Brandy Review: Calvados Coquerel Fine

Calvados is one of France’s protected¬†appellations (AOC), a designation for apple brandy that is produced in the Normandy region and hews to certain standards. Like Cognac, Calvados is one of the world’s great brandies, and you can expect a certain level of excellence when opening a bottle.

Calvados Coquerel is reportedly the second-largest seller on Calvados in the world. In order to meet the designation for “Fine,” the youngest and least expensive type of Calvados, the brandy must be aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years. In their press materials, Coquerel reports that their Fine expression is blended from brandies aged for a minimum of three years, although this isn’t stated on the bottle.

As you would expect from a young apple brandy, Coquerel Fine has the smell of fresh, sweet apple cider. It also, not surprisingly, has some harsher elements of ethanol, lending it a somewhat medicinal quality.

A burst of tart apples comes through in the taste, although it’s more muted than in the scent. There is an initial sweetness, but that quickly fades and the finish is actually rather bitter. Some spicy notes — mostly vanilla — linger in the background.

After only two (or three) years in the barrel, this Calvados still has some rough edges, and is fairly one note. If you’re looking for a brandy to sip, you’re better off looking elsewhere. But if you need something to mix in cocktails or, even better, to cook with, this is an acceptable choice, especially for the price.