Really pull out all the stops this holiday: Merlet Sélection St. Sauvant Cognac [classic article]

Sometimes, you really have to go all out on a holiday gift. You might be thinking you live a simple lifestyle . . . a batch of cookies covers everyone on your gift list. That is, until you get thrown into the deep end of the social stratum pool. Suddenly, you have to up your game! Don’t laugh. You never know when this might happen to you.

Maybe some event occurs in your hometown . . . you get interviewed by the local news and it gets picked up on a national level. Suddenly, you’re being flown to New York or DC or LA to be on tv! Maybe you attend a tag sale at the fancy mysterious home in your neighborhood and find out that it’s owned by a duchess! Or, perhaps, you find yourself having lunch with a state or US Senator at a fundraiser. Possibly someone you went to school with marries a movie star and suddenly, you’re socializing with them. All of these things have happened to me; there’s no reason they can’t happen to you. Hey, my dad became a daily coffee klatch buddy of George McGovern when McGovern was at Northwestern University as a visiting professor thing . . . it started when he spotted my dad at a restaurant table at the Orrington Hotel and asked for a section of his newspaper!

So, you find yourself in this situation and you want to pull out all the stops for a gift. It’s the holidays, why not? You may not know the famous person very well, but you’re confident that they’ve been exposed to the finest things in life. How to make a great impression?

I was faced with this dilemma recently. After moving Heaven and Earth, I secured an interview with Mike Rowe! I did this for a veterans’ magazine I help edit. Oh, it was delightful . . . he called with his familiar voice on my cell phone, declaring that he was in a robe and drinking coffee. Across three times zones I, too, was in my bathrobe drinking coffee. How intime. So, I’ve got that going for me. Mike’s exactly how you might think he is from tv . . . very easy to talk to. I ended up telling him stuff I never intended and he’s the one who was the interview subject!

Afterwards, I heard my late father’s voice in my head, asking me how I would keep that connection going. I thought of the luxurious, elegant Merlet brand. Who could resist that?

They have a special, limited edition cognac: Sélection St. Sauvant. I was happy to be hosted to experience it! The blend is unique and produced as a limited edition with less than 800 bottles available in U.S. Though he’s down to earth, Mike Rowe has traveled all around the world — some of it on an elite “D-3” First Class pass from American Airlines. I figured, limited edition and delectable was the perfect way to go, present-wise. I don’t know his reaction to it, yet. I’m kinda on pins and needles. I know the cognac is stand-out, though . . . I ain’t worried about that!

Here’s how I experienced it: It’s a perfect amber color. Definitely serve it in a large balloon glass. Honestly, you won’t look like an a-hole from an SNL skit — there’s good reason to serve it that way. You want to really give it a few minutes to aerate. The shape of the glass allows the cognac to warm by the heat of your hand, the exact opposite of a champagne flute that you hold by the stem to keep chilled.

The first elements of the nose to me were dried orange peel and apricot, drifting into a brighter pineapple scent.

It’s warming, fiery at first on the palate. First flavors included dried orange peel, then bitter almond. It’s full in the mouth but not syrupy. Then, there’s a tropical fruit bouquet aftertaste. The flavors cover all the palate.

This is what they say about it:

This delicate cognac is a marriage of “eaux-de-vie” from the Petite Champagne and Grande Champagne aged over 10 years as well as from the Fins bois (1992 and 2001) and from the Petite Champagne (1993). The alcohol strength is then slowly reduced to allow a perfect balance of flavors. This cognac is unique and produced as a limited edition.

Color: Light brown, natural intensity
Nose: Reveals notes of ripe fruits (peaches and apricots) and of candied oranges. After a gentle stir, the aromas intensify: touches of white flowers and roasted hazelnuts complete the fruity notes first perceived.
Mouth: The attack is round, structured and with lengthy notes on the palate. The flavors of ripe fruits first revealed on the nose are still present and are slightly enhanced by an elegant woody finish.

Bedford and Grove, LLC represents Merlet in the U.S. For more information on the brand and its distribution, please contact Stephen Camisa at or 502.244.4123.

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