I had the great pleasure of working with D'USSE Cognac on a project to photograph 70 cocktails made with D'USSE. The D'USSE brand is owned by Bacardi, who is the largest privately held spirits company in the world. They produce and market a variety of internationally recognized premium spirits and wines.
D’USSé® Cognac is masterfully crafted at the prestigious Château de Cognac, one of the oldest cognac houses in France. It has a 200-year legacy in blending some of the world’s finest spirits. The Château’s proximity to the River Charente results in two climates within its walls: a humid cellar that results in fruity, floral notes, and a dry cellar that brings out the woody, spicy flavors of the cognac. Blending the two eaux-de-vie results in the boldness of character in D’USSé®Cognac.
Cellar Master Michel Casavecchia has been curating some of the world’s finest cognacs at the legendary Château de Cognac for over 20 years. His vision was to create a distinctively bold, yet remarkably smooth Cognac. The result is D’USSé®.
Throughout French history, those who march boldly forward carry the Cross of Lorraine. It is France’s fabled emblem of courage, honor and perseverance, which has become an iconic symbol for D’USSé®. The bottle is simple: A round shape, a cork, no label around the bottle neck, no label on the front. Just a golden double cross, the cross of Lorraine. It was the symbol of Joan of Arc, and in World War II it was adopted by the Free French forces of General de Gaulle.
I've always been fascinated learning more about food and drink. Here's an excerpt by Alexis Korman from her article,Ten Secrets About Cognac, from the Wine Enthusiast. This was Published on October 15, 2013, and can be read in it's entirety here.
Double-distilled from white wine produced from grapes grown in the Cognac Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, or AOC—an area extending from the banks of France’s scenic Charente River to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean—Cognac is a hot commodity with crossover appeal for wine drinkers. Here’s what you don’t know about the premium spirit.
1. All Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy can be considered Cognac.
2. For a brandy to be called Cognac, it must be made from specified grape varieties grown in the AOC (a majority of Ugni Blanc, with small portions of Colombard and Folle Blanche allowed), double-distilled in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in Limousin or Tronçais oak barrels. Cognac must be at least 40 percent alcohol.
3. The designations you see on Cognac labels—VS (Very Special), VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) and XO (Extra Old)—are a guarantee of how long a Cognac has been aged. VS indicates that the Cognac has been aged at least two years, VSOP at least four years and XO (Extra Old) at least six years. Most Cognacs are aged much longer, however, featuring a blend of eau de vie that can date back decades.
4. “Bonuses are offered for grape growers or eau de vie makers who produce exceptional distillate, and the entire region is dependent on third-party grape growers,” says Hugo Gallimard of Rémy Martin. In other words, while major Cognac houses may grow a small percentage of their own grapes, the vast majority of the distillate they use to create Cognac comes from local winegrowers and distillers.
5. Climate change may someday influence which grapes are used to produce Cognac. “Due to global warming, harvest is now in early October, and it’s getting earlier and earlier,” says Pierre Szersnovicz, brand ambassador and spirits consultant for Courvoisier. “Sugars are up and alcohol is, too, leading Cognac producers to lobby the BNIC [the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac] to explore other grape varieties, such as hybrids.”
6. According to Szersnovicz, 60 percent of Cognac consumption in the world is diluted—either it’s served on the rocks, with water or mixed in cocktails.
7. The French drink as much Scotch as they produce Cognac (nearly 12 million cases). “The vast majority—some 97 percent of Cognac produced—is exported,” says Szersnovicz.
8. According to Master Blender Laurent Robin of Louis Royer, 50 years is the average lifespan of a copper pot still due to acidity and heat.
9. Coloring can legally be added to Cognacs to ensure consistency.
10. Writers as disparate as Victor Hugo and The Notorious B.I.G. have waxed poetic about Cognac over the years, but Busta Rhymes and P. Diddy’s hit 2002 song, “Pass the Courvoisier” can be credited with putting Cognac on the pop culture map.
And, speaking of pop culture, you might find it interesting that Jay-Z, the super star rap artist, is not only the spokesperson for D'USSE, but also an investor in the brand. He helped launch the cognac at his 40/40 club in NYC.
About the Photo Shoot
Joseph Solis, luxury event planner and marketer, produced the shoot. The very talented photographer was Claire Barrett. I had a fabulous LA mixologist, Jimmy Mora, as my assistant. It was a wonderful week of shooting with a very talented crew! Here are some photos from the shoot. Click on any image to enlarge it and view as a slideshow.