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The year is 1791. A young Englishman sets out from his native Dorset to learn the secrets of how cognac, his father’s favourite tipple, is produced. Thomas Hine is the sixth of twelve children and has just turned sixteen. His sense of timing is questionable though, given how inopportune a moment it is for an Englishman to find himself in France. Fleeing the French Revolution, he is imprisoned at the Château de Jarnac, where he remains sequestered for several months. His marriage to Françoise-Elisabeth, the daughter of his hosts, ensues. In 1817, Thomas Hine gives his name to this House, established on the banks of the Charente in 1763.

Since this dramatic arrival, six generations of the Hine family have succeeded one another at the head of Thomas Hine & Co. The tasting rooms at 16 Quai de l’Orangerie have seen it all, from the Great French Wine Blight to local conflicts, world wars, first bottlings, international incidents, economic booms and slumps, legendary river floods, connoisseur parties and exalted blends. Today, under the watchful eye of sixth-generation member Bernard Hine, a dedicated team of twenty people strive to preserve and act upon 254 years of spirited history.

Hine Rare VSOP is a blend of Grande and Petite Champagnes (60% is the former). This is what’s known as a Fine Champagne. The cognac is aged from between 6 and 12 years, with most being around 8 years old. It was first blended by the eponymous Thomas Hine.

Homage is a wonderful blend of Early Landed cognacs (a traditional method of maturing cognac – it is exported prior to maturation – thus the name – and is aged in cellars in the UK – Bristol to be precise) as well as very old c matured in the Hine’s Jarnac cellars. The blend was created on the 23rd October 2000 and selected on the 6th February 2008. It contains cognacs from 1984, 1986 and 1987.

A new addition to the Hine range, the classic Antique is now “Premier Cru”. Before it was a Fine Champagne (a blend of cognacs from both the Grande and Petite Champagne regions) now it is just produced using grapes from the Grande Champagne region – the top region for cognac. The new edition is a blend of over 40 different cognacs, aged for over a decade.

81ugwku95l-_sy445_.jpg?w=191&h=300 Hine Rare VSOP (80 proof)
Visual: Amber.
Nose: Sweet grape, oak, soft leather.
Taste: Rich, deep brandy flavor with a woody, semi-fruitcake flavor. Baking spices, currants, light vanilla bean, tannin at the very end.
Finish: Medium long, with more of the oak keeping on.
Overall: An elegant and smooth cognac that works as a sipper and in cocktails that call for a finer approach.
GSN Rating: A-

1homage.png?w=300&h=300 Hine Homage (80 proof)
Visual: Amber-Gold.
Nose: High notes of well-aged brandy. Slight grape and raisin notes.
Taste: Lots of sharp, almost piquant oak wood flavors punch through with the softer vanilla tones playing a distant second.
Finish: Long with a flavorful, dry and crisp finish.
Overall: An exceptional cognac which makes for a perfect after dinner dessert.
GSN Rating: A

254-thm350.jpg?w=180&h=300 Hine Antique XO (80 proof)
Visual: Darkening amber.
Nose: Seductively deep nose of dried cherry fruit, vanilla cream, and nut bread.
Taste: More broad in scope than the Rare and Homage, this has much more in the way of brown sugar, caramel and yet at the same time a spicy quality.
Finish: An elderly quality that seems very fruit forward. A slow sipper that will warm up to you after several tastes.
Overall: Quite smooth and in the mid-range of flavors. Very little in the way of high notes or brightness, this one is very laid back.
GSN Rating: A-

For more information go to: Hotaling & Co.