Everything you need to know about California brandy


“I spent a lot of time in Cognac and all over France visiting all these distilleries, observing the tradition of craftsmanship, how they made it and what made it unique,” ​​says Grant. “There are a lot of them, but what I felt and still feel is that cognac doesn’t fit the taste profile of consumers in a way that allows them to really enjoy it – after all, most cognacs are still consumed with coke.”

For Grant, it’s the differences in terroir and the freedom of production methods that set California brandy in a class of its own. “California’s warm climate is perfect for making a quality product,” he says. “Cognac, on the other hand, is a cold wine region, so their grapes are very acidic. I didn’t want to lose the acidity, but I also wanted to create something fruity.

Another contrast lies in the type of barrels used for the aging of the eau-de-vie. Omage is aged in charred and toasted American bourbon barrels as well as French barrels, while traditional cognacs only use French barrels. In Cognac, they only distill with pot stills, but Omage and Argonaut use a column in addition to pot stills, which Herzog says gives the brandy a livelier flavor, allowing it to retain the natural fruitiness of the brandy. wine.

Like most brandy labels, Omage is offered in three expressions in the traditional age grading system of VS (Very Special), VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale), and XO (Extra Old). Argonaut eschews tradition altogether with its own naming system, offering a 91-proof “Saloon Strength” brandy; “Speculator,” a blend of 4- and 19-year-old brandy stocks; “Fat Thumb”, brandy stocks aged 2 to 16; and a unique release called “The Claim” with rare brandy stocks aged 14 to 25 years.


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