Comparing Foreign, U.S. Brandy

Times Wine Writer

Alambic Inc., a tiny brandy producer in Mendocino County, recently completed three blind tastings with wine writers and wine merchants in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, to evaluate its latest release and compare it with the best commercial Cognacs from France.

And Alambic’s product, Germain-Robin Fine Alambic Brandy Lot No. 4, finished first in all three events.

In the Los Angeles blind tasting, the second choice of the tasters was Leyrat Brut Absolu, followed by Remy Martin VSOP Fine; Ragnaud Reserve Speciale Grande Champagne; Delamain Pale and Dry; Germain-Robin Lot 5; Mercier Prestige, and Martell Cordon Bleu.

I evaluated the same Cognacs (and the Germain-Robin brandies) the day before the Los Angeles group and rated the Remy Martin first on the basis of a bit more smoothness in the finish. My second choice was Leyrat, just a shade ahead of the Germain-Robin Lot 4.


However, on price, the Germain-Robin product wins. It sells for $28; the Remy Martin and Leyrat sell for $33, and there wasn’t $5 worth of difference between the first three on my score sheet. All the other Cognacs are $35 and above.

The New York and San Francisco tasters ranked the Germain-Robin Lot 4 first, followed by Delamain, which sells for about $40 a bottle.

Dominic Cortese, a state assemblyman from San Jose, has accepted the position of chairman of the newly formed Wine Industry Task Force, which will hold its first meeting March 31-April 2 in New Orleans.

The task force, a joint effort by state legislative leaders from around the country, is aimed at eliminating state laws that conflict with interstate commerce of wine.