Spirits / Cognac / Jacques Estève
Cognac Jacques Esteve - Petite Champagne
Jacques Estève is the 6th-generation cognac producer on this estate in Celles, technically part of the Petite Champagne appellation. However, a small stream called the Né borders the wine-growing estate and is used as an administrative border between the two Charentes regions that delimit the vineyards of the Grande and Petite Champagne. This close proximity, identical subsoil and a unanimously recognized know-how generate Cognacs whose finesse is renowned within the region. We met Jacques back in way back in 2002 and he has since retired; his son Philippe (the 7th generation) presently cultivates the 49 hectares of vines and operates two stills during the early winter months.
The estate grows exclusively Ugni Blanc, a resistant grape whose ripening is boosted by the calcareous soils and oceanic influences of the area. This vineyard is a special site that produces a delicate, flowery spirit. The grapes are harvested, pressed and vinified using only highly traditional methods, and then enter one of the estate's two traditional Charentes stills to undergo a two-stage distillation (called á repasse).
This distillation starts in November and continues every day through the end of March. The distilled spirits are then put into oak barrels from the Limousin region in a damp underground cellar. Initially placed in new barrels, the spirits are quickly transferred to older casks with a 400-450-liter capacity (called "fûts roux") to carry on the long process of maturation made possible by the porosity of the wood. Alcohol vapors, "the Angel’s Share" (la Part des Anges in French), feed a fungus that blackens the white stones and the roofs in the area. Although this evaporation leads to losses of about 2% of Cognac stocks every year, it enhances the natural flavors of the eaux-de-vie to create the most prestigious of all spirits. The oldest eaux-de-vie of the estate lie in a separate, dark cellar, the "Paradis", in large glass demi-johns, protected from air.
These are then blended according to the family's intimate knowledge of each of their Cognacs and instincts about which years will best complement each other. In order to ensure a perfect harmony, this “marriage” will remain in oak barrels for at least 2 or 3 years before bottling. Because close to 50 years would be necessary for a cognac to reach 40% on its own, the eaux-de-vie must generally be reduced to the desired consumption degree by gradually adding distilled water to the young cognac. At Estève, however, they use a different method, as the age of his distilled alcohol stocks allows him to practice this reduction using only faibles, or eaux-de-vie they have already been reducing for several years.
While Philippe ages a part of his spirits in this way, the great majority is sold young to Hennessey and Remy Martin. Jacques stopped distilling himself in the 1990’s but still looks after his stock with utmost care. In fact, his entry level cognac has a minimum age of 25 years.
The Estèves are artisanal, independent producers in the Petite Champagne whom everyone in the Cognac region knows, likes and respects. Much of that esteem comes from their organization, hospitality and approachability. But the great majority of the reverence comes from their adherence to tradition and their marvelous collection of young, middle-aged and pre-phylloxera cognacs. These cognacs are highly sought after and always very limited, so we feel fortunate whenever we have any of them in stock.
Jacques Estève Cognac Hors d'Age NV
While we found (and still find) the 25-year old entry level Cognac to be wonderful, we were looking for something a bit younger to offer to our customers--something that could sell at a price point that would make it easy for people to buy. So after much discussion, we came up with a particular release that we called Hors d’Age which comes from the 2006 vintage alone. We requested that the blend be free of any of the permitted additives except water, which brings its strength down to 40% ABV.
Cognac Jacques Estève “Réserve Ancestrale” NV
Cognac Jacques Estève “Plénitude” NV
Jacques Estève Cognac “Sélection Coup de Coeur” NV
Cognac Jacques Estève “Très Vielles Réserve de la Famille” NV
Cognac Jacques Estève “Très Vieux Cognac de la Propriété” NV
**Note: not all of these Cognacs are currently available