CognacQuelques repères sur le cognac La zone géographique de production du cognac s'étend principalement sur les départements de Charente et Charente Maritime. Six crus la délimitent : la Grande et la Petite Champagne, les Borderies, les Fins Bois, les Bons Bois et les Bois ordinaires ou à terroir.
Some information concerning cognac
The area designated as suitable for the production of cognac covers the Charente and the Charente Maritime. The cognac region is defined by six growth areas: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois and Bois Ordinaires or “à terroir”.
The grape which is harvested comes exclusively from a white variety (ugni blanc). The wine is then distilled in special Charentais stills. The “heart” of the second distillation will become cognac after having aged in oak barrels for a minimum of 2 1/2 years, after which it can be sold on the market.
The main categories obtained from the blending of eaux-de-vie of different ages and different growth areas are:
*** and V.S. : minimum age of the youngest eau-de-vie used in the blend must be 2 years
V.S.O.P. : 4 years. Very Superior Old Pale
Napoléon and X.O. :6 years
Each company, in order to obtain the uniqueness of its categories of cognac, uses eaux-de-vie which are much older than the minimum requirement.
Cognac is an alcohol whose special characteristics depend on four conditions :
75 000 hectares (200 000 acres) of vines, unique climatic conditions, the soil and the proximity of the sea make the Charente region “a happy chance of nature, a lucky exception”.
Double distillation in Charentais pot stills
The ageing of cognac can only take place in barrels made of oak from the Limousin or Tronçais forests. In fact the eau-de-vie will only become cognac after a slow ageing process in oak specially selected for its capacity to transfer the tanins when in contact with the alcohol, thus giving it colour and “bouquet”.
The blending operation and the know-how of the “maître de chai” are handed down from generaton to generation.
How to drink cognac
Cognac can be appreciated in many ways: as an after dinner drink or as an apéritif, neat or with mixers, with ice or as a cocktail. Anything is possible with this eau-de-vie of many flavours.
The only determining factors are the time and place you choose to drink it.