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Cognac

Cognac is one of the most revered spirits in the world. The brandy takes its name from the town of Cognac in Western France. It is interesting to learn that Cognac was one of the later regions in France to begin distilling. Probably later than in Armagnac. It was during the 17th century that Cognac production got underway in earnest.

Famous Cognac houses include Hennessy,Hine, Martell and Rémy Martin – have become household names.

Cognac is usually distilled from one grape variety, ugni blanc, though others are planted. The first step is to press and ferment the grapes to make wine. It is worth mentioning that good Cognac grapes and good wine grapes are two separate entities, for different qualities are required. Cognac grapes do not tend to make for good wine, because they are rather bitter and acidic, thus a good year for wine may not be such for Cognac.

The wine is twice distilled - as opposed to Armagnac which undergoes a single distillation – before the spirit is matured for at least two years (two and a half years for VS Cognac, four and a half years for VSOP Cognac, six years for XO Cognac, and even longer for Prestige Cognac) in oak barrels.

There are regional distinctions within Cognac and most houses usually blend grapes from multiple sub-regions within the Cognac area. The regions are ringed around the town, and the central regions are the most venerated. The premier cru is Grand Champagne, so named for the nature of its soils. Cognac is a protected designation of origin (PDO), which means that it can only be made in the Cognac region of France.

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