I am not a big spirits drinker. I enjoy an island malt in winter on some of the days I haven't imbibed in alcohol. Needless to say when in Scotland......... I've also enjoyed fruit Eau de Vies over the years and currently the lightly oaked La Vieille Prune from Louis Roque is an at-home malt alternative. After a restaurant meal in France though my digestive of choice is a marc.
At the Faugères high summer fete this year Matthieu Frécon was demonstrating his still. The stove on the left heats the fermented brew and the boiled off alcohol and other vapours pass along the turquoise towel wrapped pipe to the vessel on the right. Here it condenses in a water cooled coil and the dribble of clear liquid going into the steel bucket is the result.
As I understand it the process is repeated before water is added to give the desired alcoholic strength.
Being principally a wine rather than fruit growing area the still is put to work on fermented stalk and skin leftovers. This produces an Eau de Vie called Marc (pronounced marr not mark, a mistake I made for many years). If the Marc is then aged in wood the result is coined Fine which is legislatively/geographically to Cognac or Armagnac as Méthode champenoise sparkling wine is to Champagne.
I generally prefer Marc to Fine for it's purity - the essence of grape stalks, pips and skins without any tannin. Served cold in an iced glass is a treat the more switched on restaurants offer.
Matthieu Frécon also provides a service for other producers. If you can find it, my recommendation would be for Virgile Joly's marc.
This 1895 Faugères Fine (bottled in 1985) was opened at the much missed Le Mimosa restaurant at the end of a soirée back in 2011. A privilege and interesting to try.
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