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Cognac is produced in the South West of France, North of Bordeaux, near the Atlantic Ocean.
Appellation and soil:
There are 6 official areas of Appellation: Grande Champagne, also known as the 1st Cru; Petite Champagne; Borderies; Fins Bois; Bons Bois; and Bos Ordinaires. The soil in the region is mostly chalky.
Cognac is made from 98% Ugni Blanc grapes.
Double distillation in a Charentais still is mandated.
Limousin oak is used for its tannins and vanilla.
Legal ageing in wood is as follows:
VS must be a minimum of 2 years old
VSOP must be a minimum of 4 years old
Napoleon, Vieux, Extra must be a minimum of 6 years old
XO must be a minimum of 10 years old (starting 2018)
Vintages: Strict regulations make it difficult to produce vintages
The harvested grapes are pressed and the juice is left to ferment, giving a wine that is low in alcohol, but high in acidity.
The wine is then distilled twice: at the end of the first pass, the distilled spirit will be 30% alcohol; at the end of the second pass, the distilled spirit will be 70% alcohol.
It is then put in wood for ageing and later on will be blended and reduced with distilled water to about 40% alcohol.