Cognac is a type of brandy, and after the distillation and during the aging process, is also called eau de vie. It is produced by twice distilling white wines produced in any of the designated growing regions.
MADE FROM GRAPES:The white wine used in making cognac is very dry, acidic, and thin. Though it has been characterized as "virtually undrinkable", it is excellent for distillation and aging. It may be made only from a strict list of grape varieties. For it to be considered a true cru, the wine must be at least 90% Ugni blanc (known in Italy as Trebbiano), Folle blanche and Colombard, while up to 10% of the grapes used can be Folignan, Jurançon blanc, Meslier St-François (also called Blanc Ramé), Sélect, Montils, or Sémillon. Cognacs which are not to carry the name of a cru are freer in the allowed grape varieties, needing at least 90% Colombard, Folle blanche, Jurançon blanc, Meslier Saint-François, Montils, Sémillon, or Ugni blanc, and up to 10% Folignan or Sélect.
PRODUCING REGIONS:Cognac is classified by crus, tightly defined geographic denominations where the grapes are grown. Their distinctive soils and microclimates produce eaux de vie with characteristics particular to their specific location.
- Grande Champagne : The soils in Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne are characterized as shallow clay-limestone, over limestone and chalk.
- Petite Champagne : Petite Champagne eaux de vie have similar characteristics to those from Grande Champagne. Cognacs made from a mixture of Grande and Petite Champagne eaux de vie (with at least 50% Grande Champagne) may be marketed as "Fine Champagne".
- Borderies : The smallest cru. This denomination's soil contains clay and flint stones resulting from the decomposition of limestone.
- Fins Bois : Heavier and faster aging eaux de vie ideal for establishing the base of some blended cognacs. The soils here are predominantly red clay-limestone and very stony, or otherwise heavy clay soils.
- Bons Bois and Bois Ordinaires : Further out from the four central growth areas are these two growing regions. With a poorer soil and very much influenced by the maritime climate, this area is 20,000 hectares.
- Bois à terroirs : The soils of Les Bois (Bons Bois, Bois Ordinaires, and Bois à terroirs) are sandy, spanning coastal areas and some valleys
COGNAC BASED DRINKS:
- Pineau des Charentes: a sweet apéritif, composed of eau-de-vie and grape must, made in the Charente region
- Grand Marnier: a liqueur made from cognac and distilled essence of bitter orange
- Domaine De Canton: a cognac based ginger liqueur
- Chambord: a liqueur made from cognac infused with black and red raspberries and Madagascar vanilla