A new cognac has been launched by Renault that has been specifically developed for drinking with coffee.
Called Avec after the French word for “with”, it has enhanced notes of roasted mocha and vanilla and a structure that is smooth and round, making it a perfect partner for coffee.
Developed by Renault’s cellar master David Croizet, it was inspired by one of Cognac Renault’s strongest markets, the Nordic countries, where asking for “a coffee with” is shorthand for “a coffee with cognac”.
Avec’s taste profile is achieved by using David’s new and unique process of cask-making that involves triple steam and brasero toasting. Barrels for Avec are made by plunging them into tanks containing very hot water before being brasero toasted – burning the interiors of the staves on a fire.
The operation is repeated three times to achieve the precise aromas – a form of torrefaction that has never been done before in making barrels for cognac.
David said: “We have created a taste that is totally new to Renault and has never been seen in cognac before. Our signature style has always been a balance of fruit and spice. I wanted to see if we could achieve specific aromas with notes of torrefaction: roasted notes of mocha and vanillin.
“On the palate, Avec is incredibly smooth and soft. We were not looking for a big, powerful cognac but one that complements good coffee.”
The eaux-de-vie in the Avec blend come from the classic three top crus in Cognac – Fins Bois, Petite Champagne and Grande Champagne ‒ but are relatively young, aged between three to eight years. Avec bottles carry no age designation.
Jérôme Durand, managing director of Cognac Renault, said: “This is a totally new take on cognac. We wanted to simplify the labelling and get away from the traditional strictures of age designation, which are often lost on the consumer and even some professionals.”
Avec has been developed not just for the traditional on-trade but also for cafés and coffee shops. “Avec has been created to be served in the new generation of coffee houses that are looking to have licences and provide the ‘third space’ for younger people living in crowded urban areas with no space at home,” Jérôme explained.
“The coffee shop is increasingly providing a relaxed, unsophisticated space that is not a club, pub or bar, where people can work and socialise from 8am to midnight. A new style of cognac has its place in this new environment.”
Avec is available now for the on-trade and premium independent off-trade as well as travel retail markets.
Tasting notes have been provided by James Wise of London restaurant and bar Treves and Hyde and now coffee roaster Assembly Coffee in Brixton, who was crowned Best Barista 2017 at the international Coffee Masters competition. He paired Avec with Assembly Coffee’s La Claudina Colombian coffee.
He finds aromas of vanilla, cacao and muscovado sugar from the cognac, with notes of mace, black pepper, honey and fennel on the palate, describing it as smooth and long. This complements the aromas of cacao and stone fruit in the La Claudina coffee and its full-bodied flavours of raisin, rum, treacle and honey.
James said: “The inherent sweetness of cognac has traditionally been a natural side order to an espresso to balance out inherent bitterness. However in recent years, advancements made in the coffee industry have drastically improved roasting quality, style and sourcing.
“This allows us to create a much more exciting pairing based less around balancing obvious flavour profiles and more about matching subtle nuances now available.
“With Avec alongside this coffee, similarities shine through thus balancing, bolstering and complementing flavour elements like cacao, honey and vanilla, letting each roll into the other, sip after sip.”
Established in 1835 by Frenchman Jean-Antonin Renault, the house is no stranger to innovation, being the first producer in the 19th century to ship bottled cognac in large quantities, ensuring that not only the quality of contents remained intact but that the brand’s identity was clearly visible.