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coñac (ES)
conhaque (PO)

Probably the most famous brandy the world is after the eponymous city in the department Charente immediately north Bordeaux named in southwestern France near the Atlantic coast. When the Roman general Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) conquered Gaul, his legionaries allegedly brought along the Trebbiano vine from their homeland, the later main grape variety for the cognac. According to legend, the name of the Cognac region goes back to the Roman General Comnus. That came in the 12th century Spriten on, preserving a wine by adding alcohol. In addition, it was found out that the wine from the cognac area was particularly suitable for the burning. Around the year 1530 Dutch became the art of distillation introduced in this area, they called the wine distillates "Brandewijn", from which the English term Brandy derived. At that time it was customary to produce distillates by a single burning, as it is still today Armagnac the case is.

Cognac - Vineyards in the department of Charente with Ugni Blanc (Trebbiano Toscano)

The invention of cognac by firing twice is attributed to the Chevalier de la Croix Maron, Seigneur de Segonzac towards the end of the 16th century. There is a beautiful legend about it that is still told today. The devout knight is said to have dreamed that the devil wanted to steal his soul by burning him out in a cauldron. However, he survived the ordeal unscathed by his unwavering faith. And also a second attempt of the devil was unsuccessful, so that the knight had the idea to win the spirit of the brandy with a second distillation. The new drink prevailed quickly, the Dutchman Augustin Godet was the first to receive state permission to carry out the cognac. A certain Jean Martell settled in Cognac in 1715 and produced brandy, followed by Richard Hennessy and others whose names are still represented on the market today and are among the most prestigious brands.

Around the year 1870 came the phylloxera In this area and destroyed many vineyards in the Charente, the present vineyard area of 75,000 hectares is only one third of then. The basis for 90% of cognac production is mainly Saint-Émilion / Ugni Blanc ( Trebbiano Toscano ), such as Colombard and to a lesser extent, too Folle Blanche, In the year 2005 additionally the new breeding became Folignan permitted with a maximum of 10% of the vineyard per holding. Already in 1860, the French geologist Henri Coquand (1813-1881) and a professional brandy inspector were commissioned to classify the region in terms of quality. But it was only in 1909 that the boundaries and production regulations were fixed. Weinbrand was still referred to as Cognac outside of France, Hugo Asbach (1868-1935) had marketed his product from 1896 as a cognac brandy. In order to protect their brandy against the German competition, the French enforced in the Versailles Treaty, that from 1920 only brandy from the range Cognac may be so called. This is one of the few valid provisions of the Versailles Treaty. Incidentally, Cognac was officially recognized on 18 December 2009 in China as the first foreign geographical indication.

region of origin

The Cognac area is located in southwestern France about 100 kilometers north of Bordeaux. It covers the whole of the department of Charente-Maritime, a large part of the department of Charente, two enclaves in the Dordogne and Deux-Sèvres and smaller islands off the Atlantic coast. The "Région délimitée" has been divided into six zones grouped in concentric circles around the city of Cognac. From the area of Grande Champagne or Grande Fine Champagne are the best products that can bear this name (but has nothing to do with Champagne). About 15% of the production comes from here. The soil is characterized by a high chalk content, this decreases significantly in the no less well classified areas. The others in the order of quality are Petite Champagne (20%), Les Borderies (5%), Fins Bois (40%), Bons Bois (17%) and Bois Ordinaires (3%). Likewise, maximum yields (102 hl / ha), grape varieties, type of distillation and storage methods were defined by law. Cognac is only allowed to name a product if the grapes come from this area, where they were distilled and where maturation took place. Incidentally, in the cognac area, the production of marc fires forbidden.


The fermentation takes about ten to 21 days. After two to three weeks of storage, the first firing takes place. In this case, the fractional method is used, in contrast to Armagnac is fired twice in succession (Charentais Pot Still). The wine is unclear, that is, the yeast is burned. After the first distillation a distillate (Brouillis) is produced with 25 to 30% vol., after the second firing a product called Bonne Chauffée (good heat) with a maximum of 72% vol alcohol content. The still water clear Cognac is in Oak barrels from mainly Tronçais with 340 liters volume stored. During storage, the alcohol content gradually decreases and the cognac gets its typical, golden brown color.

