Ratafia is a generic term used in several European countries to designate sweet, fortified, fruit-based beverages.
But if there’s ONE famous Ratafia, it must be the one coming out of Champagne.
Technically, Ratafia is a mistelle, a blend of marc brandy (brandy made from vinace) and the unfermented juice of the grape (must), and it is the type of Ratafia produced in France.
Many Ratafia can have a rather simple flavor profile, just tasting like grape juice.
But if you make this fortified grape juice from one of the finest Chardonnay fruit in the world, from Champagne, and age it for 10 years, what is it going to taste like?
This is exactly what the respected Champagne producer Gremillet have done. They’ve selected Chardonnay must from the vintage 2006, aged it, and are now releasing it just in time for the 2016 holiday season.
Being so matured, it comes under the term X.O. or Extra Old, and a refined packaging. Although I only got to taste a sample coming in a lab tube.
The taste from the sample should however, be exactly the same as what you’ll get if actually buy the stuff.
So let’s find out what this Gremillet Ratafia de Champagne taste like.
This ratafia comes in an elegant yellow-brown color, with some red/pink hues in it.
The nose is intense yet refined, showcasing bursting aromas of fresh grape juice, elderflower, orange peel, and sweet spices. Some hay and walnut for a slightly vegetal touch.
It is very complex and subtle despite the sheer power of the smell. Layers and layers of aromatic notes are available to your senses, with no absolute dominant one.
The floral and fruity tones are the most obvious though, with lily, pear liqueur and dried citrus peel.
As is expected out of a mistelle, the palate is rather sweet. But there is also plenty of subtle acidity to balance it out well.
Overall is an impression of finesse together with an explosion of flavors in your mouth.
The fruity flavors burst on your palate backed up by the solid sweetness upfront. Things temper down a little towards and into the finish as the complex spices and oaky tones are revealed.
Loads of spicy oak aftertaste blend in with bitters-like flavors, gin-like juniper and bitterness on the finish. Striking and quite unique. One’s better like strong herbal scents though.
Those are layered and very complex giving birth to a very very long finish (> 1 minute).
A delicious mystelle full of elegance and complexity, yet in a powerful slightly oaky style.
Grape juice, gin, wine and marc brandy characteristics all blended in a single beverage.
A rather unique experience!