What to Drink Now: HINE Cognac Bonneuil 2005

Hine's new single-estate vintage release is the best and most unexpected cognac we've tasted all year.

After 250 years of upholding one highly esteemed cognac-making tradition, prized cognac house HINE branches out from their centuries-old blending process for the first time to launch a brand-new, limited-offering collection of single-estate cognacs.

Rather than create an expression using grapes harvested from across the cognac region—which are then distilled, aged in barrels and blended before bottling, as cognacs often are—this novel single-batch line focuses instead on a specific grape from a particular growing region from one harvest. “It’s is simply the closest you can get to the vine,” says HINE brand ambassador Per Even Allaire says of the style, which showcases the unique nuances of time, place and grape in a way blending simply cannot.

Their first vintage, Bonneuil 2005 ($138), which launched earlier this month, highlights Ugni Blanc grapes that were plucked from HINE estate’s premiere vineyards in Grande Champagne in 2005. (HINE is one of few houses in the Cognac region to have its own vineyard.) Thanks to a particularly mild winter and dry, warm growing season, the grape—a varietal that matures later in the season and produces a delicate, yet dry white wine—had time to flower early on the vine and reach its full maturity before harvest.

The result is a delightfully bright and structured cognac that is entirely unique to the 18 casks produced. With its inviting nose of pear, melon, green apple, honey and licorice, silky mouth feel and bold flavors of baked peaches and pears, Meyer lemon, baking spices, honey and toasted straw, it’s no wonder why HINE cellar master Eric Forget chose the vintage to stand on its own.

Only 8,100 bottles of this expression were made, 400 of which will hit U.S. shelves this November. Cognac enthusiasts should snap them up while they're available—or risk having to wait for the next yet-to-be-scheduled single-estate vintage release.