Hine Cognacs are some of the most highly regarded around the world for their quality, elegance and complexity. After a trip to Maison Hine in the picturesque Jarnac, we take a closer look at one of its classic releases, the regal Hine Rare VSOP Cognac.
What is Hine?
A Bit of History
Hine was founded in 1763 by Englishman, Thomas Hine. Thomas travelled from Dorset to France to learn about his father’s favourite drink, Cognac. After a couple of months spent imprisoned in the Château de Jarnac – to ascertain whether he was an English spy – he was released to go about his business, make the fortunate marriage alliance with Françoise-Elisabeth (daughter of the owner of Delamain) and go on to give his name to the brand.
Hine strongly believes that it is impossible to have a good cognac without first having fantastic wine, and that terroir is more important than having a strong oak flavour. This is the reason that, even though they only produce 40,000 cases (12 bottles per case) a year, they own 120 hectares of vineyards. To put that into context, Hennessy – 55% of the buyer market – has 200 hectares yet produce 8.5 million cases. Hine’s profusion of grapes means that, as well as their staple blended range, they are able to produce single estate expressions and regularly release vintage Cognacs that have been aged to perfection before bottling.
Whilst there is currently no rule within the Cognac appellation that states the houses have to use French oak, it is tradition and one that Hine feels very strongly about. Hine’s Marie-Emmanuelle Febvret passionately expounds that whilst others want to innovate using different woods, port finishes and the like, Hine seeks to innovate “within the frame of the appellation.” This is done by them through single estate harvests, which they began doing in 2015 to much uproar and doubt from their neighbours, as well as experimenting with ageing their early vintage Cognacs in Bristol and Glenfarclas in Scotland.
Read more about Hine, its vineyards, blending process, small distilleries, huge cellars and glorious maison here.
Hine Rare VSOP Cognac
This is Cognac with 250 years of history to it. The recipe was first introduced by Thomas Hine himself and blends around 20 eaux-de-vie from the growing regions of Grand Champagne (40%) and Petite Champagne (60%), aged between six and 12 years.
The distinctive Hine faceted bottle is a replica of a crystal decanter presented to descendent Robert Hine as at his wedding in 1938.
Tasting Notes – Hine Rare VSOP Cognac
Subtle notes of honey and white flowers start, followed by peaches in syrup, apricots and a prickle of spice.
Juicy fruit pervades the palate with a lick of liquorice coming through. The lees that the wine is rested on gives a creamy impression that meets the notes of brioche and gentle bitterness of hazelnuts that ends the palate.