When my attention was brought to this lovely project called ‚Grape of the Art‘ undertaken by a German – or Swabian, for precision – group of friends, I immediately liked the idea. Robert Bauer, Oliver Gerhardt, Sascha Junkert, Christian Maier and Leonard Stumpf are real spirit enthusiasts with experience and some also have interesting websites like the Rum X Community, Armagnac.de or Whisky Digest. Check them out: https://www.grapeoftheart.com/
Just like us, they want to share their passion for fine grape juice, esp. Armagnac, with the world and with whisky connoisseurs in particular. They sampled, traveled and learned that only few products match their expectations. So they wanted to change that and import themselves. They aim for unaltered and undiluted single casks of high quality, a road less traveled but so rewarding. The boys don’t limit themselves to Armagnacs only as their third release is a Saint Lucia Rum.
Let’s try their first releases:
Armagnac Domaine Le Frêche 13 y,o, GotA #1, 2007, 57%
Comment: This was found in the cellars of L’Encantada and stood out for quality, the cask only rendered 150 bottles at cask strength. I am stunned how mature it is after ‚only‘ 13 years. An amazing nose, dense, juicy, powerful yet balanced and with quite some rancio already. There are marzipan, assorted glazed nuts, leather, vanilla, dandelion, marigold, pepper and fruit (plums, raspberries, morello cherries, red- and blackcurrant, berry tea), Indian joss sticks and incense. Deep, dude! In the mouth it starts drier than expected and a bit demerara-esque. Licorice, mahogani and furniture polish, concentrated grape juice with dark fruitiness, chocolate raisins and spices. The heaviness carries on into a wonderful finish that leaves you craving another glass. A worthy first pick!
Armagnac Domaine Séailles 20 y.o., GotA #2, 2000, 54%
Comment: The second release has a nice unearthing story, let me quote: „Today we introduce you to Domaine de Séailles from Ténarèze – a small, artisanal wine & Armagnac producer founded by the Labérenne family and now passionately run by the super sympathetic winemaker Julien. By a stroke of luck, we followed a road sign as we passed through and ended up at a rustic and lovely estate. There we were allowed to explore the entire atmospheric warehouse (with chandeliers!) and were just blown away by the variety of styles!“ Again, cask strength, no additives, a single cask, 195 bottles of joy.
And yep, they picked another winner. This is sporting brighter fruits and oaky elements like caramel, vanilla, Asian spice, pepper, cedar – white oak? It is even more complex than its predecessor. I find glazed pastries, marzipan, nuts, rancio, flowers, tea, fruits (lemons, plums, chriies and berries) and this succulent red grape juiciness. It tastes excellent, even better than the nose, less wood now, more fruit juice and rancio, a complex balance with echoes of the nose. Elegant finish, very quaffable too. Super!
Rum Saint Lucia Distillers 15 y.o., Chairman’s Reserve for GotA & Rum X, 2005, 61,5%
Comment: A real authentic rum that aged in a Bourbon cask in tropical climate only- wow. The make consists of 50% John Dore and 50% Vendôme. And what a funky fella‘ this is, holy cow. Not for beginners, sweet teeth or faint-hearted, more for us suckers of ‚da dirt‘ 🙂 Imagine a small plastic producer’s backyard near a forest on which all kind of junk is stored: old paint, tar, diesel, rubber, dried-up glue stick (Pritt), bruised blood oranges, bananas and limes and the production hall smells on the side – weird but nice. The forest freshness and earthy tones I am getting now are joined by hints of vanilla, salt, leather, ground pepper, spices (cinnamon, cardamom), minty gum, licorice and black olive tapenade. On the palate it arrives oily and dirty as expected. Sour battery acid meets sweet minty lemon drop (Gletschereis candy), olives, rubber and pine cones. It is becoming sweeter with fruit, almonds and spice, huge complexity, rewarding finish. Don’t get me wrong, it is an unusual and funky one, but very interesting and of high quality. But you should be into such rums.
Good luck, boys, and thank you for letting me sample – carry on!