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Stogie Reviews: CAO Gold Vintage Crémant

14 Jan 2010

For years, the Gold blend has been the mild mainstay of CAO’s lineup of otherwise stronger cigars. Tim Ozgener, president of the Nashville-based company, told me in a 2008 interview that he reaches for a CAO Gold Lonsdale in the morning when he wants “a nice, smooth, buttery cigar to accompany my morning coffee.”

But this summer he and his team decided to change things up. At the IPCPR Trade Show, CAO unveiled the new Gold Vintage line—a re-blend that was sparked by a “banner harvest” for what would become the inaugural wrapper.

Each Gold Vintage includes a delicate exterior leaf grown in Ecuador in 2004. This was a year that, according to CAO’s website, “offered the perfect combination of climate, rainfall, and soil” in the South American country. The binder is Nicaraguan and the habano-seed filler is a combination of tobaccos from Jamastran and Estelí. This new blend, manufactured at the CAO Fabrica de Tabacos in Estelí, is offered in two formats: a stubby figurado called “Bouchon” (4.9 x 60) and the Crémant (6 x 52).

I sampled two Crémants for this review. This size features a smooth and seamless golden wrapper, a spongy feel, and soft pre-light notes of dry grass and honey. It’s one of those cigars that gives the impression it’s going to burn well.

And it does. From light to nub, the Crémant is a set-it-and-forget-it stick with excellent construction. The burn is straight with a clean and shiny mascara, the draw is easy, and the ash layers well for a firm hold. No problems there.

I wish, however, the flavor were a bit more exciting, especially for a cigar that sells for roughly $8 apiece or $75 for a box of 10. The profile is light and airy with traces of almond, cream, and oak. Tasty, but lacking in complexity or development. That’s why the Crémant has trouble holding my attention only halfway into the 90-minute smoke.

This criticism, mind you, comes from a cigar enthusiast who regularly fires up mild cigars. While some smokers often confuse quality with strength, mild cigars have always had a special place in my rotation. These include Ybor City Handmades, Davidoff, Don Kiki’s White Label, and Paul Garmirian, among others.

Besides being mild, all of these cigars have one thing in common: that special something that keeps me immersed and coming back for more. It’s my own fault that I can’t really put this feeling into words. What I can say, though, is that the CAO Gold Vintage Crémant, while well-built and smooth, isn’t in the same class. It earns three stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

4 Responses to “Stogie Reviews: CAO Gold Vintage Crémant”

  1. Mike Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 6:44 am #

    I saw these at a cigar bar in Orlando a few months ago and the owner could not tell me what the story was behind them. Haven't smoked it yet, but now I know. Thanks.

    I like regular CAO Golds.

  2. dmjones Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 8:44 am #

    Good review, Patrick, but I completely disagree with you. I have enjoyed the new Connecticuts from Camacho, Oliva and Xikar…all of the very flavorful and just at the upper end of the "mild" range in body. I have also enjoyed similar flavor profiles and upper-mild body in cigars that just plain cost too much, like the Avo 787 and Davidoff Millennium Blend. For my money…and my taste…the CAO Gold Vintage is better than any of the first three I mentioned (for just a little more cash) and just as good as the last two (at a far, far lower price).

    Everyone's entitled to their own opinion on these things, of course, and mine is this: the CAO Gold Vintage is my new favorite mild cigar. I like it enough to buy a whole box (a very rare occurrence for me).

  3. mighty Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 9:29 am #

    I have not tried this particular cigar, but I also enjoy a good mild cigar. I need some flavor though in my cigars which is why (for MY tastes) the Macanudo and Romeo y Julietas (Domestic) just aren't my thing. They are mild, but not enough flavor.

    I like the Dunhill blue label, Oliva Connecticuts, Buteras, Don Pepin "red label" (forgot actual name, it's Don Pepin's own cigar with Red label), and even a Camacho Conn. once in awhile. I also like La Flor Dom.

    premium line as it is mild and as a slight floral note on the finish.

    Dunhills are really expensive so I find myself smoking a lot of the Olivas when I am in a mood for a mild cigar.

  4. Patrick A Thursday, January 14, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    Thanks for the feedback, guys.

    dmjones: I’m glad you’ve found something you like. It isn’t too difficult for me to see how one might find the CAO Gold Vintage box-worthy, but I still can’t ever see this blend in my regular rotation of mild cigars (which, by the way, includes the Oliva and Camacho Connecticut). Different strokes, I guess…