L'esprit de Verite 2008 (Robusto), 5 x 50
Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Criollo
|Cigar age||2 yr. 6.5 mo.|
BACKGROUND: The Tatuaje L’esprit de Verite 2008 was first featured on the Stogie Fresh 5 podcast in Episode 236 on Sunday, August 29, 2010. These cigars have now been resting in the Stogie Fresh archives for a little over 2.5 years awaiting their shot at a postscript review.
Pete Johnson, the owner of Tatuaje cigars, became one of the prime movers in the boutique cigar segment of the industry. He also became one of the leaders in creating and promoting fuller-bodied cigars. Pete would go on to not only in blend a wide variety of unique cigar creations, but would also push out of the box with seemingly outlandish marketing schemes that all had one thing in common: they worked.
One of Pete's latest achievements is the Tatuaje La Verite line of cigars. This line comes in two blends: the La Verité and the L’esprit de Verité.
With this line of cigars, Johnson is essentially taking a vintner’s approach to cigarmaking by creating a brand using tobacco from a single vintage and a single farm. He said that his love for great Bordeaux wine inspired him to do this. He also noted the fact that there has never been a true vintage cigar in the cigar marketplace as all the other so called vintage cigars are not really vintage cigars in the same sense as the term is used in the wine industry.
So, just like wine, the eventual cigar blend would be based on what the soil and seeds end up providing during a given crop year. This is the essence of La Verite, ONE FARM, ONE VINTAGE. And he went on to say that he will use only one crop year for each release. The SEED VARIETAL will change from year-to-year, based on the crop planted and the tobacco yielded, but the basic formula will stay the same: ONE FARM, ONE VINTAGE, ONE CROP YEAR.
The first release was from the crop of 2008 and that is what I am reviewing today. [Note: Pete has already released the 2009 La Verite and it contains a mix of Habano, Criollo and Pelo de Oro tobaccos.]
Other interesting fact about the La Verite line of cigars is that Pete selects the best of the best tobacco from the crop during the bulk fermentation and then they just let it ferment. They don’t sort the tobacco by size or color until the fermentation is complete and all the impurities are out. Pete says that, “After selection, we skip the baling process and start production of the cigars. This is to allow strength and any secondary fermentation to happen in the cigar and not in the bales.” He goes on to say that, “The cigars are then aged in 500 count aging bins for approximately one year. This is to mellow out any tannins similar to wine.”
Of the two different cigars in the line, I liken the La Verite to a Bordeaux First-growth, and the L’esprit de Verite as a “Second-growth.” I believe the La Verite is blended for more strength and longer aging than the L’esprit de Verite.
So, that brings us to our postscript cigar, the L’esprit de Verite. This cigar entirely consists of Criollo tobacco grown from Habano seed in the La Estrella farm in Nicaragua. This may be the only time, ever, that Pete will use a single tobacco varietal and that is simply because it was the very first planting in that particular farm and they only planted one variety. So the difference in the 2 blends for the 2008 harvest amounts to changing the number of leaves from the different parts of the plant. The upper portions of the tobacco plant have more strength and flavor, while the lower parts have less strength and flavor, but more burnability. So you just develop your blend from using different proportions of upper, lower and middle leaves.
Johnson took a decidedly unorthodox approach to constructing this brand. Not only is he using tobacco from just one year and from only one farm, he has also skipped the traditional aging process, by letting the tobacco age in the form of completed cigars. This technique bypasses the typical practice aging the tobacco in bales for 2-3 years before using the tobacco to make cigars. Well, as I said before, nobody has every accused Pete Johnson of being orthodox, whether in his blending practices, packaging or marketing.
Today's featured cigar is the 5-inch by 50 ring gauge L'esprit de Verite 2008 Robusto.
TASTING NOTES: The cigar starts out a little dry in character, but the flavor is huge on the palate, which surprised me, given the extra aging on this stick. The L'esprit de Verite sports a mouthful of oak wood on the palate and white pepper spice on the retrohale. As this stick warms up it starts showing all kinds of complexity. I was getting notes of vanilla and corn mash on one hand, and fresh cut hay and grassiness on the other.
The flavors are so bright on the palate that this seems like a much younger cigar than its age reflects. Though these cigars spent a year in an aging room after being manufactured they are still lacking the 2-3 years that most tobacco gets in the bale before being made into cigars. Using a wine description, this cigar is still showing some tannins and I believe it will have much more successful aging in its future.
By the second half I was getting rich and bright flavors on the palate including a bit of red chili pepper on my lips.
FINAL THOUGHTS: A year ago in my review of these cigars I said I was, “uncertain as to their aging potential.” I can state much more clearly at this time that these cigars do, indeed, have good aging potential.
The La Verite line of cigars is a great experiment in aging and in manufacturing single harvest and single appellation (farm) cigars. This is another in a long line of great creations from Pete Johnson and Tatuaje and I look forward to seeing what the future will bring. The L'esprit de Verite has not yet achieved the balance that I think it will achieve in the future, but it is still an impressive smoke. At $16 per stick, this cigar may be out of the price range of many cigar smokers. However, I want to give some props to Pete Johnson for providing a true vintage smoke and for committing to continuing this vintage cigar program into the future. This is a true archive smoke and begs to be purchased by the box and settled into your humidor for the long haul.
This is the second and final postscript review on the L'esprit de Verite 2008. These cigars are kept in their original box of 10 cigars, wrapped in a wax paper bundle. I keep the box in an M+ Aristocrat cabinet humidor, which is set at 68%RH.
The cigars have now been resting in my humidor for 2 years, 6.5 months and I pulled out cigars number 5 and 6 of a total of 10 to smoke for this review.
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