This last year has really been all about find special moments and creating my own adventure. On a good year, I typically cross three continents and spend time in 10 – 15 countries. Some for work. Most for joy. You’d imagine it gets old, but the sense of wonder that comes from the novelty and mild discomfort never fades. It has been 12 months since I last crossed a border. And so we have dedicated our time to becoming local tourists. My daughter even started a kid’s guide to the Canary Islands and managed to get sponsored by the board of tourism. This group of islands off the coast of Africa is like a tiny continent onto itself. The thing is, if I can’t get on an airplane and travel, then maybe I can bring a bit of the world to me. So with the help of some friends, I’ve taken the train from my beloved Whiskyville and departed for terra incognita. Operation broaden my palate. Tokaji wines from Hungary. Ice Cider from Belgium. Schnapps from Austria. Rhum from Martinique. Armagnac from france. Grappa from Italy. Tonight.. Marc de Bourgogne.
As a lover of Armagnac, I’ve been curious about Marc, which is the common term in France and England for pomace brandy. Which means, make great wine, keep the scraps, ferment and distill the must / grape skins and tadah.. no waste. In some cases, deliciousness ensues. In many cases, here comes the huge splitting headache. I happen to catch a glowing review from Boozy for L’Heritier-Guyot Vieux Marc de Bourgogne VSOP (42.0%). He gave it a 93/100 pts which I translate to drinking from the bosom of the gods or licking up angels sweat. Call me intrigued.. we managed to find some on eBay going for a great price. I picked up two bottles including shipping for 50 euros. Low risk… and tons of excitement.
The bottle is from the 70’s based upon reading the tax strip tea leaves. The cork a touch spongy, but I got it out in one piece. On first pop, a light fruity and dusty bouquet hit my nose. Promising. Then I poured a glass.. and made my wife try first. I wish I had recorded her expression as she sniffed and tasted it. As it evolved from excited curiosity in slow motion to a dynamic expression of disgust. That panicked look of .. do I spit it out?!? But I’m on the bed and then I’d have to do the laundry. To be fair, we both thought it would land on the sweet side, not the old attic side.
The nose is juniper berries, fresh paint, lemon pith. Super bright notes. Then into Mordor’s closet. Old wood, dust and tortured souls. It’s a weird smell that holds potential, but also kinda worrying as it harkens to an experiment with unsweetened limoncello I was exposed to which ended well for no one involved.
The palate is well aligned with the nose. Juniper, a gentle layer of abstract grapeness and then a waft of lemon and acetone. Then wet cardboard, elmer’s glue, and wormwood. It’s surprisingly smooth and drinks much better than its proof. But let’s be honest, I feel like I was drinking an old timey medicinal tonic.
This Marc should be proscribed and used for various digestion problems such as loss of appetite, upset stomach, gall bladder disease, and intestinal spasms. And while we are at it, let’s use it to treat fever, liver disease, depression, muscle pain, memory loss and worm infections; to increase sexual desire; as a tonic; and to stimulate sweating.
We are talking early gin experiments while people are working on their recipe. I’m super glad for the experience, but nope, nope, nope. If boozy lived closer, he could have my bottle. On the house. If you happen to be into Marc and can point me towards something I would love (more fruit forward, less winchester mystery house), definitely ping me on Facebook.