This is a place to discuss all things Cognac. For those of you still curious to the ins and outs of cognac, here's a quick breakdown:
Overview said:Cognac, named after the town of Cognac in France, is a variety of brandy. It is produced in the wine-growing region surrounding the town from which it takes its name, in the French Departements of Charente and Charente-Maritime.
For a distilled brandy to bear the name Cognac, an Appellation d'origine contrôlée, its production methods must meet certain legal requirements. In particular, it must be made from specified grapes (see below), of which Ugni blanc, known locally as Saint-Emilion, is the one most widely used. The brandy must be twice distilled in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in French oak barrels from Limousin or Tronçais. Cognac matures in the same way as whiskies and wine when aged in barrels, and most cognacs are aged considerably longer than the minimum legal requirement.
- V.S. ("very special or superior"), Very Special, or ✯✯✯ (three stars) designates a blend in which the youngest brandy has been stored for at least two years in cask.
- V.S.O.P. ("very special or superior old pale") designates a blend in which the youngest brandy is stored for at least four years in a cask, but the average wood age is much greater.
- XO ("extra old") designates a blend in which the youngest brandy is stored for at least six years but on average for upwards of 20 years. In 2016, the minimum storage age of the youngest brandy used in an XO blend will be set to ten years.
Special Grade Designations said:
- Napoleon is a grade equal to XO in terms of minimum age, but it is generally marketed in-between VSOP and XO in the product range offered by the producers.
- Extra designates a minimum of 6 years of age, this grade is usually older than a Napoleon or an XO.
- Vieux is another grade between the official grades of VSOP and XO.
- Vieille Réserve is, like the Hors d´Âge, a grade beyond XO.
- Hors d'âge ("beyond age") is a designation which BNIC states is equal to XO, but in practice the term is used by producers to market a high-quality product beyond the official age scale.
- Grande Champagne (13,766 hectares (34,020 acres)) Grande Champagne eaux de vie are long in the mouth and powerful, dominated by floral notes. "Champagne" derives from the Roman "Campania" meaning Plain, but is often explained with similarity in soil with the Champagne area at Reims.
- Petite Champagne (16,171 hectares (39,960 acres)) Petite Champagne eaux de vie have similar characteristics to those from Grande Champagne but are in general shorter on the palate. Cognacs made from a mixture of Grande and Petite Champagne eaux de vie (with at least 50% Grande Champagne) may be marketed as "Fine Champagne".
- Borderies (4,160 hectares (10,300 acres)) The smallest cru, eaux de vie from the Borderies are the most distinctive, with nutty aromas and flavor, as well as a distinct violet or iris characteristic.
- Fins Bois (34,265 hectares (84,670 acres)) Heavier and faster aging eaux de vie ideal for establishing the base of some blended cognacs. Fins Bois is rounded and fruity, with an oiliness.
- Bons Bois
- Bois Ordinaires (19,979 hectares (49,370 acres) together with Bons Bois). Further out from the four central growth areas are the Bons Bois and the Bois Ordinaires grown regions. With a poorer soil and very much influenced by the maritime climate, this area of 20,000 hectares produces eaux de vie that are less demonstrative and age more quickly.