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Introduction to Cognac

Location: 

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.

Map of the Crus of the Cognac region

Grapes:

Cognac is made from 98% Ugni Blanc grapes.

Copper Cognac Alambic

Distillation:

Double distillation in a Charentais still is mandated.

 

Ageing:

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, Viex, Extra, XO must be a minimum of 6 years old

Vintages: Strict regulations make it difficult to produce vintages

 

Cognac barrels

Brief Process:

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.