Cognac is a strong alcoholic beverage (kind of brandy), which is made from certain grape varieties according to special technology. It is obtained as a result of double distillation of white wine followed by aging in oak barrels. Wine is distilled twice. The first time the degree of fluid rises to 27-32% of alcohol, and during the second distillation to 68-72% of alcohol. It is believed that regular use of cognac (about 15 ml per day) protects against heart diseases. Cognac helps to expand blood vessels and relieves headaches. But what are the fascinating facts about Cognac you did not know?
10. The movie is kept in the cognac cellars
Robert Rodriguez shot the film “100 years: a movie that you’ll never see” with John Malkovich in the title role, which will be premiered on November 18, 2115. The sponsor of the project was the manufacturer of a luxury alcoholic company Rémy Martin, the manufacturer of cognac “Louis XIII Cognac”, in the cellars of which the safe with the film has been keeping under a lock for a hundred years to make sure that the world will not see the movie until 2115. This company asked Malkovich to create a concept, but even the sponsors do not know all the details.
9. Grape varieties used for making cognacs
There are a lot of grape varieties, however, only seven of them are allowed to produce cognacs. Nevertheless, only three are used: Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, and Colombard – they account for up to 90% of the acreage. The remaining 10% fall on Blalc Ramé (Meslier Saint-François), Jurançon, Montils, Sémillion, Sélect. All these varieties of white grapes are highly acidic and low-grade.
The best places for cultivating grape varieties for the cognac are the allotments located on calcareous, stony, clayey-calcareous soils. Grapes growing on moistened soils have a better condition. Drought prevents the accumulation of necessary aromatic substances in the grapes. Climatic conditions should allow the grapes to mature fully during the growing season. Sorts are selected according to the climatic zone. A sufficient number of sunny days and high temperatures should be within the maturation period.
8. A legend about the first cognac
The first person to apply the double distillation method is le Chevalier De La Croix-Maron. It is impossible to say exactly how the cognac itself appeared. But there is a legend according to which, le Chevalier De La Croix-Maron, having left military service, engaged in the distillation of wine. At night, he had a dream: to take his soul, the devil threw him into boiling water, but nothing happened, then he abandoned it one more time. In the morning, le Chevalier decided to apply the process of double boiling in the technology of making cognac.
The second boiling was to improve the quality of the wine of the first boiling. Then le Chevalier took two barrels with the received drink and went to the monks of Renorville. The beverage of the first one was immediately drunk, and the second barrel was hidden in the basement for the celebration of some event. This event occurred only fifteen years later when the monks visited the Chevalier. Surprisingly, the barrel was not full with the beverage, because of the evaporation. The drink got a new taste, saturated and sustained. It was the birth of the first cognac.
7. How to know the cognac age?
Cognacs are classified by their age. The age of cognacs is indicated on the bottle label with the special notation. All the dates specified in the classification mean that each of the incoming elements in the cognac has a period of holding not less than mentioned there. The aging period is considered from 1 a.m. on April, 1, following the official termination of the distillation of the wine of this crop. The account of the age of cognac begins with “00” and ends with “6”.
The first three “scores” are not counted in the age category table because they are intermediate in the technological process.
According to the legislation, the minimum age of cognac, which has the right to go on sale, is 2 years old in an oak barrel, or an “account 2”:
Account 00: is a distillation account (on March 31);
Account 0: starts on April 1, after the end of distillation;
Account 1: the first year of cognac aging in an oak barrel;
Score 2: V.S. (Very Special), Selection, de Luxe, Trois Etoiles – not less than 2 years;
Account 3: Superior – at least 3 years;
Account 4: V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale), V.O. (Very Old), Vieux, Reserve – not less than 4 years;
Account 5: V.V.S.O.P. (Very Very Superior Old Pale), Grande Reserve – not less than 5 years;
Account 6: X.O. (Extra Old), Extra, Napoleon, Royal, Tres Vieux, Vieille Reserve – not less than 6 years.
After 6.5 years of aging cognacs are no longer classified.
The maximum age of cognac is not limited by legislation. But the age of cognac in a barrel which lasts for more than 70 years, does not affect its character.
6. Traditional glasses for cognac serving
Traditional glasses for cognac are “sniffer” (a spherical glass 180-240 ml, narrowed upwards, with a large bowl and a short stem), and a “tulip” (bowl in the form of a closed or open bud of a tulip on a high stem), about 140 ml. A glass should be held with a stem like a wine glass, the cognac should be rotated along the walls to get oxygen actively to enjoy its aroma through the narrow glass bowl.
Barrels for cognac are made without a single nail. The most valuable are the oldest containers, they are carefully guarded, even spiders are specially bred, which span the barrels of cobwebs and protect them from pests.
