Camus Return To Saint-Aulaye Cognac

71 /100
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Cognac age
Vintage

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Growth area
Bois Ordinaires

Learn more about the different Cognac growth areas

Bottle size
700ml
ABV
43%
Vintage year
2016
Grape Varieties
Colombard
Brand
Camus Cognac
$ 107
excl. TAX excl. shipping

Tasting review

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Color: Shiny golden with amber highlights

Palate: Fragrant fruity notes of pear, pineapple and a touch of spice.

Nose: Warm and lavish vanilla aromas with hints of ginger and walnut.

Awards

  • The Cognac Masters - 2021 - Gold

Growth area & soil: Bois Ordinaires

Bois Ordinaires

Bois Ordinaires

Description

CAMUS Return To Saint-Aulaye Cognac: Single-Cru, Single-Varietal Cognac from the last vineyards of Dordogne.

Camus Return To Saint-Aulaye is a small-batch Cognac produced exclusively from Colombard grapes, selected from the very last vineyards of Dordogne used to make Cognac. Distilled in 206, this Cognac was bottled at an ABV of 43% on the 4th year of aging and is therefore classified as a VSOP.

With the vineyards grown on a small pocket of land, located in the village of Saint-Aulaye, this Cognac is the final product of decades worth of hard work and determination. With help from the village council of Saint-Aulaye, the house of Camus set out to restore the forgotten area - on the verge of dying out completely from the world of Cognac production. The story of Camus Return To Saint-Aulaye all starts with the vigorous search for local historical archives to source the region’s original production tradition dating back to the nineteenth century. This task enabled a meticulous selection of areas to plant new vines according to the geological nature of the land and its effect on the aromatic profile of the eventual eaux-de-vie to be produced.

Camus is a Cognac house that takes pride in embracing traditional strengths whilst remaining at the forefront of science in striving to reach new levels of intensity in the aromas of their Cognacs. Operating since 1863, the house has succeeded in upholding strong family values across five generations - all in quest of producing the utmost refinement when it comes to the production of Cognac. With a clear picture in mind of future Cognac production, the Saint-Aulaye village council partnered up with Maison Camus in order to craft a Cognac that brings life to the true essence of the forgotten terroir.

Presentation of the bottle

To encapsulate all the key elements of this uniquely produced Cognac, Return To Saint-Aulaye reveals highly symbolic visual features throughout its presentation. Displayed in an elegant cylindrical bottle, the label work is inspired by the iconic Dordogne landscape - elements of nature reminiscent of the vineyard mix with the architectural symbols of the region. Meanwhile, the sensory aspects are brought to life through warm and welcoming colors. The texts and drawings are underlined by an elegant golden thread that lights up the entire bottle, inflicting a touch of elegance in light of the Cognac inside. The premium cardboard box broadens the gaze on the Dordogne terroir, illustrating the journey through the vineyards and the birth of this one-of-a-kind Cognac.

How to enjoy

Camus Return To Saint-Aulaye is best enjoyed neat or on the rocks. For an aperitif with class and style, this Cognac pairs exquisitely with foie-gras croutons. Likewise, its warm notes of vanilla, ginger and walnut serve this Cognac well as a delicious after-dinner tipple and accompaniment to dessert; pair with creme brulee for a tasting of pure pleasure.

Location of the Dordogne in France


Landscape of the Dordogne

The story behind the Cognac

Crafted purely from Colombard grapes grown on a small 1.5-hectare parcel in the village of Saint-Aulaye, RETURN TO SAINT-AULAYE is the outcome of a decades- long project to rediscover and protect a unique terroir because, although geographically part of the Cognac AOC ever since it was first mapped out, the historical tradition of Cognac-making was on the verge of disappearing from this area.

The idea behind this Cognac comes from a synergy between the House of CAMUS and the village council of Saint-Aulaye. This latter started to scour – at the end of the 90s – local historical archives to find authoritative sources on the region’s Cognac producing tradition, which dated back to the nineteenth century. This task enabled a meticulous selection of areas to plant new vines, according to the geological nature of the land and the way this would have affected the aromatic profile of the final distillate.

