Cognac has been universally recognized as one of the finest of all spirits distilled from grapes for the last three centuries. Incomparable qualities attributed to Cognac are intensity, subtlety of bouquet, fruitiness, warmth and above all, complexity of thousands of styles & flavors which are predominantly arising from a single variety of grape.
Making of Cognac
Two picture-postcard towns of Jarnac & Cognac located about 80 miles north of Bordeaux are home to industries manufacturing Cognac. Stretching from La Rochelle in north to Royan in west and Angouleme in East, this region is where almost 6,000 grape owners are involved in supplying white wine for distillation that go in the making of Cognac. Cognac is predominantly made with Ugni Blanc variety of grapes which are also known as Trebbiano.
Wines That Go in Cognac
Wines which go in the making of Cognac are characterized by low alcohol and high acidity. This is not particularly interesting to consume as they are, but after perfect distillation which happens twice in alembics or copper stills, the spirit is transformed. Subsequently, eau-de-vie is aged in Troncais or Limousin oak barrels. While Troncais barrel imparts lesser tannin along with a tighter grain, it is less powerful than Cognac aged in Limousin barrels. Moreover, aging in Troncais oak barrels are better suited for maturing Cognacs for longer. Nevertheless, typical alcohol content cut with water in the spirit of Cognac is usually 40 percent by volume.
Cognac is Aged Gracefully
There are a number of Cognac categories which reflect the time they have spent in the barrels. VS Cognac is ‘Very Special’ and is required to contain eaux-de-vie for no less than two years of time. VSOP is ‘Very Superior Old Pale’ and should remain in the barrel for at least four years of time. XO Cognacs are ‘Extra Old’ and which are six years old and labeled as Hors d’age, Extra or Napoleon. However, except for Napoleon, this time limit will rise to 10 years from 2018. Moreover, a large majority of XO Cognacs contain eaux-de-vie which is much older than the prescribed minimum.
While VS Cognacs are meant to be drunk along with ginger ale, tonic or a dash of bitters, or within cocktails, VSOP Cognacs are designed to be drunk neat or be mixed. XO Cognacs are enjoyed alone simply because extended aging adds multitude of aromas & flavors which tend to get lost in cocktails. Complexity of quite a few XO Cognacs is extraordinary and several of these display elusive rancio character which is redolent of dried fruits and Christmas cake.