Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

Cognac, I Like

Dr. Nestor Alonso II - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — My affair with the world of wines and cognac began nearly 25 years ago when Ijoined the La Chainedes Rotisseurs, a gourmet society. Five to seven different kindsof wine are paired with the food during a dinner. No water is servedexcept for medical reasons and dinner always ends with cognac and cigars.


I started reading books about alcohol beverages in order to learn more, and I found that brandy, cognac and armagnac are similar,all distilled spirits from fruits except that the latter two drinks are produced exclusively in the Cognac and Armagnac regions of France. The production of cognac, my favoritedrink, falls under the supervision of the Institut National de l’origine(INAO). Only specified grapes are fermented (Saint-Emilion, particularly) and it has to be distilled twice in specified copper pot stills, to producea drink with 70 percent alcohol content.

It is aged in oak barrels (Limousin or Tronçais only) for two years, minimum. Water and alcohol is lost while aging (3 percent a year), whichevent is called “La part des anges” or Angel’s share. This is evident by the presence of a particular black mold which grows in buildings where cognac is aged. Cognac is sold at 40 percent alcohol.

On November 28 last year, I was invited to the opening of Forth and Tay, a wine bar in Mabolo, Cebu City, owned by James Du Vivier, president and CEO. A week later, I was back for a Rémy Martin dinner with Joey Pineda, RémyCointreau Brands Phil. manager. While waiting for guests to arrive, candied fruits, nuts, chocolate and cookies were served.

The, afive-course dinner followed. The first course was Spiced Tuna Roulade, Orange Compote with Wasabi Cognac. New flavorswere to be dissected and the orange cooked with sugar syrup, wasabi and cognac gave the fish a strange yet spicy delicious taste. Soup was Cappuccino of Wild Mushroom and its taste was earthy.

The Rémy Martin brands – VSOP, Club, XO– were discussed in the lecture by Joey Pineda, whoemphasized on the merits of the Rémy Martin Club, which is marketed for the Asian region. The smell of the Club Cognac (nose) is made of vanilla, honey, jasmine and ripe fruits. Its taste (palate) is dry oak, nuts and dried fruits while its after taste (finish) is long, intense ripe apricots, oak and grappa. Joey Pineda pointed out that the nose of cognac is a combination of three notes: fruity, floral and the oaky.

Organic Mesclun Salad with Jamon Serrano, Manchego Cheese and Honey Lemon Dressing was served, followed by Ribeye Steak with Mushroom and Red Wine Sauce. There were so many flavors to study, like the salad with manchego giving it a caramel, nutty taste.I am thankful that 45 years ago, in Hong Kong, I began to taste and smell fruits and vegetables from temperate countries which were not available in Cebuthen.

The lovely dinner ended with the dessert, Peach Pear Orange Cointreau with Sabayon Sauce in Sugar Cage. Then, it was back, excuse me, to very seriousdrinkingand comparing the tastes of the three Rémy Martin brands for the rest of the evening.



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