Over the past few weeks, I have been sampling Dujardin VSOP. It is a brandy that comes out of Germany but made from French grapes. When one thinks of brandy, Germany does’t readily spring to mind, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this spirit. And I’m still not sure how to take it.
Peter Mielzynsky Agencies, a distributor of Dujardin, has this to say on their website:
The record tells us that Henricius Melcher, founding father of the company, was registered in Uerdingen as a chartered brandwine distiller as early as 1743. In the 19th century his successor built up extensive contacts throughout Europe and particularly with vintners in the famous French wine region of Charente. One of the major suppliers here to find was the Dujardin family, who subsequently set up a joint company with the Melcher family. A perfect union of French wine growing tradition and German distillation skills was established.
The celebrated offspring of this marriage is the aged brandy Dujardin VSOP that has gained enormous reputation for its high quality. While ageing in small limousin oak barrels, Dujardin develops a full bouquet with a smooth and rich taste.
Golden amber colour. Aromas of sweet honey, orange zest and clove spice. Very mellow and round on the palate with a bit of heat in the finish.
At this point in my sampling, I’m not able to exactly disagree with the tasting notes. But I am going to add a comment. I find the Dujardin to have a slightly more syrup-like texture than other brandies I’ve tested. Interestingly, that syrup texture has not necessarily translated into a more sweet tasting brandy.
As a sampling method, I mixed Dujardin with tonic. Apparently this is “a thing” in France. What I found in my sampling is a need to get the mix exactly right to obtain a cocktail that is remotely palatable, if not exactly pleasant. I’m not blaming the brandy here, just the cocktail. I enjoy a good Gin and Tonic. Brandy just doesn’t work for me. My first attempt, a single 40/45ml shot of brandy to 100 ml of tonic left me with way too much tonic so that I could barely observe the brandy. On my second attempt, I swamped the tonic with too much brandy. I haven’t bothered to try a “just right” mix down the middle, but I’m betting with myself that it will work out to be about 60ml of brandy to 100ml of tonic. I don’t need to prove the point to myself because I just don’t think tonic is the right mixer for brandy.
My poetic companion to Dujardin has been Goethe’s Der Erlkonig.
Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasp’d in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.
“My son, wherefore seek’st thou thy face thus to hide?”
“Look, father, the Erl-King is close by our side!
Dost see not the Erl-King, with crown and with train?”
“My son, ’tis the mist rising over the plain.”
“Oh, come, thou dear infant! oh come thou with me!
For many a game I will play there with thee;
On my strand, lovely flowers their blossoms unfold,
My mother shall grace thee with garments of gold.”
“My father, my father, and dost thou not hear
The words that the Erl-King now breathes in mine ear?”
“Be calm, dearest child, ’tis thy fancy deceives;
‘Tis the sad wind that sighs through the withering leaves.”
“Wilt go, then, dear infant, wilt go with me there?
My daughters shall tend thee with sisterly care;
My daughters by night their glad festival keep,
They’ll dance thee, and rock thee, and sing thee to sleep.”
“My father, my father, and dost thou not see,
How the Erl-King his daughters has brought here for me?”
“My darling, my darling, I see it aright,
‘Tis the aged grey willows deceiving thy sight.”
“I love thee, I’m charm’d by thy beauty, dear boy!
And if thou’rt unwilling, then force I’ll employ.”
“My father, my father, he seizes me fast,
For sorely the Erl-King has hurt me at last.”
The father now gallops, with terror half wild,
He grasps in his arms the poor shuddering child;
He reaches his courtyard with toil and with dread, –
The child in his arms finds he motionless, dead.
I haven’t studied Goethe deeply, but this poem is terrific on a rainy, stormy evening. Somehow it also manages to match the syrupy-but-not-sweet nature of the Dujardin. Check out the history via Wikipedia or your favorite source for literary facts and figures. Given that Goethe published Der Erlkonig in 1782, I can well-imagine one of Germany’s most highly regarded poets knocking back a bit of Dujardin of an evening.
I can’t say that I’d intentionally seek Dujardin out for its own merits. Rather like the riders in the poem, things just don’t sit right. The brandy may be fine as a supporting role to develop my house blend, but as a stand alone, other products suit my taste better. I suppose I just don’t want to work around the first impressions to get to the roundness and spice that can be found. I’m not patient enough to stick with this brandy. Probably not Goethe, either.