Long time ago, in the seventeenth century, wine was very popular but for shipping reasons, some merchants decided to distill the wine to get a perfect quality of spirit and send it abroad. And Cognac was born, taking its name from the town of Cognac in France. The grapes (mostly Ugni blanc) are harvested in winter, pressed, and go through 2 distillations in an alembic stills (there is 5000 alembics on the Cognac appellation!). It is then aged a minimum of 2 years in oak barrels, blended and bottled.
There is different grades which qualifies the quality of Cognac:
VS – Means Very special – the youngest brandy stored 2 years in cask
VSOP – Very Superior Old Pale – blend stored 4 years in cask
XO – Extra Old or Napoleon – blend stored at least 6 years.
Hors d’Age – Beyond Age – High quality product which is aged beyond the official age scale.
Among this classification, we also classify cognac by Crus which are geographical denomination of where the grapes come from. We have Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins bois, Bons Bois and Bois à terroirs.
There are many négoce of Cognac that are worldwide known such as Martell, Remy Martin, Hennessy, Courvoisier… and total of 275 different producers.
Cooper - Cognac
We had the chance to visit Seguin Moreau, the greatest cooper of the region! We discovered the whole making process of the barrel making from the “mise en rose” to the sanding part. The wooden parts that make up a barrel, which are called staves, are fixed together with hoops and heated to be more flexible and shape the barrel!
To get a little more numbers: Since 1838, Seguin Moreau produces 80 000 barrels per year. The staves are aged a minimum of 2 years before being used for production. They have been certified in 2005 with PEFC, a certification which insure the forest patrimoine with a politic of durable gestion of the forest.
Maison de Négoce - Jarnac
The Courvoisier Cognac négoce house was founded in the beginning of the 19th century by a Courvoisier. As he was about to die, he brought his nephews in the family business and is still nowadays runed by a Courvoisier. The Courvoisier Cognac has been known thanks to its presence on the Universal exhibition at the opening of the Eiffel Tower in 1899, as it was the only cognac served during the opening party! 1,5 million cases are shipped every year in OWC12. Their first market is the USA with 50% of the sales, then UK and retail in Europe and China.
La Gabare – Cognacs Grosperrin
Negociants Vintage Cognacs
La Gabare was founded by Jean Grosperrin in 1992. Jean Grosperrin was first a broker, a perfect intermediate between winegrowers and negociants.
Today, La Gabare is still the family-owned company that it used to be, and produces aged, rare cognacs under the name Cognac de Collection Jean Grosperrin as well as “Le Roch”. They are one of the last negociants that buys stocks of unaged cognac “eau-de-vie” to make them aged themselves.
We could try many of their different Cognac, even had the chance to try a Cognac Petite Chgampagne of 1965… A real blast, of the best quality Cognac.
Since 1930, Bourgoin is proposing a Cognac that will make everyone fall in love with it. Without filtration, added sugar, coloration, it is an all natural product bottled per vintage, per parcel, per barrel and 100% by hand at the domaine. Their best seller is the Micro Barrique 1994, 43% volume alcohol, with vanilla, strawberry, pineapple and mango taste.