Cognac is so famous that it is often used as a synonym for the genus brandy. Learn more about this unique fine beverage, which fascinates the connoisseurs of the whole world. Cognac is made by burning wine from a particular region according to established rules. Therefore, cognac is a brandy of a special kind.
Where does the cognac come from?
The region of origin of the Cognac is located in the southwest, about 80 kilometers northeast of Bordeaux. The area is called "Charente" after the main river of the region. The name for the drink was the capital of the Charente, the city of Cognac. Climatically, the Charente is characterized by the relatively cool Atlantic climate.
From the grapes grown there, a wine is produced at about eight percent by volume. This is distilled over the winter months in a traditional distillery. Due to its special production method and the double burning of the wine Cognac becomes an incomparably complex, ripe product of approximately 40 volume percent alcohol.
Why is cognac worth its price?
Cognac is subject to largely defined production regulations. From 10 barrels of wine you get about a barrel of cognac. Only the heart of the second fire, the "coeur", the purest and the best, is used for the production of cognac. Cognac must be stored for at least two and a half years with the manufacturer in a wooden barrel. However, most cognacs are much older, and may contain ingredients from more than 50 or 100 years old cognacs from the treasury, the "Paradis".
Every year about four percent of the cognac volume evaporates in the producers' barrels. This "portion of the angels" (la part des anges) corresponds approximately to the amount of cognac exported to Germany per year. The young distillate, called "Eau-de-vie", is stored in wooden barrels made of "Limousin" or "Troncais" oak. This wood gives the cognac proper breathing and tannins (tannins). In many Cognac houses today own Fassküfer, "tonneliers" called.
The grape varieties and the soil
In good cognac you can feel the fruit of the grapes. In the Charente, 90% of the white grape variety "Ugni Blanc" is planted. It is called by the winemakers also "St. Emilion", but corresponds to the Italian Trebbiano variety. Furthermore, the grape varieties "Colombard" and "Folle Blanc" are used.
Good Cognac, however, not only tastes of wine, it has a brilliant, expressive fullness with a champagne finesse, which he receives especially through the chalk soils. The classification of the cognac according to the origin takes place depending on the chalk content in the topsoil. There is the following classification of quality:
- (1) Grande Champagne: approximately 35 percent chalk content
- (2) Petite Champagne: about 25 percent chalk content
- (3) Borderies: about 15 percent chalk content
- (4) Fins Bois
- (5) Bon's Bois
- (6) Bois Ordinaires
"Fine Champagne" means that at least 50 percent comes from the "Grande Champagne", the remainder from the "Petite Champagne". The regions of origin are partly ring shaped around the "Grande Champagne". The further away the wine has grown from this kernel, the sooner it usually ripens and the more fruity the cognac precipitates.
The ages of cognac
The age of the cognac in the production is officially classified according to the following classification:
- "VS" (Very Special, 3 stars): At least two and a half years maturity
- "VSOP" (Very Super Old Pale, "VO", 5 stars): at least four and a half years barrel maturity
- "XO" (Extra Old, Napoleon, "Vielle Reserve"): at least six and a half years Fassreifung
Often cognacs are stored longer than the legal minimum storage requirements. The quality name of a cognac always refers to the most recent distillate in the compilation.
Cognac can be stored almost indefinitely. Drink it at room temperature. At 18 to 20 degrees Celsius, it best unfolds its scent and taste. Be sure to use tulip-shaped cognac glasses. Enjoy cognac, for example, as a digestive or while reading the newspaper or a good book.