at the same time: such is the explanation of the word finesse.
Preiss Imports is associated with some of the finest, hand-crafted spirits in the world. Owner Henry Preiss founded the company in 1987 “on a shoestring.” Nineteen years later, the company has evolved into a premier specialty importer in the U.S., his portfolio available in 45 states through 100 distributors.
“We need nothing but to seek out very exceptional or unique products,” Preiss explains.
PHOTO “GROUP”: (left to right) Steve Wallace of Wally’s, Jean-Pierre Cointreau and Alain Royer of Pagès Védrenne, Henry Preiss and Patterson’s Meridith May