Uncovering ancient treasures in Frapin’s Paradis Cellar

This summer FINE+RARE travelled to Cognac to attend the 11th edition of the “Les Parts des Anges” Cognac auction. This auction takes place every two years and is one of the true society highlights in the Cognac region. All the major Cognac houses contribute unique releases to the auction, with all the proceeds going to charity. This year the auction raised a staggering 265,700 for a local children’s and young adults’ charity.

The highest bid of the night was for the Martell Savoir Faire that went for €35,000, topping its estimate by an incredible €15,000!

Prior to the auction, each of the Cognac houses proudly exhibit their unique releases, often contained in spectacularly designed decanters and handcrafted display cases. Many of the Cognacs in the auction come from the houses’ “Paradis” cellar. The Paradis is the top ageing cellar in which only the very finest aged Cognacs are kept. Locked behind iron gates, the casks and demijohns that are deemed worthy of the Paradis cellar are often referred to as the family jewels. This tiny fraction of the total production is their most prized stock, reserved for generations. Remy Matin’s Louis XIII is an example of a Paradis cellar release. Hennessey even named their top release “Paradis”.

It was during the auction that we got talking to Patrice Piveteau, one of the most celebrated Cellar Masters in Cognac with 27 years’ experience at the historic Cognac house of Frapin. Throughout his career he has produced some of the finest premium Cognacs on the market including the Frapin 1880 (a Cognac partially made from wine from pre-phylloxera vines) and Plume (60-year-old blend). Following our encounter with Patrice we got the unorthodox invite to visit the Frapin Paradis cellar. Whilst the visit was unexpected, we had been in discussion with Frapin for some time in our quest to source an ancient barrel of Cognac. On this visit to the Paradis cellar, Patrice believed he had the perfect cask we were looking for, a single cask of Cognac that has matured for a minimum of 60 years.  According to Patrice this cask was in perfect condition, one of the finest single casks he has and one that didn’t require any additional blending, nor dilution – perfect and ready for release. “This is not only old, it is old and exceptional,” Patrice told us, describing how it was the epitome of the Frapin house style. “It’s the story of Frapin, 100% Grande Champagne, distillation on its lees, very rich and complex.”

On tasting it we were blown away by the extraordinary purity, intensity and balance of this Cognac, perfect straight from the cask. The dried fruits, dried prune, fig, apricot, chocolate and cigar flavours prevailed in its smooth and powerful mouth coating, long finish.

The Paradis cellar itself is a sight to behold. All Cognac producers are very proud of the mould in their cellars and the Frapin Paradis cellar is thick with it. This is an indicator of the humidity levels in the cellar and the long slow evaporation process that is an essential element to the long ageing of the finest Cognacs.

The Cognac house of Frapin has an incredible history. It has been producing Cognac since the 13th century and remains family owned until the present day. It also owns its own vineyards which is highly unusual in Cognac. The vineyards continue to surround the family Chateau Fontpinot in the Grand Champagne Grand Cru region of Cognac, where the highest quality grapes are produced. The quality of these vineyards is down to the chalk escarpment that is particular to this site and is said to produce the grapes with the longest ageing potential. Therefore nearly all the oldest cuvees that exist in any Cognac houses’ Paradis cellars will originate from Grand Champagne. The advantage Frapin has in owning its vineyard is to have absolute control of the process from growing the grapes, to fermenting, distilling and then ageing the Cognac.

The opportunity to bottle such a cask could not be missed. Watch this space for Série #1 from this incredible cask. Limited to just 30 bottles this will be a world exclusive FINE+RARE, Chai Paradis, Pierre Frapin bottling.

To register your interest for this exclusive release please email our Head of Spirits at: david.walters@frw.co.uk