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Cigar Review: Dona Flor Seleção Robusto

13 Jun 2012

Dona Flor, a top brand in Brazil for years, was once a darling of StogieGuys.com. The company’s blends earned high praise from my colleagues and I back in 2006 and 2007.

And then a funny thing happened. Dona Flor seemingly dropped off the face of the earth. I stopped seeing Dona Flor cigars in shops. I stopped hearing others talk about Dona Flor. And when my own stash ran out, I stopped smoking Dona Flor altogether. I never investigated why. I guess I just moved on and forgot about the company that introduced me to the notion of a Brazilian puro.

So imagine my surprise when I received a press release on June 5 proclaiming Dona Flor’s re-introduction to the American market. Evidently, shortly after the brand was first introduced to the U.S. in 2005, legal issues arose that blocked domestic distribution. But now, Chris Edge—a Denver-based cigar enthusiast and businessman—is bringing Dona Flor back to North America.

Several new blends have already been announced and are available for your perusal on Dona Flor’s website, along with a description of each of the three main tobaccos used in the company’s creations: Mata Fina, Mata Norte, and Brazilian-grown Cuban-seed. Today I’m taking a look at the Seleção Robusto (5 x 52), which uses a Mata Fina wrapper, a Mata Norte binder, and a filler blend of Mata Fina and Mata Norte tobaccos. This Brazilian puro achieved a 92 rating in Cigar Aficionado. It has a suggested retail price of $8.50.

Now while I’m somewhat of a sucker for Mata Fina, I’ll be the first to admit that the leaf doesn’t make the most attractive wrapper. Like me, most people appreciate this tobacco for its taste and aroma, not its aesthetics. The Seleção Robusto, as expected, is a rugged-looking specimen with a multitude of lumps and several large veins.

One of those veins runs the length of the cigar and contributes to an uneven burn. Veins are more combustible than leaves, and this is evident as the side of the Robusto with the vein burns significantly quicker than the rest of the cigar. But the vein doesn’t produce a canoe and the burn doesn’t require any touch-ups. After an inch, this issue completely resolves itself, and the physical properties are perfect from then on, including a solid, finely layered white ash.

The profile and aroma are the highlights of the Seleção Robusto. The taste is nicely balanced and includes a unique core of sour cream and some tangy notes that remind me of barbeque sauce. Dry wood, sweetness, and a touch of black pepper spice round out the flavor. And, not to be outdone, the resting smoke boasts loads of sweet coffee.

This is the 35th year Dona Flor has been in business and its second foray into the American market. Based on my experience with the Seleção Robusto, I hope Dona Flor will stay in my homeland for good this time. Expect to hear more from this Brazilian company at this summer’s industry trade show. Until then, I’m awarding this cigar four stogies out of five.

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

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Drew Estate

10 Responses to “Cigar Review: Dona Flor Seleção Robusto”

  1. stogiesontherocks Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    Very interesting. I'm glad someone brought them back into the country. Thanks for the insight as to what causes uneven cigar burns. I guess I just never noticed that a lot of it had to do with the vein running down the wrapper. Great stuff Patrick.

    • Patrick Ashby Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 11:44 am #

      By the way, on the vein issue, I learned at the Joya de Nicaragua factory that veins are sometimes prized as filler tobaccos because they burn so well and help with construction. This is why filler tobacco leaves are usually only partially de-veined. But a large wrapper vein that runs the length of a cigar on one side can also cause burn irregularities for the same reason.

      • stogiesontherocks Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 12:13 pm #

        Very cool! That's great info Patrick. It makes sense just never put it all together 🙂

  2. Francis Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    I used to smoke Dona Flors back in the day, too, partially because I kept reading about them at this site. I particularly liked a smoke called Alonso Menendez, but it doesn't look like that blend made the company's new lineup.

  3. Patrick Semmens Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    I too was a big fan of the Alonso Menendez, which was 100% Mata Fina tobacco. I don't know if it's exactly the same, but I see on Dona Flor's site that they do have a "Puro Mata Fina" variety, that is 100% Mata Fina. If you liked the A Menendez, that's probably the first place to start.

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