5. What food cognac should be served with
The finest snack for cognac is the three “C” of the French – cigar, coffee, and chocolate. Nowadays, specialists and amateurs of cognac drinking have developed a certain list of snacks, ideally combined with cognac. The best cognac is good with sweet snacks – coffee mousse, a creamy or nut souffle, chocolate, etc. You can also serve hard and soft cheeses (except for cheeses with a strong smell). Such appetizer for cognac will perfectly shade the aroma of the drink, which will allow you to smell the cognac aroma for as long as possible. A good combination with cognac are oysters, scallops, baked veal, caviar, and pate from the liver. Dishes with the strong taste, especially meat, soften alcohol, making the cognac even more velvety, emphasizing its notes of fruit and spices, while the acidity of cognac will also make the taste of the dish more interesting. The garnish of fried vegetables, as well as mushrooms, will help to enjoy the combination with cognac.
Coffee takes the first place among beverages that emphasizes the dignity of the cognac. Juicy and sweet fruits (especially peaches) will greatly show the aftertaste.
Lemon is not included in the list of snacks which match cognac on etiquette. This product, due to a fairly intense taste, completely breaks the aroma of the drink and prevents the feeling of delicate taste for a long time.
4. The process of cognac drinking
Hold the glass in your palms, warming the cognac in them. After rotated cognac on the glass walls, enjoy it, plunging your nose into the glass. Its main criterion is a bouquet that opens at the slightest increase in temperature. The optimum temperature of cognac supply is room (cognac should not be cooled or heated). Moreover, it should not be kept in the fridge. After pouring the beverage into the glasses, the bottle should be left open, so that the aroma would evaporate more intensively. Drinking cognac, do not be in a hurry. This is not just a drink, but a classic aperitif or digestive.
3. What a cognac label should contain
According to legislative acts, on the front and/or counter labels the bottles with cognac must necessarily contain the following information:
-The name (Cognac, Eau-de-vie de Cognac, Eau-de-vie des Charentes);
-Capacity of the bottle;
-Original barrel proof (in % vol.);
-Legal name, address of the manufacturer or enterprise for bottling, registered within the European Community;
-The mandatory indication of appellation membership (Fine ChampagneAppellation Contrôlée, Grande Champagne Appellation Contrôlée, Petite Champagne Appellation Contrôlée, etc.)
2. Famous French cognac houses
The center of cognac production is the city of Cognac (the main city of the department of Charente, the Poitou-Charentes region, France). In this French city, every representative of the cognac house considers himself to be the best. Its residents are proud of their pedigree, the fame of their ancestors, their lands, castles, as well as their best collections of cognacs. This city gave the name of the drink, which was fixed by the decision of the Paris Convention in 1864.
The largest firms producing French cognacs with the experience of 150-250 years are “Martell”, “Hennessy”, “Courvoisier” and “Rémy Martin”. They are also called “big cognac Four”. Some brands of cognacs, such as Martell Cordon Bleu, Courvoisier Napoleon Fine Champagne, and Rémy Martin Fine Champagne have been producing for over 100 years, and their quality is always good. Up to 80% of French cognacs are exported to more than 140 countries in the world. The French cognac houses are the direct descendants of the great names. They produce almost three-quarters of all cognac available today. These names have become synonymous with popular high-priced alcoholic beverages for many people.
There are almost four hundred other cognac houses in France. True admirers of cognac believe that the products of small cognac houses are “non-commercial” or “gourmet”, as their quality is perfect. The following houses are worth mentioning: Frapin, Delamain, S.A.A.Tesseren, Chateau de Montifaud, etc.
1. The most expensive cognac in the world
The most expensive cognac in the world is named after the French King Henry IV. Henri IV is considered to be the most expensive cognac on the planet. Its composition was invented in 1776. Cognac Henri IV is made by direct descendants of King Henry IV. Henri IV cognac extract is over 100 years old. Henri IV is poured into a bottle made of 24-carat gold, blended with 6500 diamonds. The bottle of this drink will cost you 1 million 875 thousand US dollars.
Another Kings’ drink is Cognac Remy Martin Cognac Black Pearl Louis XIII. The price is $ 51,560.
If you try cognac Remy Martin Cognac Black Pearl Louis XIII, you will feel about 1200 tastes from 40 to 100 summer cognacs mixed together. This cognac has a fragrance of flowers, fruits, and spices. The most prominent are the ginger, cinnamon, and Cuban cigars aroma. Among his admirers are Christian Dior and Elton John. Queen Elizabeth II was served Cognac “Louis XIII” at the Palace of Versailles on the occasion of her visit to France in 1957.