Growth area & soil: Grande Champagne
The Unfiltered Masterpiece: Navarre Vieille Réserve Cognac Navarre Cognac
is the producer on everybody’s lips - and with good reason. The Navarre Brut de Fût Vieille Réserve Grande Champagne Cognac is something of mastery. A blend of eaux-de-vie from the prestigious Premier Cru aged between 35 and 50 years old, it has undergone a particular process unlike most Cognacs: that is non-chill filtered, nor colored or boiséd. It is as it is, straight from the cask.
Jacky Navarre is a fourth generation distiller, and grows grapes on his eleven-acre estate in Gondeville. He is a master of distillation, and uses no water - he simply allows his Cognacs to reduce by natural evaporation.
This Vieille Réserve comes from the Grande Champagne, and has been distilled in his 30hl Charentais pot still. It is artisanal craft at its finest. The blend is made up of approximately 10% barrels from 1965, 40% from 1970-1975 and 50% 1978-1079. This is the real deal of Cognac prowess.
Navarre is one of the last purists of his kind, and the barrels are oxidized by the humidity of his cellar alone. Allowing nature to do the work, he produces Cognacs such as the Grande Champagne Vieille Reserve with an incredible depth of aromas, and undeniable rancio.
Presentation of the bottle
Bottled at its natural cask strength, which is 45% ABV. The bottle includes a wonderful illustration of the estate in Gondeville, and dark glass.
Fabulous, slightly more rustic alternative to Tesseron
I was looking for an alternative to Tesseron 53, which has doubled (at least) in price over the past decade or so. This was recommended on a few forums for similar reasons. Really big body, carries many of the caramel, nut, and spice flavours of Tesseron... albeit with a touch less refinement in texture and perhaps slightly less 'brightness' on the tongue. I've read that Navarre doesn't use boise or caramel, which is hugely surprising as the colour is quite dark and the style is one I associate with that approach. For the price, this is an absolute bargain and I'd recommend for both those seeing this style and those looking to create a varied cognac collection.
About Navarre Cognac
You could consider Jacky Navarre, fourth generation distiller of Cognac Navarre, to be one of the last remaining “purists” of his kind. Distilling from the eleven-acre estate in Gondeville of the Grande Champagne, he hand-harvests his fruit - a true artisanal method that is nowadays rare to find. This ancient Cognac house crafts truly traditional Cognac, with an average of 40-50 years for one blend alone. Amazingly, the Cognacs that emerge from this house have no water added - the barrels are oxidized over a long period by the humidity of the cellar alone. The result is a Cognac of unrivaled quality, aroma and depth. His rule is simple - “let nature do most of the work” and the rest will come.
Read more about Navarre Cognac