Germain-Robin Hand Distilled Alambic Brandies
Germain-Robin sniffing
"Classic techniques. Hand-crafted brandies of unmatched quality." 
  
-- CONNOISSEURS GUIDE 
     The Underground Wine Journal says:  "Germain-Robin is one of a small group of artisan distillers who compete with the Europeans in the market for high-quality, ultra- premium brandy, eaux-de-vie, and grappa.  He combines European equipment and methods with California grapes and wine-making technology.  The brandies produced by Germain-Robin rival the finest cognacs." 

Germain-Robin/Alambic was founded in the early 80s by Hubert Germain-Robin and Ansley Coale, Jr. They met in a chance happening when Ansley picked up Hubert and his wife who were hitchhiking through California. Ansley is a former professor of classics at Berkeley turned sheep farmer and Hubert came from a prominent family of distillers in France (who have been producing cognac since 1782). With Coale's suggestion that Hubert distill local grapes, Hubert returned to France and obtained an "alambic" still (one with a long neck which produces a smoother product) which was installed in a small wooden cabin overlooking the sheep farm. Each year Hubert, using traditional methods that have been almost entirely abandoned in France, hand-distills 80 barrels of a true connoisseur's brandy, equal to cognacs from the finest smaller producers. 

The individual wines are distilled twice then placed in new French oak barrels for a year then moved to seasoned old barrels from Cognac. Finally, they are blended to create the fine line of Germain-Robin brandies.  


Germain-Robin brandies display fruity delicacy, finesse, and uncommon smoothness. The distinctive fruity richness comes from the brilliant California sun and from the distillation of premium varietals, including Pinot Noir.


"Is the World's Best Cognac Made in Ukiah?" 

  
--LOS ANGELES TIMES
  


Blend Information

Except for the single-barrel, all GERMAIN-ROBIN brandies are blends of different varietals and different vintages. Unlike European grape spirits (cognac, armagnac), GERMAIN-ROBIN is distilled from premium grapes: pinot noir, chenin blanc, semillon. Better wine-making equipment means the varietal characteristics of the wines emerge clear, pure and rich. Hand-distillation, using a small cognac still, evokes a refined and elegant concentration of flavor. 
 
  • FINE
The younger (VSOP) brandies have wonderful Californian fruit overtones. The basic wines are Colombard and Chenin Blanc, with Gamay Beaujolais and Pinot Noir. Other varietals are used for complexity and balance. Pure and flavorful. 
 
  • SHAREHOLDERS' BLEND
200 cases/year. The blend given to shareholders. Younger brandies selected for fragrance and delicacy are blended with older brandies distilled fro Pinot Noir, which gives the blend structure, depth, and a rich finish. Average age about 7 years. Amazingly smooth. 
 
  • SELECT BARREL XO
Astonishing quality in the classic XO tradition. Very deep and rich, with hints of vanilla and dark chocolate. Eleven years in small Limousin barrels,XO bottle chosen from the brandies which are put aside for long aging. High proportion of brandies from Pinot Noir. The finish is astoundingly long and full. 
 
  • CIGAR BLEND
Brandies with cedar and tobacco overtones create a "humidor" fragrance. Contains brandy distilled from Sauvignon Blanc which delivers lush fruit on the forward palate, where it balances a cigar's earthy dryness. 
 
  • SINGLE-BARREL BRANDIES
Limited release, two barrels/year. Brandy from a single varietal, unblended while aging. No caramel, no sugar, simply a pure essence of the original wine, brought ot bottling proof with rainwater. Pure, soft intensity. 
 
  • GRAPPA OF ZINFADEL
One batch, about 45 cases/year. Whole-grape grappa (technically, an "ue") distilled in a cognac still (elegance and delicacy) from very special grapes: 75-year-old high-bench vines, organically dry-farmed. Amazing intensity, without the usual grappa-kerosene overtones. 
Signature label 
 
The Los Olivos Wine & Spirits Emporium is one of the largest retailers of Germain-Robin Fine Alambic Brandies in the world.  We also carry our own MARKET BRANDY, which was produced for us by Germain-Robin.  We invite you to visit our stock page for our current selection, or call us toll free in the United States at 888-SB-WINES.
Sepia photo by Clare Hardy