Bertrand cognac collection – vs, vsop, napoleon, xo, pineau rose and blanc
As an esteemed, outstanding Canadian, I pride myself in my obtuse opinion of American politics(but secretly don’t know who our Canadian president is). The thing about American politics is that there are two sides and two sides only: America is a land of opportunity for everybody, or you shouldn’t be able to support a family on a minimum wage. I agree on both ends. Sometimes though, there seems to be extremes taken in sharing of our democracy, our rights, like when the two forces gathered and the aftermath was one American state banning foie gras.
In the American state of California(you may have heard the red hot chili peppers sing about it once), there was a bill started by a young man with a democratic mindset and went all the way to be passed by a republican governor. So, you see, we won’t be spending any time picking on one sides views of the lazy-underachiever-supporting, share-the-land mindset or the be-born-into-money, fall-ass-first-into-money, or suffer-like-the-rest-of-the-cattle mindset, or even the god-is-a-money-making-machine-to-support-worldwide-war or the god-is-garth-brooks-holding-a-shotgun-draped-in-an-american-flag-dripping-in-pharmacuetical-buyouts mindset. The bottom line is that some people were ticked off about the treatment of animals, and they shared the same mindset when it came to farming although their political views differ.
apparently I’ve adopted the label ‘foodie’ as an ingredient driven chef and passionate diner. I’ve also adopted the label, ‘asshole’ as stated in some articles I’ve read about foie, stating that anybody who eats or serves foie might as well consider themselves an asshole. Now, let’s get something straight: I am indeed an asshole. Maybe I’m an asshole because I’ve deliberately taught a young kid how to effectively and properly execute use of the ‘c’ word in a walmart before disappearing back into the electronics department or because I’ve stuck obscene amounts of dog shit under a neighbors’ car door handle so when they go to open their car they get a handful of warm poop, over and over, for months, but I am indeed not an asshole because I eat classically crafted artisanal ingredients which are centuries old.
So, why the hype met with equal amounts of hostility? What is foie gras?
Foie gras is the fattened liver of a duck or goose. How do we achieve that fattened liver? Well, here’s the controversial part and if you have any sort of weak stomach, stop reading this article and tuck your reading device under a couch for a couple days until you’re no longer afraid to approach the fact of where your food comes from, or just keep playing your candy crush(and stop inviting me to play candy crush. Damn it, if I were going to play I would have started playing a year ago, just like everybody else for fucks sake). Are you still here? Good. We’re going to talk about your groceries pretty soon, and if you’re counting, this is my fifth mention of groceries in all my cwe posts combined.
Ok. So you have a goose that lives its life roaming free in a field, picking at grass, shagging other geese and doing goose stuff. Sometime during the day that goose is gathered with his other goose buddies and they’re put into a holding cage, which is in a series of separate holding cages (the birds are still free to walk) and has a long tube inserted into the mouth of the bird. the tube goes all the way down the throat of the goose and handfuls of corn are funneled straight into the gooses stomach. The goose processes this huge amount of fatty, sweet grain which is multiples in size of what they normally consume on a regular day-to-day diet and then stores the fat in its liver, which in turn swells to ten times its original size, over a matter of weeks. at the time, the act is completely involuntary. Some see it to be cruel.
The tube inserted is long and somewhat wide. You can see it when it enters the gooses’ neck and travels down their throat. Then, there is a quick pulse of food which is inserted into the birds stomach. The whole process from insertion to withdrawal is roughly six seconds or less(place joke about your husbands sexual performance here. Nobody would see it coming, you funny person, you). The goose will not suffocate either, because unlike humans, the opening to their windpipe is at the base of their tongue which is not suppressed when the tube is inserted. The goose, seemingly perturbed then runs off to the other side of the holding cage until the rest of the geese are fed and then released back into the field to continue practicing their obnoxious, unsynchronized honking. The insertion of the tube is done by a professional who has received training who will not damage the gooses’ throat, or internal organs. You see, this is the farmer’s lifeblood, his flock. The way he treats his animals will reflect on the quality of the product or even if the farm will be able to continue producing legally in the future and sustain itself. Keeping the animals safe and happy is the farmer’s priority. So, there’s my observation about force-feeding or gavage as I have read in many different articles and have seen in many pro and anti foie films.
So, what about the gooses’ health? Their liver is growing ten times its size! That cannot be healthy. In short, having a liver swollen ten times its size is not healthy over a long term. Since the geese are bred to be slaughtered for our consumption, they won’t be living through the ill effects that a swollen liver can induce. Various veterinarians have to inspect foie farms and make sure they are living comfortably and a suitable lifestyle. in extreme cases, usually tied in with the mistreatment of animals, do the geese show any distress from the fatty liver. Usually it is common in its final day or two before slaughter; they may find it difficult to walk. This is only for a period of 24 hours. Any longer would be considered cruelty by trained veterinarians.
Here’s an interesting fact; quite common in the wild, geese will gorge on grains and voluntarily swell their own liver, which is where they naturally store fat to continue flying long journeys to find a warmer climate and irritate golfers.
So, now we know about foie, but we still have to cover the California ban of foie and the debauched nature of its lift on the ban.
