old-and-rare-logo

Current Old & Rare releases are extensively reviewed in Kelli’s White’s
long article about Germain-Robin in Antonio Galloni’s highly regarded Vinous multimedia review publication

The distillery in 1982. The building to the right is the ranch barn.
The distillery in 1982. The building to the right is the ranch barn.

In 1981, a chance encounter between Ansley Coale and Hubert Germain-Robin, whose family had produced cognac for some 200 years, led to the construction of the modest shed pictured at left. Among our innovations was the decision to distill wines made from premium grape varietals, in preference to the thin acidic wines distilled in Cognac. We have been hand-distilling premium varietal wines for now 31 years. These wines are vinified in bladder presses and controlled-temperature stainless steel tanks, using champagne yeasts. What we put into our still is the finest distillation material in current use anywhere. Hubert distilled these wines using ancestral double-distillation cognac methods, craft hand methods passed from master to apprentice for generations. The stills are antiques, operated entirely by hand. Preserving these methods by putting them to use in the modern world was one of our fundamental goals.

We use ancestral methods in the cellar, aging in air-dried Limousin oak. The brandies are segregated by varietal, preserving the distinctive characteristics of the fine grapes from which they derive. Descent to bottling proof is by filtered rainwater.

The complexity of our cellar is unmatched: brandies from some 26 grape varietals. No other cellar can draw on such a wide range of flavors and aromas. No distillery can match the potential complexity and balance of Germain-Robin brandies.

Our cellars contain some 1400 barrels, equal to 60,000 cases. About 25% of this brandy was distilled between 1983 and 1998, thus over 15 years old.
Our cellars contain some 1400 barrels, equal to 60,000 cases. About 25% of this brandy was distilled between 1983 and 1998, thus over 15 years old.

OLD & RARE BRANDIES

Cask 17. Joseph Corley assembles a blend from the very best of our old brandies, 25-30 years old, then ages it for 12 additional months in a 9-liter cask. A year in so small a cask is equivalent to 5-6 years in a standard barrel. The six components include 3 Pinot Noirs, 2 Colombards, and a beautiful 1989 old-vine Flora (a rarely-planteded cross of Gewurztraminer and Semillon) from the Kieffer vineyards in Hopland. 12 bottles only. SRP $1200.

GR/30. 300 bottles only. Brandies distilled 30 years ago. Includes a 1984 brandy from one of our favorite vineyards, the Hildreth ranch planting of Colombard along the Russian River in the center of the Ukiah Valley. When Hubert showed distillates from these grapes to a cellar-master in Cognac, he pointed out a depth and flavor which comes only from peat, which must lie within these deep alluvial soils. The Hildreths later grafted these vines to more profitable Chardonnay. Unfiltered.  SRP $500.

“Subtle and finely wrought… concentrated finish”

– Antonio Galloni’s Vinous Media.

Barrel 351. 120 bottles from a single barrel of perhaps our finest distillate, a 1987 pinot noir from the Welch vineyard in Potter Valley, 26 years old. The brandy has an almost feral intensity (Potter Valley’s are the northernmost Mendocino plantings), balanced by the distinctive Germain-Robin translucent delicacy. SRP $600.

“Incredibly appealing and endlessly complex, 96+ points”

– Antonio Galloni’s Vinous Media.

Barrel 154. The last 10 cases of a marvelous 1985 Chenin Blanc, old-vine grapes that no longer exist. This is one of the best brandies we ever distilled. SRP $600

Anno Domini. Exquisite aged pinot noir bottled in 2009, some 25 years old . When the AD was first released in 2000, three different magazines named it the best distilled spirit in the world. Brilliant and soft. Creamy sherry note from a touch of an old- vine Palomino distillate from 1984. No longer produced: 87 bottles remain. SRP $400.

 

Augustín’s Blend. Assembled in summer 1990 from 2- and 3-year-old distillates on the occasion of the birth of Ansley Coale’s son, then put to age for 22 more years in a 50-liter cask. Lengthy aging in this very small cask has produced characteristics that we will not see in our brandies for another 40-50 years. 18 bottles remain. SRP $700.

Old Havana. This richly-fruited blend was originally assembled for the market in 1997, then discontinued in 2002. 5 barrels sat in a corner of our cellar, were revisited in 2008, and used to start a solera. Contains brandies more than 25 years old.  SRP $120.

“One of the world’s great spirits”

– Mens’s Journal.

Apple XO. We have distilled apple brandy since 1991. This is a single barrel blended from our early distillations, deep and very complex, with none of the heaviness that so often deadens French Calvados. SRP $90.

Barrel Blend 1994. A custom blend created in 1994 for a wedding that didn’t take place. It includes a wonderful old-vine Chenin Blanc (one of our favorite early brandy varietals) that has long since been replanted. 20 years in the bottle has deepened and enriched the flavor. sold out.

SMALL BLENDS

We systematically tasted through all brandies distilled prior to 1997 and are carefully assembling unique one-time blends, never to be duplicated. Beautiful complexity in perfect and harmonious balance.

Small Blend no. 1. 18 cases. Includes a 1990 pinot noir from the County’s oldest planting and a rich 1983 French Colombard, 28 years old. Unfiltered. 41.7% abv.  SRP $295.

“Silken and seamless… long, fine finish”

– Antonio Galloni’s Vinous Media.

Small Blend no. 2. 76 cases. 1984 Gamay Beaujolais, 1989 Colombard, 1994 Pinot Noir. Unfiltered. 44.5% abv. SRP $300.

“Exceptional, superb” 95 points

– Antonio Galloni’s Vinous Media.

Small Blend no. 3. 74 cases. 1985 Gamay Beaujolais, 1996 Roederer Pinot Noir, two 1997 Colombards, plus 1996 Muscat, Riesling, & Viognier.  43% abv. SRP $285.

SINGLE-BARREL RELEASES

Brandy from a specified varietal of premium wine grape, aged in a single barrel. Excellent grapes yield brandies with distinctive varietal character, worth drinking unblended. An occasional barrel is spectacular: vintage, vineyard, good luck. Single-Barrel brandies are aged in older Limousin oak barrels (V for vieux, “old”) and brought to bottling proof using filtered rainwater.

All of our single-barrel releases have received  ★  from Pacult’s Spirit Journal.

Single-Barrel V171 French Colombard. 23 years old, beautifully soft.  SRP $180.

94 points

– Antonio Galloni’s Vinous Media.

Single-Barrel V320 Riesling. From 1998. Aromatic and focused. SRP $180.

Single-Barrel V217 Pinot Noir. Distilled from Roederer Estate grapes in 2001. Exceptional. SRP $150.

Single-Barrel V139 Semillon. Old-vine grapes distilled in 1992. Full and rich, very deep.  SRP $150.

“Gorgeous… 96+ points”

– Antonio Galloni’s Vinous Media.