Thursday, February 21, 2008

Arturo Fuente Sun Grown Chateau
Size: 4.5 x 50
Filler: Dominican
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Sun Grown
Price: $3.85 (box price)

Billy Ferriolo, from CigarsDirect (a great online site that specializes in high-end superpremiums), gifted me three of these very popular cigars. You can tell a Fuente Sungrown apart from its shade grown siblings based on the colors on the band. The sun grown has a black ribbon under the Fuente logo. The others have a green ribbon.

My only prior experience with sun grown cigars were the Carlos Torano Signature, 5 Vegas Limitada, and Punch Gran Puro. The term "sun grown" is applied to tobacco that is grown in open fields with direct exposure to sunlight, which causes the leaves to become thicker, oiler, and produces pronounced veins. They are often used as wrappers for full-bodied cigars, although they are not usually as full as maduros. These cigars are often distinguished from "shade grown" wrappers which are grown under fine gauze sheets called tapados; shade grown wrappers are usually thinner, more attractive, and have more subtle nuanced flavors.

Appearance: The cigar comes dressed in a cedar wrapper. It is dark brown, the color being somewhere between a natural and a maduro. The cigar is smooth and heavy, with densely packed tobacco. It has a spicy prelight aroma.

First impressions: Don't get me wrong, I still love the Fuente 858 (the best of the Gran Reserva line, tastes like a Hemingway)... but this takes Gran Reserva to a whole new level. It has more flavor and more body. It should be enjoyed on a full stomach, paired with a strong single malt scotch. It's not an everyday cigar; it needs to be chosen to fit a certain mood, reserved for times when you can savor the experience.

Overall experience: It features the two best qualities I like in a cigar: lots of spice, and complex flavors. It has a smoky, dry draw. Tastes shift throughout the experience, from hot and bitter at first, then slowly transitioning to smoky and sweet. It is very similar to a JdN, but with a better finish that stays with you for hours after the cigar is finished.

The only drawback--and it is a big one-- is size. At 4.5 inches, this cigar needs a larger ring guage to keep it from getting too hot. I felt like the flavors were fighting with the heat for my attention. Small ring gauges are fine for mild smokes, but they can intensify a strong cigar too much. A better size for this blend would be the Chateau King B (6 x 55).

C&S: 8 / 10.

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