Very few cognac houses are able to use the term ‘Chateau’ for their cognac. It’s a designation that is specific to a property and the Vallet family at Chateau de Montifaud are fortunate enough to have their cognac house located in a chateau.
Chateau de Montifaud is definitely a family affair. Six generations of the Vallet family have produced cognac at Chateau de Montifaud (one even died from a fall from the top of a blending vat). Now Michael and Laurent Vallet, father and son, work side by side to produce a fantastic range of cognacs drawing from family properties in both Petite Champagne and Grand Champagne.
Although the family owns land in both Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne, they don’t blend these two regions in their cognacs, instead opting to present each region individually. You could consider the Vallet family over achievers – most of their cognacs are twice as old as the mandatory minimums set for each designation. Their VS is 4-5 years, VSOP 8-10 years, and XO 30 years.
Chateau de Montifaud also uses the process of faibles to adjust their cognac to the correct proof. Faibles are created by putting distilled water in old cognac barrels and letting it sit. The water pulls some of the cognac that has soaked into the barrel and produces a low alcohol liquid that contains 15% to 18% alcohol. These faibles are then blended, a small bit at a time, in a process called ‘petites eaux’ (or little waters).
There’s a beautiful tradition at Chateau de Montifaud that exemplifies its deep family roots. Whenever a child is born in the Vallet family, a cask of cognac is produced and then stored in ‘Paradis’ (where the oldest and most precious cognac is kept at a cognac house). Catherine Vallet, wife of Michael Vallet and head of marketing for Chateau de Montifaud, captures it so eloquently as she comments, “This is a beautiful place to live. We have the heart of the cognac, the angel’s share, and paradis.”
Two cognacs in the Chateau de Montifaud line clearly show off the different blending styles of father and son. Their XO Cognac, an exquisite blend of 30 year old Petite Champagne, is blended in a remarkably classic style by Michael Vallet. It’s an absolute stand-out XO that easily stands shoulder to shoulder with the best XO on the market. The Chateau de Montifaud Cognac Extra, created by Laurent Vallet, is comprised of 40 year old cognac in a style that is extremely bold and spicy. It’s the kind of cognac that is extremely friendly to the Chinese palate, one of the biggest markets for high-end cognac in the world.
In addition to the traditional line of cognacs, Chateau de Montifaud also produces a line of vintage quality, true vintage cognac, and a unique wine-based liqueur called Pineau des Charentes, done both as a blanc and a rose.
Chateau de Montifaud is a little gem of a cognac house doing some delicious and well-crafted cognacs. Their XO is simply exceptional and should definitely be sought out.
[flagallery gid=10 name="Gallery" skin=afflux]At Chateau de Montifaud, Cognac is a Family Affair by Geoff Kleinman