There was a young man who heard of the method to create foie and didn’t like what he was hearing, so he picked up and traveled to the only foie farm in the entire state of California and trespassed armed with a video camera and brought living proof to the world of foie gras and its insanely inhumane treatment.
What the man taped was horrific: the geese were penned up 10 – 12 geese in a holding pen. Some were too fat to walk and were being bitten by rats who fed off the gooses’ flesh. They sat in grated pens and defecated loose stool which fell through or hung on the grating. The whole scene was a nightmare. So, he took this tape and sent it to his local member of parliament, who met up with some really rich doctor friends, then some really rich lawyer friends, some other really rich 1% governor guy who desperately needed to be liked in office and together with a lot of funding, they created a vision of a modern day auschwitz out of this farm, which in turn reflected on all foie production worldwide to be a present day dacau.
Yes the only foie farm in california was the worst representation of a foie farm that there could have ever been. It was a cruel, inhumane way to raise those poor animals, living in their own filth. The thing was, the foie gras ban was placed mostly because of the impressions given by the conditions of the farm in which they were treated and held and based on sanitary conditions. The inspectors that come through these farms don’t always spend as much time as they need, and things can continue to decline.
The force-feeding of geese was also outlawed, which was described as cruel. Having watch graphic video of several geese in such poor health (due to mistreatment) they could not defend themselves from intruding varmint such as rats (which are not supposed to be in a sanitary poultry farm) and so the viewers found themselves so repulsed by the lack of condition they shut down the entire foie operation, in its entirety.
May I remind you this was the only impression they had of foie raising, and it was done in the least sanitary of conditions. Although foie has been banned in 12 other countries worldwide, some other countries, such as france, celebrate and embrace the raising of foie. Besides, when you take a good look into the farms that supply our fast food joints and grocery stores(6) you will see for yourself that mass rearing and butchering of cattle is a cringe worthy sight, that can easily induce nightmares.
In 2004 the foie ban was placed. It prohibited the production or sale of foie gras. Just recently it was lifted with some particular laws still grounding the law. In 2015 foie can be brought and served in a restaurant as long as people are not asked to buy it. Example being; buy a glass of wine, get a small plate of foie, free of charge, or buy a bowl of ramen, and pay a suggested donation while you receive a piece of foie.
Now before we conclude our happy little article about the circle of life and you leave with a certain solidified opinion of if you should eat foie or not, let me point out a couple things. let’s talk about some groups of animal activists that seem it fit to depict our legal rights.
You’re either pro foie or anti foie. You will either eat it or you won’t. There’s no shame in sitting on either side of the fence. The pro foie guys are the everyday chefs that serve foie to everyday customers looking to indulge on one of foods greatest gifts. When foie was prohibited, the pro foie guys went as extreme as they could go and they joined together to create underground supper clubs, or illegal dining vendors. This seems kind of like the Volstead act of 1920 -1933 doesn’t it?
The anti foie people, though, from my perspective are the guys who will not support the raising or serving or eating of foie. That’s fine. I’m so cool with that. But then theres the extremist’s view on foie. These are the jerks that gather in large groups in front of your favourite restaurant, yelling into a bullhorn. These are the assholes that coerce you to sign petitions. These are the scum that are starting to introduce a vegan agenda against the farming of cattle and trying to steal our right to eat meat. These are the fucking bastards that firebomb independently owned restaurants or film inside a chefs private home and take videos of their wife and photograph their children leaving school and then send that footage to the chef saying that if they don’t stop serving foie, their wife and child will be harmed. Just to reiterate; if the chefs threatened didn’t stop serving foie gras – a legal piece of food in their own establishment, their restaurant would be burned, or their family, including small children would be physically hurt.
That is in the extreme cases though. Why don’t we talk about YOUR meal now.
In the everyday treatment of how your meal is raised, we find that chickens are mass bred and held in dirty, filthy pens and they eat their own shit, which is why they carry salmonella. Chickens beaks are clipped off and they are stuck in such clustered living conditions they don’t grow feathers. Cows are one of the world’s leading pollution problems, due to methane let into the atmosphere (yes, cow farts). Pigs immediately have their tail cut off with a box cutter and are castrated once born. Veal is kept in a box in which prohibits the movement or exercise of the baby cow and they grow up unable to use their legs. That, reader, is the unnatural, everyday treatment of your north american meal. Once you see with your own eyes how your meal is raised its ok to think about personal vegetarianism. I thought about it myself.
The decision here is not pro or anti foie, its if mass produced food is ok. I like food, don’t get me wrong, I love meat and I realize that knowing what I know about the raising of my meal, im going to have a lot to explain at the pearly gates when I die. What’s happened is a self entitled, well-to-do faction is focused on a ‘here and now’ agenda aiming to make foie gras an unnecessary target.
But, enough of the land of the free.
In france, I have never discovered this altogether ‘inhumane treatment’ of any animal or future ingredient. Its never been called that. Its always called ‘food’. All I ever witnessed was love for every item raised for food. To embrace it and make it a lifestyle. food is all the French think about, it is their passion. You will never hear about mishandling of food in france. They eat and share fine wine and cognac. Family is raised around a farmers table of their harvest. This representation from Bertrand is of no exception.
