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5 Things You Didn’t Know about Cognac

Named for the town where it is produced in France, cognac is a type of brandy which mandates strict production methods before it can be referred to as cognac. It must be made from specified grapes, of which Ugni blanc, known locally as Saint-Emilion, is the one most widely used. Also, it must be twice distilled in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in French oak barrels from Limousin orTronçais. Here are a few interesting facts about cognac!

1. Cognac is the Champagne of brandy

Cognac is a type of brandy, or distilled wine, made in a delineated region of about 200,000 acres surrounding the town of Cognac, on France’s western coast. All Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac. The same way Champagne is only authentic when made in the Champagne region, Cognac is also only authentic when made in the Cognac region.

2. There are three main classifications for Cognac : VS, VSOP & XO

VS, or Very Special, has been aged at least two years (Cognacs marked with three stars are also VS); VSOP, or Very Superior Old Pale, has been aged at least four years; XO, or Extra Old, has been aged at least six years.

3. There are strict laws guiding the production of Cognac

There are pretty strict rules guiding the production of Cognac. Cognac must be made from one or a combination of just three types of grapes (Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, and Colombard). It must be aged for at least two years. It must be double-distilled in copper pot stills of a particular shape and configuration (Chartenais, after the French district where the process originated). Its grapes must be harvested only in October, and it must be distilled only from November 1st to March 31st.  Cognac has to be aged in barrels made from French oak from one of two specific forests. 

 

4. The darker the Cognac, the older it is

Younger Cognacs tend to be lighter and more honeyed in color; older Cognacs take on a rich amber hue thanks to the tannins of the oak barrels in which they’re aged.

5. The French don’t particularly like it.

Only 3% of Cognac is consumed in France. The rest is exported. Scotch is actually much more popular than Cognac in France.

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