Cognac, named after the town of Cognac, France, is a variety of brandy. It is produced in the wine-growing region surrounding the town from which it takes its name, in the French Departements of Charente and Charente-Maritime.
For a brandy to bear the name Cognac, an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, its production methods must meet certain legal requirements. In particular, it must be made from specified grapes of which Ugni Blanc, known locally as Saint-Emilion, is the one most widely used. The brandy must be twice distilled in copper pot stills
(Charentais still- see image below)
and aged at least two years in French oak barrels from Limousin or Tronçais. Cognac matures in the same way as whiskies and wine when aged in barrels, and most cognacs are aged considerably longer than the minimum legal requirement. (#WIKIPEDIA)
In spite of having spent time in the Charente-Maritime, located in the Petite Champagne region for Cognac, I must admit cognac was difficult for me to appreciate. I prefer the friendlier Pineau des Charentes which is delightful, both the “blanc” and the “rosé / rouge”. I was excited NOT to be teaching this class, but to be the student. I learned quite a bit from Alexandre from Maison Maxime Trijol. By the end of the class I was totally enamored with this kingly brandy! Maxime Trijol is an independent family owned cognac house which dates back to 1859. By some standards they are quite large- owning/using 22 Charentais stills each holding 660 gallons! That is a considerable amount of liquid gold!! Here is a cognac aroma wheel- beautiful notes evolve in each glass… a sensory explosion!
Some pictures from our evening at Bin 36
Probably the most important bit of information given was to “forget everything you know about wine tasting”…it is different with cognac. Words of wisdom that held true. Once I “chewed” the cognac in my mouth a couple of times- preparing my mouth, taste buds, etc…I was able to sip and ENJOY the rich, silky smoothness of the cognac. I am so thrilled! Next time I am “home” in the Charente-Maritime I will surprise my families…I will partake in a small glass of cognac with pleasure! I could go into the technical, traditional, two -stage method (1936 Decree) for production, but will give you a site to read the details for yourself. Take the time to learn about cognac…learn to savor and enjoy. Cheers!