Just got back from dinner at a local pizzeria.
On the drive home, as I was savoring the lingering aftertaste of the wild mushroom, taleggio and fontina pizza we had enjoyed, I was in the mood for a fine cigar. The question was…which vitola should I choose?
The pizza had been allowed to develop spots of black char on the edges while in the oven–almost excessively so–but it actually worked amazingly well with the combination of toppings. The carbon-like aftertaste of the burnt edges combined with the rich, earthy flavor of the wild mushroom and was incredibly soul-satisfying–in an almost primal way. And it was very gently balanced by the slight sweetness of the talegio / fontina mix.
So I decided on a vitola that had its fair share of earthy, musky elements, but is also relatively light and bright–so it wouldn’t compete with the earth-bomb of the pizza I just had.
And that’s how I landed on the Rafael Gonzales Petit Corona.
This is a super complex vitola that has a chameleon-like ability to change in flavor from year to year. It can be aged a long time, and all for the better, but between 3-5 years of age, it has a tangy-grassy pop that I just love. That component has an effect on the palate that makes it taste stronger than it actually is–and it is a bit deceiving. What is great about that is that it really pairs well with more intensely flavored meals. It is as if that tang helps it to stand up better to stronger flavors in food, but it in no way competes with them–because the backbone of the cigar is still light. Make sense?
I enjoy cigars by this brand immensely, and I can’t believe that only 3 vitolas remain the the line–the totally handmade tripa larga Petit Coronas and Perlas, and the totally handmade tripa corta Panatelas Extra. They’ve discontinued the Coronas Extra and the Lonsdales, among others. Both exceptional cigars. Tastes change though, and consumers just aren’t buying longer, elegant, refined vitolas in 42 RG like Cervantes (Lonsdale) , Dalias (8-9-8), and Corona Grandes (Long Corona) anymore. These vitolas are a dying breed.
I miss the hell out of them.
I struggle daily with the reality that lots of cigar smokers want fatter and fatter cigars with in-your-face flavors, a disproportionate amount of palate-assaulting ligero in the blends, and darker and darker wrappers in which fermentation has been pushed to the extreme. I really don’t think that leaves much opportunity to cultivate a well rounded palate. But its all subjective right?
I’m now about 1/3 in to the petit corona. As I had mentioned, the tangy-pop is something that the younger ones possess, and this is no exception. I taste earth, tang, bean and cacao, but not in any particular order–they all meld pretty well together. The body is light-to-medium.
Nice ash. Love the feel of the squared off body between my fingers.
Good draw–pretty even burn.
A bit of chalkiness.
It has a grassy / piquant aroma that has amazing staying power–it just hangs.
Further in to the cigar, the tang is more and more pronounced–not overwhelmingly so, but quite omnipresent. Something I know will be smoothed and restrained with further aging.
The short and sweet?
Great as a nice counterpoint to an earthy / rich meal due to its earthy, light to medium flavor.
Needs age to lose the pretty forward tang when the cigar is young.