1980 Lemorton (bottled 2020) - 40%
1989 Lemorton (bottled 2019) - 40%
1999 Lemorton (bottled 2020) - 40%
Domfrontais Calvados requires 30% pear in the blend, but producer Lemorton ups the ante with ~70% pear. Many of the trees on their property are over 200 years old, and there are over 40 varieties of apples and pears on site. By all accounts, it still appears to be a rather small operation mostly helmed by Didier and Martine Lemorton. On his product sheet, Charles Neal recommends the 1970s vintages. I used the 1989 as an entry point. After enjoying it, I picked up an older and younger vintage for comparison.
All three vintages deliver nice weight on the palate with expressive noses - unhampered by the reduced ABV. The pours aren't long on the palate in terms of the heat or structure, but the flavor doesn't ghost either - rich up front, satisfying mid-palate, light toward the back, still long on flavor. Despite a slight preference for high proof spirits, these are all satisfying at 40%.
The youngest vintage, 1999, is more angular and tart. While complex, some of the farm funk, wood varnish, and fresh fruits miss their transitions playing disjointed and thin- at times spirit-y. The 1989 is deeper, more round, full, and integrated - flavors tumble and roll around each other. The fruits are layered with fresh and baked notes. Plenty of warming spices and complex wood. The 1980 drinks oak heavy next to the 1989, but doesn't suffer as much from the oak when tasted solo. The weight and slower movement on the palate helps support the oak which is fortunately rich and plays well with the return of faint barnyard notes similar but lighter than the 1999. The fruits and sweets hit quick up front and around the edges before the wood takes center stage.
I also worked through a bottle of the 25 year (not pictured). I found that expression significantly lighter than these three expressions and less memorable in general.
1999: 6 (Above Average) This is a fun share. Rowdy, complex, and hits some very clear notes. Memorable, but a little rough around the edges.
1989: 8 (Stash One) Rich and satisfying. Approachable and balanced enough that new spirits enthusiasts will have an easy time with it. Layered and interesting enough that seasoned palates will stay engaged.
1980: 7 (Highly Recommend) The bigger oak presence will be an easy pivot for fans of armagnac (new oak heavy) and high rye whiskey.
10 - Reevaluate The Budget
9 - Stash Two (If Able)
8 - Stash One (At The Right Price)
7 - Highly Recommend It To Strangers
6 - Solid - Above Average
5 - Acceptable For The Situation
4 - Not Vocally Complaining
3 - Anything Else To Drink?
2 - Nothing Nice To Say
1 - Drain Pour