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Long Lost Cognac: The story of Choloux
Ever experienced the instant regret of not going after something (or someone) that caught your eye and you didn’t do anything about it at the time? Like a romantic love story, Max encountered exactly that after wandering the French farmer’s market of Chalais 6 years ago. Only, it wasn’t a romantic interest that sparked his attention, but a market seller with an impressionable Cognac that, unbeknown at the time, would stay on his mind for several years to come. Uncover the anecdote of the man at the market stall and his long-lost Cognac as Max tells the story below.
The Story of Chalais Market and Daniel Choloux
Chalais Market is somewhat of a jewel in Charente, and as one of the only surviving farmer’s markets left of the Charente region, it remains a firm favorite of mine to visit as often as I get the chance. Quaint, beautiful and quintessentially French, the village of Chalais is well worth a visit if you’re ever in this part of France.
Around 6 years ago, I was wandering the market stalls in Chalais when I happened upon an old gentleman selling a singular bottle of Cognac on his stand. He invited me to taste the Cognac, and then… I went on with my day. Following this encounter, I couldn’t quite shake the memory of the distinct tasting experience I’d enjoyed at the market. So since our family estate is in the area, I made a mental note that one day, I’d go back to find this gentleman and his bottle again.
After keeping my eyes peeled for the elderly man, everytime I visited Chalais from there on out, I failed to find him and eventually accepted that he no longer worked on the market stall.
In my bid to one day find him, I continued to scout the Charente region, up until a few weeks ago, when I came across a remote estate. From the get-go, the vineyards at the entrance of the domaine indicated that I was at the right place and as I approached the estate I could see vinification equipment – another good sign.
And there he was, through sheer luck and chance, I’d found the man I’d been searching for all these years – on his estate with his wife by his side. Of course, the man did not remember this one-time encounter on the market where he’d regularly worked back then, but he confirmed it was indeed him in the photo that I’d taken all those years ago. Who is this mystery man, I hear you asking? His name is Daniel Choloux – the man behind Choloux Cognac and an impressive estate which over the past 15 years has doubled in size – now stretching over 30 hectares in total.
And now my newly found neighbour, just a twenty-minute drive from our family estate in Charente.
I was lucky enough to meet the younger generations of Choloux, who showed me the brand new distillery, it was then that I learned that this tight-knit family-run business do everything themselves on-site. After giving me a tour of the place and meeting his family members, who were just as kind he was, I was keen to re-discover the long lost Cognac that I’d been dreaming about.
I felt somewhat apprehensive after asking to taste Monsieur Choloux’s Cognac as he made modest jokes about his Cognac not being up to scratch. Yet like a scrumptious serving of humble pie, I can nevertheless confirm that the Choloux Cognac was exactly as I’d remembered and it remains just as wonderful as I’d thought it to be the first time I got to taste it.
A Bons Bois Cognac aged for 16 years with a strength of 40% – it is a deliciously mature offering that merits the energy I’d given to it all these years. So, without further ado, I’m over the moon to finally share it with you.
The Cognac & new Pineaus from Choloux
Choloux Grande Réserve Cognac
Please note: the label has undergone a slight modification; it now displays 'XO' instead of 'Grande Reserve.' Rest assured, the Cognac inside remains identical to what it was before.
Choloux Grande Réserve Cognac is a Bons Bois Cognac aged for 16 years with a strength of 40% – it is a deliciously mature offering.
Cognac Age: 16 Years
Growth Area: Bons Bois
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Nose: A smell of maturity. The aromas have a certain heft and a touch of rusticity. Dark, sweet, and spice-laden: dried fig, medjool dates, dark honeys, runny maple syrup. Inviting and dessert-like (tarte tatin), but overall darker in profile.
Palate: Presence of dry sweetness: dates, dried figs, medium strength honeys, maple syrup. Palate does not betray the nose. Pleasant mouthfeel, not overly rustic. Soft entry. Some edges stick out towards finish. Easy to sip, accessible alcohol level. A sincere Cognac.
Finish: The rustic side shows itself on finish, which is actually pleasant. Maple and date linger on palate. Short to medium finish.
This is my second bottle and it was even more enjoyable than the first. Lovely dark color, sweet but not overly so. Dried fruit abound, dates and figs, also honey and spice. I was new to Bon Bois cognac, but not any more. A very well made, great value cognac.
Being relatively new to trying different Cognacs, I don't know, and not sure I can tell, the various flavors that folks talk about. But here is what I like about this cognac. I love the color. It's a slightly dark amber. The smell (do you call it nose?) when I first open the bottle and pour it,...
I like it !
The word that comes to mind is "syrupy". It has a nice color as well. Yummy. Recommend.