Odds are if you've seen a Cartron product before, it was one of the liqueurs they produce rather than their grappa. What began as a wholesale lemonade business in the 19th century was transformed into a producer of liqueurs and marc de Bourgogne during the 20th century.
This marc is produced entirely from Burgundy Pinot Noir pomace, which is aged for 15 years before being bottled at 42% (according to their website), probably without coloring or filtration.
Thanks to Florin for this sample.
Cartron Marc de Bourgogne 15 Year Hors d'Age
Nose: the rougher grappa notes have been polished into something resembling a more refined version of the original grape pomace, there are leathery and gingerbread notes that I associate with Campbeltown malts, gently floral, savory/nutty, some more rounded grape and apple, hints of oak in the background. After adding a few drops of water it becomes even smoother, the leather and oak are emphasized, and it feels more mature if less complex.
Taste: fairly restrained fruity sweetness up front, quickly joined by sharper herbal notes of grappa - not much progression. After dilution the sweetness is increased but doesn't go over the top, there's some berries right behind, the grappa notes are more well-integrated and more herbal, but there's little additional complexity.
Finish: rather floral, well-integrated grappa notes, gentle grape sweetness, leather, rounded oak and chocolate bitterness
Compared to the Labet I reviewed earlier this week, this is a much more refined marc. Some of that may simply be additional time in the cask, but the spirit itself also seems more delicate. The pale color makes me think that these were relatively inactive casks, so any polishing has primarily been about time rather than oak. With that said, it's absolutely not lacking in intensity - the aromas practically jumping out of the glass even with a lower bottling proof than the Labet.
In terms of similarities, one thing I noticed is that once again most of the action is happening in the aromas and finish. The flavors, while not bad, were not especially engaging and didn't show any development. That forces this to be something of a more contemplative spirit, since getting the most out of it requires more focused attention and nosing. While I'm not sure it's what I want to be drinking every day, it is growing on me and I think I'll be searching for more marc de Bourgogne in future.
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