Bertrand, like foie in france is a family owned and run establishment which focuses on a natural method to produce incredible fare. Here we discuss Bertrand cognac.
Traditional wine bottle with a rectangular tan label. Topped with a windmill insignia. Dark brown print keeps the focal point on the product, not the presentation.
Young spirit which reminds me of young barley whisky in aroma. Quite a lot of fresh white wine, verjus, green apple and blossoms. Fairly ghostly with slightest hints of oaking and vanilla. Ginger and very slight anise seed.
Fresh, spicy, peppery wine with squeezed ginger. Although fresh, this by far surpasses the regulatory minimum of aging, which gives a smooth palate with a lush mouthfeel. Floral, bright and quietly untamed. yellow raisins.
Fruity and spicy, initial finish is quick, but there is an enjoyable peppery finish that lasts.
My first vs grade cognac. Quite pleasant for a mixing grade spirit. this gets smoother with more airing, comparable to some lower budget vsop. Aged between 5 – 8 years, mostly in barrels that are on their second fill.
Wine, oak and flowers at first glance. Airing leads to a sherry note and some dense cake aromas. Roasted nuts and dusty leather with some citrus pith. Verjus and a light chalk dust. Bright notes and a waft of banana.
Thin, oily start with some odd juicy fruit notes, but mostly oak spices. Enjoyable sip. Grapes, fig, cherry, wood and vanilla are quite apparent. not yet complex, but shows notes of cocoa, coffee and building of rancio and umami. Brown soda reminiscent of brio.
Orange soda effervescent with a touch of ginger. Sets around 6 minutes.
This is aged very far past its lawful minimum requirements. Legally required to be aged for at least 4 years in 2015, this is aged between 10 – 15 years. Top notch mixer, surprising quality for a sip.
Building of woodiness, with a touch of brightness rounding out and turning down. Dark wine and cherries, abundant leather. Some cloves, cassia and red raisins. Cocoa and roasted nuts are starting to appear.
Honey spiked with ginger and pepper. Little cherry and peach with cassis. Further building of nuts and spice.
The finish is all about dark notes – coffee, nuts, toffee, prunes.
Very calm compared to the vs and vsop. Improving further still. Ages sit between 15 – 20 years in limousine oak.
Dark cocoa, heavy old leather and dank. Very heavy and weighted. Stewed fruit, coffee, cocoa. the bright fruits are still present, but far more tame. Cake and brown soda.
Currant lozenges or cough drops to start. The palate is grounded by black coffee and roasted nuts. Exciting play of wood and fruit. Brown spices, nutmeg, slight ginger, mahogany and notes of cola.
Effervescent, clean and gingery with the same currant lozenge from the palate. Baking spice and honey, silky smooth. Quick finish lasting no more than 10 minutes. Smooth as juice.
This needs air. Generous airing is the sacrifice that this deserves to be appreciated. Don’t pour this if you can’t wait at least half an hour for your first sip. That being said, you will be rewarded for patience, punished for rushing. Aged between 30 – 35 years.
This xo when tasted in succession with the rest of the family hits like a shovel on the head. It’s a loud, thick ‘blub’ of dark spice and dankness. Barrel takes a lot of the weight here. Very tasty stuff.
Candied apple and white grapes dipped in caramel. Kids white grape juice with a little something guilty with slight influence of oak. This reminds me of a late harvest wine which has been heavily oaked.
Sweet and sour, playfull presentation of grape juice with a little something adult. Slight pepper, apples and oranges. A sprig of garden herbs. A glimpse of toffee before dropping off in a short finish.
Fun. Tasty liqueur.
Chambord. Light and fruity with little to no alcoholic burn. Stone fruits forward. Cherry, blackberry, currant, fig and grape skin. Orange peel, vanilla and some lilacs if you look behind the veil. Very sweet smelling.
Juice. A bit thin, but filled with cranapple juice, berries and currants. Slight touch of barrel influence. Smallest trace of spirit makes you remember this is adult juice. Red raisins. Quick exit.
A guilty pleasure.
Pineau is a classic French blend of juice crafted from wine grapes and small amounts of cognac, which is further aged in oak barrels. It is a very light, but very fruit forward liqueur. Enjoy neat or over ice if you prefer. The pinea rose contains a blend of merlot cabernet grape juice, which gives its red fruit profile.
The Bertrand house, from what I have gathered puts their focus on length of aging and barrel use to create their flavours. Bertrand cognac is known to distill their wine to a higher abv before filling their barrels, which creates a slightly less fruity profile, but a more barrel influenced profile, rich in coffee, cocoa and nuts.
When crafting the cognac, they first age all cognacs in virgin casks for 6 – 12 months for an aggressive aging period before switching to second fill casks to put away for anywhere from 5 – 15 years. The older cognacs that are to be aged a long time are poured into a barrel that has been filled and emptied twice, called a third fill barrel. This barrel has very little aggressive tannin in the wood, so it lends a long smooth, oaky, nutty, toffee, profile.
Bertrand cognac is a family established and run business.