Some say Master Distiller Hubert Germain-Robin and partner Ansley Coale produce the finest alembic (pot-still) brandies on the planet. While there is no “absolute proof” of this assertion, there is certainly exalted evidence of their abiding spirit.
For eight generations the Germain-Robin family produced world-class brandies in France’s Cognac region. Then, about thirty years ago, they sold their operation to the cognac-producing conglomerate Martell, and scion to the spirit house Hubert Germain-Robin left France for the woods of Mendocino County to apply his family’s time-honored hand-distillation methods to the area’s best grape varietals.
One of Germain-Robin’s finest creations is Anno Domini. The limited annual release, no longer actually produced but still available in limited quantities, is a blend of aged brandies made mostly from Pinot Noir but also with just a touch of old-vine Palomino, the grape varietal of sherry. Less than a hundred bottles remain of this remarkable elixir and at a price of $400 a bottle getting a sip remains a very exclusive experience.
A true bargain at around $50 a bottle, and no less sublime a delight, is Germain-Robin’s aptly named Creme de Poete. The supernaculum started its life over twenty years ago as pear brandy. Then, with each successive season, it was rarefied with infusions of various dried fruit essences, apricots, papayas, prunes, etc. Other hints and aromas were also imparted from macerations of brazil nuts, macadamias, walnuts – even sandalwood. Stunningly rich and multifaceted, this delicate yet deep-toned liqueur is what Germain-Robin likes to call his “accumulation of ideas”.