Once the vineyards became productive, the council decided to entrust the Cognac production to Camus. A further research was conducted by the Camus team, leading to the revival of certain traditional practices, such as using barrels made with wood from the local Double forest, chosen for the highly aromatic maturation they offered.

After years of study, development and ageing, the final blend of the 2016 vintage is brought to us now as a limited edition.

Return to Saint-Aulaye truly represents a celebration of this rich terroir and a unique opportunity to explore an expression of the Cognac Appellation that is atypical, and yet rooted in history.

The Terroir and its History

The Dordogne department – geographically third largest in Metropolitan France - owes its name to the river that crosses its beautiful hilly landscape. The region is historically associated with the ancient Count of Périgord and flourished under Charlemagne.

It still evokes in the collective mind today refined gastronomy and picturesque medieval architecture. Nestled between rural areas of pine forests and truffle farms, the village of Saint-Aulaye is a small architectural jewel in the Périgord landscape, built as a bastide in 1288. It still retains the typical elements of a medieval fortified city, with its castle made of limestone, the remains of the city walls and the communal oven.

The production of Cognac in this area has distant origins and is documented for the first time in the topographic maps of Pierre de Belleyme - dating back to 1785 - which attest to the presence of large areas dedicated to the cultivation of the vine in the terraced areas surrounding the fortified city. As further evidence, the village of Saint- Aulaye has appeared in the delimited Cognac production area since 1909, even before the AOC was made official in 1936.

Landscape of the Dordogne

The relationship between Saint-Aulaye and Camus Cognac

The progressive change in the agricultural landscape of the Dordogne region led to a gradual decline in Cognac production towards the middle of the last century, to the point where it was running the risk of disappearing entirely. By the early 90s, the total surface planted with vineyards for Cognac in Dordogne was reduced by more than 90%, which had a severe impact on the survival of its production in this specific area.

In 1999, the Saint-Aulaye Council decided to take action. Local institutions launched a mapping of the most suitable areas and supported the replanting of a 1.5-hectare plot of Colombard - the rarest among the grape varieties allowed in the Cognac Appellation due to its low yield, but at the same time one of the most sought after, due to its aromatic qualities.

With a clear picture in mind of the future Cognac production, the Saint-Aulaye village Council turned to Camus as the perfect partner. Thanks to the brand’s credentials on research and innovation in the category, Camus would craft a Cognac to bring to life the real essence of the terroir.

The Production Process

The 2016 vintage was particularly generous from an aromatic point of view: the vinification stage happened in September - with fermentation into alcohol lasting about a week – producing a fragrant wine, with a high concentration of isoamyl acetate, and highlighting notes of candy, pear and banana. Distillation took place in November without waiting for malolactic fermentation to happen and thus preserving a maximum concentration of aromas into the wine.

As per Camus' tradition, wines were distilled on the lees. The selection of the heads during the second distillation was limited to 10 liters with high aromatic potential.

After distillation, the eaux-de-vie matured for four years in French barrels made of fine-grained local oak from the Double forest surrounding the Saint-Aulaye village. Half of the barrels were new, and half were second-fill, in order to obtain subtle woody aromas and preserve the aromatic freshness of the Cognac. During the whole maturation process, the barrels laid in the tower of the Saint-Aulaye castle, in a damp atmosphere.

About Camus Cognac

Since 1863, five generations of the Camus family have cultivated a single-minded passion for crafting great Cognac with their own style. Laid across 180 hectares in the smallest and rarest AOC cru - the Borderies - the Camus family has always been deeply involved in winemaking and distilling. It is this unbreakable bond between the land, the traditions and the people who live on it that helps them craft superb Cognacs. Today, it is Cyril Camus who is the bearer of all family tradition and oversees the undisputed quality of Camus Cognac. Export development and product development remain at the top, with a passion for innovation. Cyril Camus has entirely modernized the Cognac house’s interiors, relying on a fresh new take on Cognac for the new century. Instead of leather, wood and velvet in shades of brown, he opts for light colors and a combination of tradition and modern design.

Read more: History, News and Interesting Camus Facts

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