Cognac is a historical drink: it attracts and thickens information. Drink memory, if you will. He draws you into the story with a capital letter, but he himself, like a good poem, penetrates “under the skin.” With cognac, as an intelligent person with himself, is never boring. Cognac is a genre.
Cognac in the form in which it exists now, did not appear immediately. This drink, like many others that have a long history, has its predecessors and its “brothers”. So, the first mention of the predecessor of brandy refers to the year 1411. The drink in question had a rather significant name indicating the degree of popularity of “eau de vie”, which in Russian means “water of life”. And the French made this life-giving drink. By the way, this drink and the drink, which is considered the elder brother of cognac (Armagnac) all over the world, was made on the territory of Gascony near the city that gave its name to the elder brother of brandy, Armagnac.
The fact is that grapes in the area have been grown since antiquity. It is clear that, having the opportunity to engage in winemaking, the inhabitants of Gascony did not want to abandon it. A lot of wonderful wines from ancient times were made in those places. Many traditions of winemaking for a long time were defined by Gascon winemakers.
Cognac and its history
Shakespeare wrote sonnets, but this does not mean that after him no one worked in this genre. So with cognac. It has been and will be done with varying success in Turkey, Moldova, Armenia, Ukraine and Bulgaria – although we all know that the best material and craftsmen are in Cognac. So, “cognac” refers to alcoholic beverages produced using the established technology in the Cognac region, which is located in the west of France near the Bay of Biscay and includes the departments of Charente, Maritime Charente and a small part of the De-Sevres and Dordogne departments.
The history of brandy is based on three components. This is, firstly, the soil. In no other place on the planet does the composition of cognac land repeat, under their feet – absolute value. This is, secondly, geographical location and climate: the same fatal luck, solid benefits. And, thirdly, these are the people who made a magnificent final product from the two sources. By the nature of the soil, the Cognac region is divided into six subregions or “cru” (the dictionary meaning is literally “land under vineyards, vineyards”). Here they are.
Where brandy is born
Grand Champagne The most prestigious subregion south of the city of Cognac, giving 15 percent of all cognac spirits. Gentle hills, a unique soil rich in chalk and minerals; whitish, stony. The alcohols from Grand Champagne are complex and refined. At a young age, they are aggressive and reckless, but over the years they acquire intellectual maturity, which combines versatility and richness – and at the same time clarity to the end of thoughtful thought.
Petite Champagne. 20 percent of the alcohols produced come from this sub-region, which is covered in Grand Champagne from the south by a semi-ring. Alcohols differ from Grand Champagne barely, their flavors are slightly less self-confident, slightly more fruity.
Borderies. A tiny piece of land northwest of Cognac. Gives five percent of all alcohols in the region. The soil is siliceous, a lot of alumina. Rich alcohols, but not too thin in the bouquet. They are feminine, have an excellent property to give the drink an internal connection, roundness, completeness.
Feng Bois. The largest sub-region, 42 percent. Soils are aluminous, with sand. Alcohols quickly grow up and become brittle, but in youth they strike with plasticity, stability, strength. It is these alcohols that are most often used in the basis of cognacs of the VS category. and V.S.O.P.
Bon Bois The share of all alcohols is 16 percent. The soil is wet, hard, with a predominance of limestone and alumina. Alcohols are strong, but the delicate flavor is out of the question. They have a special, “earthy”, “raw” taste because of the proximity of the ocean. It is most often used in the composition of the assembled, that is, compound cognacs, telling them “moisture”, “friability”, “spirituality”.
Bois Ordiner. The region on the coast around the cities of Rochefort and La Rochelle, as well as on the islands of Oleron and Re. 2 percent of all alcohols in the region, underutilized product. Wet soil and maritime climate do not impart refined shades to alcohols, but the flavor of iodine and salt is sometimes used as part of complex cognacs – for originality.
Making brandy is a rather complicated and long process. The primary (initial) “material” for which are young dry wines, mostly white. By double distillation, grape alcohol of about 60–70 degrees is obtained from them.
Initially, grape spirit does not have any distinctive color and aromatic characteristics that brandy is famous for. To acquire these necessary qualities, the alcohol is placed in special oak barrels and kept for several years.