Malternative Belgium recently brought three new releases to the market at once, offering us a nice choice of Christmas gifts. One is a 1960, the other one a 1906 (!) and one is a Vallein-Tercinier XO with a bigger yield.
Cognac Chollet Lot 1960 ‘Le Bon Vivant’ – Fins Bois (46,3%, Malternative Belgium, 109 btl.)
Nose: a rich, fragrant and fruity style. Honeyed fruits and honeysuckle, mirabelles and hints of pollen. Yellow flowers, whiffs of jasmin as well. Some allspice in the background.
Mouth: more spices now. Mint and pepper, leading to cedar wood and a nice acidity of peaches and oranges. Hints of oak polish. Leafy notes and herbal tea towards the end.
Finish: medium to long, more on fruit tea now, always with minty and herbal undertones.
A classic malternative for those who like bright fruits. I’m always happy to find this profile. Spoiler: this is my favourite of this line-up, grab it if you still have a chance.
Next up is cognac from the well-known house Vallein-Tercinier. This XO release is composed with cognacs from different crus and different vintages, but the average age would be around 20 years.
Cognac Vallein-Tercinier XO ‘Bûche de Noël’ (44%, Malternative Belgium, 150 btl.)
Nose: a profile that I haven’t seen before in cognac. Much drier than the Chollet and hard to describe. Cigar boxes, Colombo spice, whiffs of smoke and something of black olive tapenade in the background. Lots of nutty notes and walnut cake. Some floral touches but hardly any fruits here.
Mouth: same thoughts, this is far from the fruity profile that we expect from VT. Quite sweet and nutty. Caramel sweetness and cinnamon rolls. Tobacco and walnut cake again. Orange peels. Sweetmint, hints of gingerbread.
Finish: not too long, still on sweet spices, chocolate mints and oriental pastries.
Interesting, it’s quite far from the style Vallein Tercinier became famous for but it’s interesting nonetheless. Darker, definitely sweeter and more wintery in a way. Good value for money, still available from Malternative Belgium.
Last but not least, the oldest cognac from Malternative Belgium so far, a 1906 vintage from René Rivière, where he also got his Borderies ‘Autour de 1913’. It has been stored in demijohn since 1983.
Cognac Héritage René Rivière Lot 1906 ‘La Fine Fleur’ (40,2%, Malternative Belgium, 44 btl.)
Nose: very soft and restrained, especially in a direct comparison with the others. A vague fruitiness, very ripe plums and apples, honeydew and fruit tarts. Nice hints of candied fruits as well, not just fresh ones. Dried flowers. Drops of caramel and tobacco. All good but it needs time.
Mouth: still fresh, certainly not tired, just a little thin and simple. Tobacco and orange sourness, cedar wood, a few raisins and lots of rooty / leafy notes. A little liquorice and herbal tea or Darjeeling. Rather drier towards the end but always in a smooth way.
Finish: not too long, I’m afraid. Still on sweet spices, chocolate mints and oriental pastries.
Really good, but lacking a bit of power. Great to see this freshness after so many years, but not my favourite release from Malternative so far.