I received a sample of Paul-Marie & Fils Cognac, a brand independently bottled by Nicolas Palazzi. Palazzi is buying single casks of cognac and hand bottling them unfiltered and at full cask strength. He apparently has a few bottlings under different names and this is the first under the Paul-Marie & Fils label.
The one he sent me to try is the Devant La Porte barrel, meaning "the barrel in front of the door". Devant La Porte was distilled in 1951 and bottled in August of 2009. The cask produced 257 bottles at the full 51% alcohol and they retail for a suggested $600 each.
This cognac is a dark copper in color, with an aroma typical of well-aged grapes- a slightly gamey (rancio?) wet redwood with a fresh grape and raisin and slight chocolate backing. On the palate it bursts with dusty fruitcake flavors- dried apricots, pears in syrup, fruit leather, regular leather, bitter tobacco, hot car vinyl, dried oranges. It must be pretty acidic, because my mouth began salivating like crazy- I'm practically drooling. With each successive sip I'm getting more and more flavors and the aftertaste just lingers forever.
In short, this is really freaking delicious cognac.
I was a bit worried when Palazzi said this was bottled at cask strength- thinking that would be good for mixing but not sipping at that high proof- but I was way wrong. This cognac is too good for mixing (at its price point it sure ought to be) and there is nothing too hot about it even at 51% alcohol. I say drink it at full proof and just have fewer sips- it will last longer than way too.