Cognac 1940s Frapin Reserve Speciale de la Maison Grande Champagne
Très Vieille, Presumed 1940's, Réserve spéciale, Grande Champagne, Bottled in the 1980's (presumed)
Provenance: Sotheby's Paris, 11/11/1998
The FRAPIN family has been established in the South West of France since 1270, initially as a family of wine-growers. They then became distillers and have continued in this tradition for 20 generations. The Grande Champagne region, Premier Grand Cru du Cognac was where the family chose to settle. They established their headquarters in the Fontpinot Castle at Segonzac. 10 May 1940: in the Second World War, the Battle of France, also known as the Fall of France, was the successful German invasion of France and the Low Countries, defeating primarily French forces.
Renowned throughout the world, the production of Cognac has been regulated by its very own AOC since 1909. Only liqueurs from eaux-de-vie made from crus from the controlled appellation area of Cognac can be labelled as such. This liqueur must be distilled and aged on-site in compliance with authorised techniques: double distillation in a copper Charentais still, ageing in oak barrels for a set minimum ageing period.
A good Cognac is subjected to a complex manufacturing process. It is never made from the eau-de-vie of a single cru, but from a `marriage' of eaux-de-vie that vary in age and cru - some as old as a hundred. To establish the age of a Cognac, only the number of years spent in oak casks or barrels are taken into account. As soon as an eau-de-vie is decanted into a glass recipient, it ceases to age. The longer it is left to age, the more a Cognac gains in complexity, fragrance, aromas and taste (spiced, pepper and cinnamon flavours).
Please note that only Cognacs made exclusively from Petite and Grande Champagne (50% minimum) can use the "Fine Champagne" appellation.
The Frapin family was one of the first in the region: The family used to produce wine and distill Cognac for more than twenty generations. This is quite remarkable.
The family is well connected in the whole area of Charente and Cognac: Today, 80 year old Max Henry Cointreau manages the Cognac house – he is part of the dynasty of Remy Cointreau. His wife Geneviève Renaud is the daughter of Marie Frapin. It is rather unusual that such a company remains family-run for such a long time.
Frapin owns their own wineyards and executes the whole process from grape to the finished bottle. The Cognacs of Frapin age at one quarter in new Limousin oak barrels and the rest of it in older casks.
Frapin offers all the Cognac qualities from VS on. Probably the best product is the Cuvée 1888 from very old eaux-de-vie of the Grande Champagne area. Connoisseurs find notes of the Folle Blanche grapes in it, which used to be a very present wine variety before the vine fretter (Viteus vitifolii) catastrophe.
Some Frapin Cognac still are offered as Château de Fontpinot today.