The beauty of California brandy lies in the current flexibility of guidelines. Distillers are able to experiment with different types of casks, grapes, distillation types etc. European spirits are considered luxurious and the beauty lies in their strict guidelines crafted for particular spirits which have a set frame of classic combinations. These strict guidelines are the reason behind the perfection & luxury of European spirits whereas spirits from America especially brandy doesn’t have a particular code or frame which allows distillers to come up with new & unique combinations every now and then. This article is all about a California based brandy distiller – ‘Germain-Robin’ and their luscious range of spirits which are titled – ‘The Ultimate expression of California Brandy’.
The Germain-Robin story:
The Ukiah, California based distillery was found in the year 1982 by Ansley J. Coale Jr. & Hubert Germain-Robin. The story of the foundation can be titled as a ‘lucky-meet’ between the two founders, Ansley Coale was driving along the Highway 101 of San Francisco and he picked up Germain-Robin who was hitchhiking through California. Germain-Robin’s family used to produce Cognac before they sold their ‘Jules & Robin Company’ to Martell due to which Germain-Robin left the company. The founders created a California brandy that broke out from the constraints of Cognac. Traditional albemic Cognac stills were used but with a twist: non-traditional varieties of California grapes like Pinot Noir, Riesling, Semillon etc. were used for the production of this new brandy.
Embracing the rich tradition of hand-distillation while harnessing the potential of California wine, we set a new standard of excellence in brandy that has been recognized worldwide. Germain-Robin continues that tradition today – advancing the art of fine California Brandy into a new era.– Germain-Robin.
Germain-Robin constantly paved a way for California to be associated with brandy. In 2017, Germain-Robin joined the E&J Gallo spirits family, working alongside Master Distiller David Warter.
At Germain-Robin we pride ourselves on delivering the most exquisite brandy the only way we know how – executed with the highest quality standards we have celebrated since our inception.– Germain-Robin
The process behind perfection:
Before we see the amazing trio of California brandy by Germain-Robin, let’s just have a look at why these brandies are increasingly becoming popular worldwide.
- Grapes – This is a point that definitely differentiates Germain-Robin from other brandy makers. The use of non-traditional varieties like Pinot Noir, Riesling, Viognier, Sémillon and Colombard result in a smooth character and unrivaled flavor profile.
- Distillation – Fresh California wine is distilled twice exclusively on Prulho alembic pot stills at McCall Distillery. ‘These vintage manually-operated stills allow the distillers to mimic the eight-hour heating curve of wood-fired stills of the 1850s’. The end result of distillation is a clear, colorless brandy also known as ‘grape eau de vie’ which has a perfect balance of rich flavor and delicacy.
- Aging & Blending – Air-dried Vicard barrels from Limousin region of France are used for aging ‘the brandy eau de vie’. These barrels are monitored regularly and the blending process starts once the spirit reaches peak character and integrated flavors.
- Hand-Bottling – At Germain-Robin, their perfectly blended brandy is bottled by hand which ensures the highest quality in each bottle.
The trio of Californian expression:
Germain-Robin is the ultimate expression of California Brandy, based on the highest standards in spirits making and decades of innovation in pursuit of the best spirits possible.– Germain Robin
- Germain-Robin Brandy – The base of this brandy consists of California-grown Colombard grapes. Distilled exclusively in Pruhlo Charentais Pot Stills and aged in Limousin Oak Barrels, Germain-Robin highlights the flavors that make California Brandy one of the most unique expressions in the world of brandy. Germain-Robin is met with a nose of oak spice and fruit. The fruit-forward notes of apple and pear are lightly accented with honeysuckle and cherry blossom, giving way to a rich apricot and peach flavor. Well-integrated toasted oak gives light accents of cinnamon and brown sugar. The rich full mouthfeel lingers after the finish in this balanced blend.
- Germain-Robin Single Barrel Pinot Noir – This expression is a tribute to the original founder’s contribution in fine brandy making. Double distilled in Prulho Charentais pot stills in 2001 and aged 19 years in heirloom Limousin Oak barrels, this single barrel brandy made from Anderson Valley, Mendocino California grown Pinot Noir grapes has an excellent and exceptional character which made Hubert Germain-Robin remark , “It’s the best I’ve ever seen,”. Single Barrel Pinot Noir brandy captures the fruit character of the Pinot Noir grape on both the nose and the palate. Aromas of barrel spice give way to dried cherry and apricot, with a layer of tobacco, and hints of coffee. On the palate, there’s weight, boldness, and depth. Beyond fruit are earthy flavors of oak and a touch of leather that instantly give way to a bright red cherry finish.
- Germain-Robin Xo Brandy – This brandy highlights the characteristics of California-grown Pinot Noir grapes. Distilled exclusively in Pruhlo Charentais Pot Stills and aged in Limousin Oak Barrels, this expression stands out as an icon for Germain-Robin. The high-quality California wine grapes in Germain-Robin XO showcase unique flavors and layered textures. The signature grape, Pinot Noir, provides a dark cherry character and a rich silky mouthfeel. Colombard distillate adds a fresh apple character while Sémillon provides richness with peach and apricot notes. The balance of both fruit and oak flavors is unique to Germain-Robin XO. The vanilla and toast flavors from the French oak complement the fruit which creates layers of complexity that only can be found from sourcing great fruit. The fermentation and distillation are driven with the goal of emphasizing fruit and mouthfeel and then paired with ageing in select Limousin Oak Barrels. Texturally, the brandy is extremely smooth and has an incredibly long finish.
“Germain-Robin brandies make one wonder why this isn’t a daily beverage. It’s an ideal after-dinner drink, served at room temperature in a brandy snifter. You can mix it, as well, but don’t. This stuff is too good to disguise with ancillary flavors and aromas.”– Kim Westerman, Forbes.
For more information, visit their official website