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Here’s a radical thought: unstopper a sleek crystal decanter of your finest cognac, pour a modest amount of the precious nectar into a glass…and serve it up at eighteen degrees below zero!
Sound a bit strange? That’s exactly what happened on a bright, sunny summer day at the Chateau du Plessis in Cognac. The House of Camus sponsored a lunch at the family chateau for a visiting group of Cognac educators. The room was lovely, the table was pristine and the menu promised a delightful meal.
An interesting contraption sat by each plate, composed of a fragile cone glass resting in another glass receptacle partially filled with rock salt. A server appeared and poured from an ice-frosted crystal decanter into each glass. Our gracious host jovially informed us we would begin our lunch with the “Eighteen Below,” a glass of Camus Extra Elegance frozen to -18°C, sometimes referred to as the Cognac Trés Glacé
Why serve a cognac---and especially an aged, subtle and delicately perfumed cognac---in this way? Wouldn’t the extreme cold depress the very aromatics that define the spirit? Wouldn’t cognac be more appropriate in the traditional small snifter, or perhaps a small tulip?
Ah, but we are told, here in the heartland, the epicenter of fine cognac, on a warm sunny day, when the dogs are sleeping in the shade and the workers avoid the heat of the mid-day sun, what could be a more pleasant and soothing way to begin an elegant lunch than this touch of elegance, a chilled glass of impeccable cognac warming ever-so-slowly in the warmth of the day, releasing its concealed aromatic essence more with each tiny, measured cool sip.
With almost imperceptible languor the waft of orchard fruit and honeysuckle lifts seductively in the air, both fruit and flower evoking summer, followed ever so gently by a wisp of caramel sweetness and the lilt of hovering vanilla, altering with time to a whisper of dried fruits, soft baking spices and toasted hazelnuts. On the palate, the Extra goes through a transformation, from chill and refreshing to warm and satisfying, from simple and satisfying to amazingly complex and fascinating.
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