Journalist Alexandre Vingtier asked Richard Braastad, cellar master at maison Tiffon, which word best describes his relationship with Cognac? He chose patience.
The patience of a lifetime
“My life is inextricably linked to Cognac. I worked at my family’s estate for fifteen years. During this time, I observed the weather, water stress, and the risk of vine diseases until the harvest, which provides a moment of great relief for winegrowers each year. My work did not did not stop there: I spent every winter next to my ten boilers, monitoring each wine spirit.
Then one day the cellar master of Maison Tiffon offered me the opportunity to take over his position. At each Cognac house, a tremendous amount of respect still exists for the estate “nose”. They are simultaneously the taster, technician, and aesthete who puts their philosophy into practice or at least their expertise acquired from tasting wine spirits (both young and old) every day for at least ten years, the time it takes to master the profession. You need to learn how to work slowly, repeating each task to understand the true meaning behind it, mastering the transformation of wine spirits in oak barrels, and understanding oak in all its varying degrees of intensity.”
Patience lasting generations
“You also need to learn how to control your emotions: faced with wine spirits that are sometimes centuries old, it is difficult to remain stoic. However, it is important to not rush things. I taste wine spirits distilled by my father, grandfather and even my great-grandfather. Even now, I regularly taste Cognacs distilled before I was born. I can often hardly wait to taste them and would love to be ten years older to have a preview of how they will develop! Today, I have almost come full circle since I am now blending my own wine spirits!
There is a certain magic to my profession. Over time, it is possible to create an entirely unique combination of aromas influenced by oak, humidity, etc. After fifteen years, the first rancio notes appear, featuring oily, floral aromas reminiscent of Cognac. The cellar is therefore the embodiment of the estate’s history, not to mention the result of hard work and patience lasting several generations: the century-old cellars of Maison Tiffon are currently home to 12,000 barrels covered in a thick layer of Torula compniacensis, a black fungus that feeds on alcohol vapours. As cellar masters, we are guardians of a heritage encompassing real estate, aromas, and a brand legacy reflected in the timeless style that the estate embodies.”