Cognac: everything you need to know about the noble drink
His reputation has historically been so high that in many countries, any and aged in oak barrels, became known as brandy. In an effort to protect and support their producers, the French government issued a decree as far back as 1909, which unequivocally indicated that the name “Cognac” had the right only to growers of grapes within strictly defined limits, producing the drink according to traditional technology and maintaining it years in oak barrels.
Any, even produced in the same way, but from other regions, should be called brandy. Or rather, even grape brandy, because in a broader sense, brandy can be called any sustained drink derived from any fruit or even berries (for example, from apples, pears, plums, cherries). It must be understood very clearly: there is nothing wrong with the name “brandy”. This drink can be no worse than brandy, especially in terms of price-quality ratio. However, despite our crafty laws, it is incorrect to call any grape brandies (including Armenian, Georgian) brandy.
The cognac production region is located in the west of France north of the Aquitaine region on the Atlantic coast. The entire zone is divided into six districts, while speaking in the style of wine, appellations or cru.
The most prestigious area – Grand Champagne (Grande Champagne). Here the most noble and elegant spirits are born, capable of the longest exposure. Manufacturers are very proud of this: if the brandy is made exclusively from spirits of the Grande Champagne zone, this will almost always be written on the label. Almost as outstanding is the neighboring region of Petite Champagne (Petite Champagne). If the brandy is made from the spirits of these two zones, and no less than half of the assemblage is from Grand Champagne, the brandy will have the status of Fin Champagne (Fine Champagne, literally “fine champagne”). Geographically, these zones are irrelevant, but have the same limestone soil, which is famous for the zone “sparkling”.
Next is the smallest area – Borderies. These alcohols are often added to the blend for roundness and strong floral tones in flavor. Finally, there are three zones that contain the word “forest” – Fins Bois, Bons Bois, Bois Ordinaires – here the spirits are less refined and elegant. Usually they are used only for inexpensive young cognacs.