On April 15th, 2015, L’Atelier released its first new blend in quite a while (since 2013’s Extension de la Racine). Pete Johnson, owner of L’Atelier imports and French wine enthusiast, worked with the Garcia family to produce some of their most coveted tobacco—Pelo de Oro. Pelo de Oro tobacco is some of the hardest to work with, as it produces extremely low yields and requires more difficult growing conditions, also being very prone to producing mold. All adversities aside, Pelo de Oro tobacco is held as some of the highest quality in the world, and when the Garcia family successfully produced a hefty batch—well, Pete couldn’t resist using it to create a new blend.
Côte d’Or is French for “Gold Coast”, it is also the name of a famous French Burgundy wine growing region (naturally, Johnson named it accordingly). As with the tobacco, the vineyards grown in this region are equally as difficult to produce, as well as equally sought-after by wine enthusiasts around the globe. The Côte d’Or uses a special, hybrid, Ecuadorian wrapper called Sancti Spíritus (also used on the LAT Selection Spéciale). This wrapper is made up of Criollo seed and the desirable Pelo de Oro. The cigar also features a duel binder (L’Atelier has kept that blend secret) and the prized Pelo de Oro Nicaraguan filler that gives the blend its illustrious status (read: price point).
With such premium tobacco, it’s no surprise to see an equally premium price tag. At a minimum of $16 (depending on your tax region), this is easily L’Atelier’s most premium cigar. But does the Pelo de Oro tobacco really deserve such prestige?
Côte d’Or Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sancti Spíritus Hybrid (Pelo de Oro and Criollo seed)
- Binder: Duel binder (undisclosed)
- Filler: Pelo de Oro (Nicaraguan)
- Factory: My Father Cigars S.A. (Nicaragua)
- Production: Limited edition (21,000 cigars)
- Vitola: 7″ x 47 churchill
- Price: $16.00
The cigar itself is very beautiful, boasting a gold and white band, along with a white satin foot sleeve; the overall presentation speaks premium. The Côte d’Or is covered with a dark espresso, satiny finish wrapper. There is little tooth to be seen and it’s slightly oily, with small veins and a few visible seams throughout.
The triple cap takes a straight cut, nice and clean, and the pre-light reveals a great draw, as well as notes of cedar and fermented coffee grounds. After a gentle toast, the Côte d’Or releases a marvelous fragrance of cedar wood, espresso, and a deep earth. The first puff confirms the perfect draw, allowing lots of thick smoke to pass through the tobacco. Cocoa and a light spice come out of the draw, and the finish is a spicy bomb of white pepper. With added pepper and anise, the retro-hale amplifies the spice even more, but still maintains a remarkably smooth smoke.
After a few minutes, the spice almost quickly dissolved, leaving me with a nice balance of subtle sugar cane, bitter chocolate, and full-bodied pepper. But after a good chunk into the first third, the spice came right back—as spicy as ever! The spice is gentle enough to not overpower the other flavors, but it still packs a decent punch. More added notes of cedar wood and cocoa deepen the draw flavors, but always finishing with a pepper bomb.
Around the halfway point on the churchill, it required one touch up. The cigar’s wrapper fully went out and almost started tunneling. After touching up all around the wrapper, the cigar was well lit again, but not without consequence. After that first (and only) touch up, the cigar’s smoke never maintained the thickness it started out with. Every draw required at least two to three puffs, and even on the third puff, the smoke amount was still unsatisfying.
The flavors, however, are nothing of the sort. Continued notes of cedar, earth, cocoa, and lots of pepper remained throughout the entire stick, but never in a boring fashion. I found that at times the pepper was dominating the palate (the entire first third), and at other times the gentle cedar and cocoa took control (halfway point to the nub). These changes aren’t necessarily transitions, but they do help the smoke stay lively with bits of diversity.
Down to the nub, the cigar kept burning as sharp as a knife, needed no touch-ups, as far as the burn line is concerned. The draw remained perfect and the flavors strong, although the strength did take a step above the body towards the last third. Finishing out, the cigar left further notes of pepper, spice, cocoa, a bit of an added citrus, strong cedar wood, and a dominating deep earth to top it off.
Would I smoke this cigar again?
It’s hard to say. For me, a $16 price tag is hard to justify—I can usually find comfort with a nice $5-10 smoke. For a maduro, it is one of the most complex around and certainly very tasty. In my opinion, the Côte d’Or is a sacred maduro, one to be enjoyed on special occasions.
- Perfect Draw
- Complex Maduro Flavors
- Long Ash/Perfect Burn
- Low Smoke Output
- Price Tag