In early June, Young’s Market Company of Northern California held a tasting at La Mar restaurant, giving the The Tasting Panel an opportunity to meet some of the faces behind some of their boutique spirits brands. One of the brands featured was Cognac Tesseron – see the full write-up below.
Tesseron Cognac is a new luxury cognac brand owned by the Tesseron family, which for more than a century has provided its old, rare stocks to the larger Cognac houses. The family holds one of the largest and finest collections of aged cognac reserves in the world and launched their own brand in 2003, releasing Cognacs only XO (which stands for extra old) and above in age. Made only in miniscule quantities, their Cognacs are incredibly rare and highly desirable.
The Tesseron Cognac house is located in Châteauneuf-sur-Charente and was founded by Abel Tesseron in 1905. Since then, the family business has been handed down through four generations. Abel’s son Guy Tesseron guided the company for more than 30 years before handing the reigns to his sons, Alfred and Gérard. Alfred and Gérard’s daughter Melanie are now the guardians of the family business and work hard to preserve and nurture its traditions. Alfred Tesseron also owns Château Pontet-Canet and Château Lafon-Rochet, two very highly regarded properties in Bordeaux.
The cellars at Tesseron date back to the 13th century and were once part of a crypt of a local church. Today they house one of the largest collections of old cognacs in demijohns in all of Cognac, in what is called the Paradis cellar at each Cognac house. Cognacs can only age up to a certain point in barrel before they start to lose their aromatic qualities; most cap out after about 75 years in wood, after which they are transferred to glass demijohns. Tesseron is one of the few estates to hold ancient stocks of great vintages that have not been diluted with water or changed in any way. As French law does not permit a vintage date to be used for Cognacs, their Lot numbers refers to the age of the Cognacs in the blend.
Tesseron is one of the few remaining houses to use the original three Cognac grape varieties: Ugni Blanc for roundness, Folle Blanche for finesse and Colombard for strength and depth. Most producers use only the high-yielding Ugni Blanc, as Colombard and Folle Blanche are much more difficult to grow. The grapes are virtually all sourced from the top two Cognac districts: Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne. All of Tesseron’s cognacs are aged exclusively in Limousin oak, a tough wood which has a fatter, looser grain than that of the more common Tronçais oak, thus giving more oxygen and finer tannins, as well as being better adapted to long-term maturation. The house also makes a point of aging all of its cognacs in humid rather than dry cellars, resulting in a more rounded flavor profile.
"It is about as ethereal a Cognac as anyone could ever hope to drink." 100 Points Robert Parker, on Lot 29 XO Exception
“One of the most exciting new players in this luxury cognac category is the family owned Tesseron. Tesseron began as a wholesaler, selling some of its extraordinary stock of aged cognacs to bigger firms for blending. Now, it has launched its own small but perfectly formed portfolio of numbered-lot cognacs.” John Stimpfig, Financial Times
“Gorgeous, fruity cognacs.” The Times
"Tesseron - The greatest of the lesser-known Cognacs." BBC Good Food