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Well, you would have to figure that anyone who has been doing something since 1863 just might be doing it right. The Camus family has been making their fine cognacs for over 150 years and that tradition has been carefully maintained through 5 generations ever since Jean-Baptiste Camus started the whole thing way back then.

About 3 years ago, these good folks sent me their VSOP Elegance and XO Elegance to taste drive. If you would like to read what I thought of them along with a bit of cognac history and lore, click here.

Not only have they kept the old traditions alive, they have expanded their horizons to include the vineyards of the Ile de Re, which is an island off the west coast of France in the Charente-Maritime department. Situated in the Bois a Terroirs cru, the island is the most westerly region of the Cognac appellation. And to take matters further they have developed three different expressions of this island’s Cognacs: Ile de Re Fine Island cognac, double matured cognac and Cliffside cellar cognac. Let’s see what they’re all about.

CAMUS ILE DE RE FINE ISLAND RANGE

The Camus Ile de Re Fine Island cognac is harvested from grapes grown in the island’s mild climate and have a naturally higher iodine content than those harvested on the mainland. These grapes are distilled on the lees to enhance their flavor and aged in an extremely damp cellar in toasted oak barrels. Let’s see how that comes out. The nose is a delicate balance of honey, vanilla, smoke and oak with a spice note that makes it quite interesting. The palate is spicy and oaky with just a touch of smoke, followed by a floral flavor and then the vanilla backed by the honey. The finish is spicy and oaky and medium in length. It’s not a bad sipper but I do believe it has the presence to mix it up well with anything you might throw at it and retain its flavor and depth.

The Camus Ile de Re Double Matured is first aged on the Ile de Re in a damp cellar and then transported to Cognac and placed in very old toasted barrels to enhance the flavor and add a smoky taste. This nose is subtle and sweet without any of the spice notes of the 1st cognac. The oakiness is also very laid back and there is the barest hint of char. This is a real palate pleasing cognac that is layered with honey and botanical notes and is both sweet and pleasantly spicy. The finish is shorter than the first cognac and smoother and less spicy but still has intriguing depth.

The Camus Ile de Re Cliffside Cellar cognac receives a double aging on the island, first in barrels with light tannins, and for the second aging, its placed within the Fort de La Pree, a historic monument constructed in 1626 overlooking the ocean. Well, well I do really get a salty sense of the ocean in this nose and a bit more oakiness and smoke; however, the other aromas are much more subtle yet more complex than the first 2 cognacs. The spice notes are so laid back they are barely discernible. The palate pleases with delicate flavors of vanilla and smoke and citrus richly layered with sweet floral flavors. The finish is delicate but layered with flavors that seem to appear one after the other in a layered little dance in my mouth. I like this one the best of the three because it has lots of levels of delicate flavors that really play nice together.

Don’t get me wrong, all three of these are wonderful in their own right. The beauty of cognac in general is that with the diversity of wonderful tastes, you can always find something that will please your palate – unless you’re like me and stock 20 different cognacs because I don’t or can’t or refuse to make up my mind about which I like best. The one I like best any evening is the one that compliments my dinner, my mood, my need and the company I am keeping and is complex enough or simple enough to accommodate all those requirements. I’ll be adding these to my bar simply because I have not tasted anything like them before. I have to admit that after 150 years these guys have got it down pat.

These delightful cognacs are appropriately priced, with the amount varying quite a bit by seller, with 750 ml bottles coming in at around: Ile de Re Double Matured cognac, $66.00, Ile de Re Cliffside Cellar, $90.00, Ile de Re Fine Island cognac, $55.00 .

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By George Brozowski

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