Cognac is considered to be the world’s best brandy and one of the two most popular French-made brandies (the other is Armagnac). Cognac is obtained through a process of double distillation and has a rich deep taste. The quality of a cognac is not given by its age, but by its flavor and texture.
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1. It is named after the Cognac town, France
Cognac town is surrounded by six vine growing areas. The entire Cognac vineyard covers around 80.000 hectares and 15.000 plantations that produce white wine.
2. Trade in Cognac dates back to the 17th century
Cognac was first produced in the region of Charente-Meritime in France in 17th century.
3. The grapes variety used in cognac production are low in alcohol
Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, and Colombard are white grape varieties used in production of cognac. These grapes have a high level of acidity and a generally low alcohol content which doesn’t make it good for table wines, but perfect for brandy.
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4. Cognacs are separated into grades based on their age
Very Special (VS) refers to a brandy that has been stored for at least 2 years in oak casks.
Very Special Old Pale (VSOP) cognac is brandy that has been stored for at least 4 years in barrels. For this type of cognac even if the average age of the blend is much older than 4 years, the VSOP is given by the youngest brandy added in the blend.
Extra Old (XO) indicates a brandy that has been stored for at least 6 years. For XO the grade is given in the same conditions like for VSOP. The average age of a brandy in an XO cognac can reach even 20 years.
5. In the process of grape fermentation it is forbidden to add sugar
Since 1936, due to the Decree of May 15, adding sugar to the process of fermentation is forbidden. With sugar, the alcohol level of the wine will increase. Sulfur is also considered an undesirable element in the final taste of the brandy, so adding sulfur is avoided.
6. After the double distillation a clear liquid named eau-de-vie is obtained
After the fermentation process the wine is heated between 8 to 10 hours until the alcohol vaporizes and separates from the rest of the liquid. The condensed liquid is heated again. The remaining liquid is the “eau de vie” (or the spirit).
7. 10 liters of white wine equals 1 liter of eau-de-vie
8. During the aging process the wood transfers its tannin to the spirit
An eau-de-vie becomes Cognac after it has been slowly matured in oak casks. The wood used for the oaks comes from the 100 year old Oak trees in France, from Limousin or Troncais forests.
9. Cognac is never made from a single distillery, or vineyard
This sophisticated alcohol drink is a mixture of eau-de-vie produced in different growing areas, with different ages. In the process of creating a good quality cognac there can be used more than one thousand types of eau-de vie.
10. The process of blending is done by a Cellar Master
The assembly of different “eau de vie” is made by Cellar Masters who are experienced professionals that decide the ‘personality’ of a particular Cognac. Cellar Masters judge the quality of a cognac by tasting and smelling.
11. In France the minimum of alcohol by volume must be 40 % (1936 Decree) in order to be sold to customers.
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