The House of HINE: Classic Cognac For Today

by The Tasting Alliance Team  |  06.08.2022

The United States and other markets have been paying more attention to France’s biggest spirit export and with good reason. For palates trained on bourbon and other American whiskeys, cognac offers a new sipping experience that is both familiar and new. Cognac goes way beyond a cigar pairing and HINE Cognac is a shining example of how and why. Founded over 250 years ago, in 1763, HINE Cognac is rich in tradition, yet always forward-thinking. Six generations, tracing back to founder Thomas Hine, have continued this legacy and are producing some of the finest cognacs on the market today.

Image: HINE Cognac

The House of HINE sits on the Charente River in Jarnac, France, right in the heart of Cognac, and produces a full range of cognacs, including two Double Gold winners from the 2022 SF World Spirits Competition: H By HINE, a VSOP that is lively and elegant, with notes of fresh apricots and white pepper, and Rare VSOP, that tastes of stone fruit and warm brioche.

Image: HINE Cognac

Eric Forget, HINE’s Cellar Master for over 20 years, explains the process from grape to bottle:

“We approach our vineyards with a sustainable sensibility. We believe that sustainable farming is the gateway to ensuring heathy soils, natural expression of the terroir and quality fruit. What happens in the vineyard is the starting point for producing the best wine to produce cognac.” HINE takes this inital production of wine seriously – after all, great cognac is born from a great white wine, and there are no shortcuts to producing that.

HINE also understands that in order to keep making their cognac for generations to come, they must treat the land with respect. “Our estate vineyards proudly just renewed both our Certification Environnementale Cognac and the Haute Valeur Environnementale (HVE) certificates, which rewards sustainable practices such as protecting the perpetuity of the vines and the environment,” says Forget. “In the vineyard, we harvest when we believe we have reached our targeted maturity, but we also take into consideration a variety of intangible factors beyond sugar content that come with years of experience and understanding how the fruit I’m tasting today will translate 10 and 20 years down the road.” This foresight is why their older cognacs taste so exceptional and ensures they will continue to as the aged cognac matures in time to be bottled.

Image: HINE Cognac

Aging is one of the most important parts of cognac production, as the wood imparts much of the flavor of the finished product. HINE’s process is carefully devised and strategically implemented in order to create the ideal balance of wood and grapes.

Forget explains, “In the cellar, we are very strategic about controlling the amount of wood influence in our blends because we never want the wood to overpower or mask the fruit. Our goal is to honor the terroir and enhance the beautiful aromatics and flavors of our fruit throughout the aging process. While other producers may prefer the aggressive tannins of Limousin oak, we opt for lightly toasted, finer grain wood, which offers round, velvety and soft tannins – a style that aligns with our product philosophy: fine, delicate, floral, elegant, smooth and easy to drink cognac.”

Image: HINE Cognac

Known for their elegant style of cognac production, every decision from the vineyard to the distillation process to the cellar is vital. This careful attention to detail is how HINE achieves the finesse, delicacy, and fruitiness for which their blends are known.

HINE’s range focuses solely on VSOP and XO cognacs, using grapes exclusively from the most prestigious Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne crus of the Cognac region. These refined cognacs are best enjoyed neat in a snifter, to coax out all of the delicate aromas and flavors. The VSOP H by HINE is nuanced and rich enough to drink neat on its own, but was also specially developed to mix well into cocktails of all types.

Many of the classic cocktails enjoyed today were originally made with cognac. Not sure where to start? Kick it off with something simple to make, yet complex on the palate, like the HINEBall, pictured here, with spicy ginger ale to compliment H’s robust flavor profile. To level up, try swapping H by HINE Cognac into a stirred whiskey cocktail like an Old Fashioned for a brighter, fruitier take. Manhattan lovers can meet halfway with a Vieux Carré, a most perfect blend of cognac, rye whiskey, and sweet vermouth. Citrus fruits, particularly lemon, play exceptionally well with cognac, so shake up a refreshing Sidecar or warm up with a Hot Toddy for year-round go-to options. Santé!

Image: HINE Cognac

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