Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe Francaise Superieur 65
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Country of Origin: France
Alcohol Level: 65 %
Vendors: ♣ Absinthe Classics , ♣ Absinthes.com
Description: According to Absintheonline.com: Vieux Pontarlier (pronounced 'View Pon-tarr-lee-ay') Absinthe Française Supérieure is carefully crafted in small batches using alambic stills that were specifically designed to make absinthe. This historic spirit is distilled using locally grown wormwood (Artemisia absinthium), which is considered the finest in the world, along with green anise seed, Provençal fennel seed and a variety of additional aromatic herbs and spices. Faithful to the original formulations, there is no sweetening added of any kind - its refreshing taste is obtained entirely from the combination of plants and the distiller's skills. Fine, medium peridot green color. Gradually forming louche, milky with opalescent reflections. Aroma initially of bright anise, developing heady, alpine herbs, with savory, mentholated wormwood notes. Intitial taste is intense and spicily piquant, with round, herbal flavors cradling the wormwood and a long, refreshing, cooling finish of anise and fennel seed.
Reviewed by Donnie Darko 12/18/2008
COLOR BEFORE WATER 10/10
Peridot and transparent. I can't find anything wrong with it.
LOUCHE ACTION 8/10
The louche happens more as a heavy fogging than as a rich swirly clouding via a slow fountain drip. Opaque and pretty.
COLOR AFTER WATER 9/10
Milky green. Not luminous, but very pretty.
Neat, a brisk minty whiff is followed by some smokey peppery tones. A drop neat on the back of a spoon reveals an unmistakeable light honeyed dirtiness of tails influences, which is disappointing but may soften with age. Louched, it has a very pleasant interplay of wormwood, mint and pepper, with some soft anisey touches rounding it out. There is a cozy warmth to the aroma when one puts their nose close to the glass. The only aspect of the aroma that blooms from the glass sufficiently is the minty aspect of the wormwood.
A nicely executed balance between brisk mint and velvety anise. It could be richer but it is very drinkable and dynamic on the tongue. Perhaps this is due to the grape eaux-du-vie base.
It has a fresh wintery taste, and the grape spirit is the least obtrusive grape base I've encountered. The minty character specific to the Pontarlier wormwood is not overpowering, and is held nicely in check by the other herbs, none of which are particularly out of balance. There seems to be some coriander to it. There is also evidence of some brisk coloring herb contribution, which I suspect will soften with age. I expected a bit more fragrant anise given the lovely anise profile of the Vieux Pontarlier Anisette, but again, that may come out more with age.
OVERALL IMPRESSION 8/10
Excellent wormwood with complex alpine supporting tastes. The downside is the slight tinge of tails in the neat aroma and what seems to be a relatively young age. The upside is this is superior to all other US legal absinthes I've had to date, and its wormwood persona blows away anything else one can buy off the shelf. Finally there is a US legal absinthe that tastes like the herb it is named after.
Donnie Darko scores Vieux Pontarlier 84 out of 100
Reviewed by sixela 2/13/09
COLOUR BEFORE WATER 8/10
A tinge towards olive green; I don't like Matter "German Green Goblin Green" that much, but this is a bit too reminiscent of François Guy to score more.
LOUCHE ACTION 7/10
Not my personal favourite because it's too fast (and confined to the bottom): it louches without the hesitation and nice swirls of almost-louche that some absinthes display.
But it certainly LOUCHES and has ample supply of anethole (as the taste and nose also show). Someone with different tastes could think it's Da Bomb - it's very personal.
COLOUR AFTER WATER 9/10
Perhaps a bit light, but pleasantly milky green (with less yellow than the unlouched drink). Louches so opaquely you could shield yourself from an A-bomb flash behind it.
Overpowering anise smell that's a bit pushy. No distinct fennel presence. Wormwood present but only in its less typical facets (some minty aroma and a candy fruit like component to it) - the sometimes earthy and sometimes herbal smell isn't there. Colouring herbs very discrete, except for the melissa (almost no hint of pontica and hyssop).
When you smell it for longer, the anise really starts to shout its presence - in a good way, though I've smelled more subtle anise.
Only little fragrant floral notes.
Despite all the aspects described above a bit simple - also in a good way, although I wouldn't like all my absinthes to have as little frills.
Thick and velvety, except when the surprising dry bitterness of the wormwood and some mint tones intercede for a moment (which makes it even better).
Simple because the anise is very pushy and the fennel is spectacularly inobtrusive (almost makes you think of it as Francois Guy on steroids, in a much better incarnation).
The wormwood doesn't have the "fresh wormwood smell" taste that you'd expect; there's just a very pleasant very dry hint of bitterness and then the typical candied fruit like after-taste, and some mint quite a bit later (with the other components to the taste in between).
After that, the anise comes back to the front; it lacks the subtlety and fragrant notes of the very best.
Notes of coriander, mint and melissa at the end together with the persisent anethole after-taste. Pleasant, but not an alpine meadow.
OVERALL IMPRESSION 8/10
Interesting wormwood (but tastes very differently from the wormwood in, say, the Wormwood blanche). Very clean, and a cross between Vieux Pontarlier (Anis), François Guy on steroids and the old nice but underpowered Un Emile.
Less "no guts, no glory" attitude than some of the Jades and not as floral with complex taste notes at the end as some other absinthes.
Perfectly executed, though, and even though I *think* I like some absinthes recipes better (either slightly more floral ones, some others with a bit more pontica and hyssop, and some that shout WORMWOOD), I couldn't resist drinking the rest of the only sample I got (thanks, Patlow!), so it's very charming.
If they'd sell this in Europe, even unconditional aficionados of François Guy's very idiosyncratic taste would never buy a bottle of FG any more.
Sample graciously sent by Patlow (whom I owe several beers in Boveresse now. And not Swiss swill…)
Sixela scores Vieux Pontarlier 80 out of 100
Reviewed by absinthist 3/13/2009
COLOR BEFORE WATER 4/10
Faint green, almost blanche-y, very disappointing. Maybe after the colouration it has been too much diluted?
LOUCHE ACTION 9/10
Proper, gradual, gets opaque at 1:2. In that department an obvious improvement in Pernot distillerie.
COLOR AFTER WATER 9/10
Nice yellowish with green tinges. Pleasant to look at.
Helluva of mintiness, but not obtrusive, slight anise. Not dull as the faint colour might suggest.
Clear, spicy and minty, not too heavy, not too thin, a bit unbalanced.
Spicy, bitter, has a strong personality, which gets toned down at 1:4, so advisable is to taste that extrait at 1:3. The herbs of the main body are prominent and leave a nice sensation. Very drinkable absinthe.
OVERALL IMPRESSION 6/10
Decent and traditional product. The strong clear lemony mintiness is its greatest advantage. Needs a thorough revision of the colour and alcohol content prior to the colouration. As far as alcohol base is concerned it is not obtrusive although it is grape.
absinthist scores Vieux Pontarlier 67 out of 100