After a few years, the distillate is transferred to larger barrels of 540 liters and matures. To improve quality, mostly cognacs of different ages are blended from different zones. But there are also products made from a vintage whose production is specially controlled (see under Vintage Cognac and Early Landed Cognac ). The final product with about 40% is produced immediately before bottling by dilution with weakness (distilled water with a little alcohol). With a few exceptions (as opposed to Armagnac) the cognac is a vintage indication prohibited.

Cognac - barrels and glasses

It may allow up to 2% cane sugar and caramelized Add sugar. The age is indicated by legally protected designations, which refers to the maturation period in the barrels (after bottling, a brandy no longer matures, this time does not count). Almost every renowned cognac producer has a special room, the so-called "Paradis". Evaporation loss is up to 5% per annum, this is the "Part of the Angels" (angel's share), which must be replaced by "Réserve des Anges" (RDA). The production and aging or strictly prescribed maturation period is determined by the industry association BNIC (Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac) closely monitored.

Age categories & designations

The age of the cognac determines the youngest distillate that is contained. Cognac may only be bottled and sold from at least two years barrel aging (Compte 02 = account 02). Each distillate is initially declared with "Compte 00" (account 00). The first reference date is April 1, a cognac with this name is at least one day to a maximum of three and a half months old (barrel aged). On 1 April of the following year, these distillates then have at least one year cask aging and receive the name "Compte 01". This continues until "Compte 06" (six years), then the control of the BNIC ends. Differently in the individual Cognac houses however the Cognacs ripen until 20 years and longer. Cognacs of the higher categories starting from account 7 are usually much older than the minimum requirements. A cognac called Paradis, Grande Reserve or Family Reserve can be up to 100 years old. Per Compte / Account are then a variety of partially confusing fancy names on the label to find. The exact age can not be derived from it:

  • Compte 2 : three stars (previously used up to 7 stars), Authentic, De Luxe, Elegance, Grand Choix (Large Selection), Monopolies, Selection, VS (Very Special or Very Superior)
  • Compte 3 : Crest (top), Cuvée Speciale, Fine, Grande Selection, Privilege, Qualité Speciale, Superieur, Très Bonne (very good)
  • Compte 4 : Premiere Croix, Rare (rare), Reserve, Vieux, VO (Very Old), VSOP (Very Special Old Pale or Very Superior Old Product), VVS (Very Very Special or Very Very Superior)
  • Compte 5 : Cuvée Reserve, Grande Fine, Grande Reserve, Reserve de la Maison, Reserve Particuliere, VVSOP (Very Very Special Old Pale or Very Very Superior Old Pale)
  • Compte 6 : Age Inconnu (Age unknown), Extra, Family Reserve, Grande Reserve, Hors d'Age (Extraordinary Age), Imperial, Napoleon (see the background of the name there), Paradis, Très Rare (very rare), Très Vieux, XO (Extra Old), Vieille Reserve, VXO (Very Extra Old)


A cognac (brandy) is usually made from the typical Cognacglas drunk with bulbous body. To the largest and most important Cognachäusern, in part also Armagnac and champagne produce, count among others González Byass (Sherry house) Camus. Courvoisier. Delamain. Desmaurin. Godet Frères. Hennessy, Thomas Hine. Marnier Lapostolle (Marnier) Martell and Rémy Martin ( Rémy Cointreau ). But not all grapes of the Cognac region become brandy. Part of the harvest will be in the department of Charente Vin de pays processed. The classified as AOC Pineau des Charentes is a so-called alcoholic Vin de liqueur, The "Esprit de Cognac" is a high-quality light cognac, which is used in the Dosage a champagne is used as part of the "Liqueur d'Expédition", as it can be sugar neutral in taste.

Additional information

Complete listings of the numerous vinification measures or cellar techniques, as well as the various wine-regulated wine, sparkling wine and distillate types are included under the keyword vinification . Comprehensive information on wine law is available under the keyword wine law,

Picture Charente: By TobiToaster - self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0 , Link

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