Grand Marnier Taste of heaven at the Ritz
Grand Marnier Taste – One of the liqueurs that I remember fondly from my childhood is Grand Marnier. This golden amber coloured spirit was the favourite of many in my household in Caracas, Venezuela. For instance, my late grandmother used it for baking in her delicious pain brioché aux raisins secs et au Grand-Marnier. Each and every time we would go to a French restaurant, my aunt Giuseppina would order Crepes Suzette. She loved its bitter orangey taste in this classic French dessert.
That powerful taste is the exoticism and intriguing finesse of Grand Marnier. In general, the famous liqueur is made from an almost equal blend of french cognac and exotic bitter orange. The cognac is sourced from the Cognac region located 450 km south-west of Paris from five crus: Grande and Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Boins and Bon Bois.
Grand Marnier get its orange notes from Caribbean-grown “Citrus Bigaradia,” also known as Seville or bitter orange. The oranges are carefully handpicked, chopped and their peels are dried in the sun. This method encourages flavour retention. These oranges were originally introduced to the Caribbean by the earliest European explorers, a group that included Christopher Columbus.Apart from grapes and oranges, Grand Marnier draws its unique flavour from French oak barrels. The warm, exotic spice tones of the wood complement the spirit’s inherent fruitiness.
Grand Marnier was created in 1880 during the time of la Belle Époque. At the beginning, his inventor Louis-Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle wanted to name it Curacao Marnier. However his friend César Ritz after tasting it suggested the actual name to reflect the high quality of the liqueur. “ A grand name for a grand liqueur”, he is reputed to have said, ignoring a trend in turn-of the century Paris to call everything small or “petite”
Not long ago I assisted a Grand Marnier tasting supper in the company of its Master Blender, Patrick Raguenaud. He has been Grand Marnier’s Master Blender since 2004 overseeing all the production stages of this fine liqueur. In addition to his role, Mr. Raguenaud is the President of the National Interprofessional Bureau of Cognac since November 2017. The invitation was a courtesy of the Campari Group which owns Grand Marnier. The supper took place at the blue room of the Ritz Carlton in Montreal.
The concept of the supper was to demonstrate the versatility of Grand Marnier in the gastronomical table beyond its traditional place as a digestif. An avant-garde philosophy of Grand Marnier, they want to boldly twist the elements of a tradition and transform a good experience into a Grand one. They call it #WeLiveGrand, or #NousVoyonsGrand
In each course, I was delightfully treated with a different cocktail in which Grand Marnier was an important component. The menu was a modern take on Auguste Escoffier classic French gastronomy and included adventurous pairings such as pheasant breast in Vin Jaune sauce with a Grand Old Fashioned and Salmon Bellevue style with a Grand Collins. Although pairing cocktails with supper is not what I prefer, it was an excellent groundbreaking educational experience. Actually for a moment of time, I felt like Louis-Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle who made an scandal in the conservative world of Cognac by introducing exotic oranges and thus creating Grand Marnier.
For me the climax of the supper was to taste the Cuvéé Louis-Alexandre and Cuvée du Centenaire. Unfortunately, I was not able to stay until the end for personal reasons and missed the opportunity to both the mythical Cuvéé 1880 and Cuvéé Quintessence.
Grand Marnier Louis-Alexandre, SAQ # 00525261, $70.25
Invented in honour of Louis-Alexandre Marnier Lapostolle in 1977, the recipe was inspired by an habit that Louis-Alexandre enjoyed, adding an extra drop of cognac to this glass of Grand Marnier to give it a more complex taste
Complex nuances of candied orange with hints of citrus and orange peel with a delicate bergamot essence.On the palate, flavours are reminiscent of confit citrus fruits complemented by notes of pine nuts and Earl Grey tea.Very long finish. For me, it is a contemporary experience of the warmth of Grand Marnier liqueur.
Grand Marnier Cuvée du Centenaire – SAQ # 00108704 – $126.25
Crafted in 1927, Grand Marnier Cuvée du Centenaire celebrates the 100th anniversary of the house of Marnier-Lapostolle. This is an exceptional blend of refined XO cognacs with the essence of exotic bitter oranges. It contains 82 % XO cognac from Grande and Petite Champagne.
Beautiful scent of candied orange peel infused with exotic spices such as ginger and nutmeg. On the mouth, rich yet fine with a complex lingering finale reminiscent of Cuban tobacco, eucalyptus, honey and macerated oranges.
Photos for this article were provided as a courtesy by Grand Marnier
Wines of the week
As we enter into November and a bit closer to the winter, all I want to do is drink massive amounts of wine with hearty dishes such as beef and game stews with grain based soups such as lentils or chickpeas minestrone. Here are my top three recommendations-2 reds and 1 white of the moment. Trust me, I will have more in the weeks to come. Get these as soon as you can. Quantities are limited
Château de Nages Vieilles Vignes 2015 – SAQ # 12268231 – $18.60
Peppery with garrigue, menthol, and eucalyptus aromas. Structured and powerful with a spicy finale. Buy this wine as soon as you can
Mas Janeil Le Petit Pas 2016 – SAQ # 12561198 – $16.60
Sumptuous aromas of currants, tobacco, dark fruits with aromas of star anise and licorice. Rich yet balanced with caressing tannins.
Cave de Lugny Bourgogne les Chenaudières 2017 – white wine – SAQ # 13810782 – $19.55
A pretty white Bourgogne: Round and mellow redolent of tropical fruit, peach, pear and almond cream. For $19.55, it is music to my ears!!. Perfect wine for rich broccoli and cauliflower soups.
Marco Giovanetti – firstname.lastname@example.org