The warmth that embraces your body with every drop of the finest spirit from France is a feeling you will never forget. Cognac, a name derived from the west coast town in France is where the magic of preparing this palatable drink happens. Brandies that originated from the valley of Charente River, especially from the areas in and around Cognac, were critically acclaimed. They behold a blend of flavors and aromas that promise to leave you mesmerized in its uniqueness.
What is Cognac?
Cognac, characterized by the subtle tones of amber is more than just a drink. It is an aged brandy-distilled wine that originates from the native Cognac region located in France. Its complex bouquet of perfume and taste palate makes it a special variety to cherish all over the world. A bottle of De Luze Cognac VS Fine Champagne could introduce you to such astounding taste.
The region has the soil and climate to encourage grapes for white wine production. It is brimming with ripe grapes that contribute to the lovely Cognac that is yet to go through distillation. White wine is acidic and has lower strength and the preparation starts from grapes that serve as a rich base for the preparation of Cognac. Ugni Blanc is the grape variety that contributes to about 98% of the Cognac prepared in the region due to its distinguishable palate and depth of taste. Also, the acidity keeps the wine fresh until the distillation. This wine then goes through distillation twice in copper alembic stills and rests in French Oak barrels soaking in some barky flavors. It is mandatory to use French oak from Limousin or Troncais forests and age for at least two years before it qualifies as Cognac.
Ever wondered what gives DELAMAIN COGNAC FAMILY RESERVE CASK an enchanting depth of smooth flavors? It is the aging process that gets the elegant flavors to soak in, that caress your throat as you drink. The aging starts from the day the distillation completes which has to be before 1st April immediately after the harvest. At this stage, the Cognac is compte 00. The next stage is aging for one year from April 1st to be a compte 0, then another year for compte 1 and finally another year more for compte 2 when it can be legally titled Cognac. Cognacs are available till compte 10 which includes those which have aged longer than 10 years. The aging process also happens in bonbonnes after a certain period of resting in the oak where it can last for centuries.
Decoding the Labels
The French labels don’t make understanding this drink any easier. The grading of the spirit is based on aging which you can decode from the label.
1. VS – Very special – Cognac that has aged 2 years and just qualifies. This will blend wonderfully in a flavorsome cocktail to give you an awesome rush of taste. The reason behind this is a straight up might give you harsh flavors that might not please your taste buds.
2. VSOP – Very special old pale – Cognac aged to qualify compte 4- This again like VS is more of cocktail material. They combine well with sodas and tonic whereas may not be a great drink to relish straight up. Spicy tones and zesty flavors like ginger ale can be the right way to go about when you decide to make a Cognac cocktail. Frapin VSOP is a perfect cocktail pal you should try once.
3. Napoleon – Cognac with at least compte 6- This is a relatively new category that separated from XO recently. Brandy that has aged at least 6 years does have a distinctive taste and a soothing warm feeling while you enjoy a glass. A fine bottle of Napoleon to taste would be by Delord Bas Armagnac.
4. XO – eXtra Old which is compte 10 – Aged fine with brimming flavors that are nutty, fruity, aromatic and buttery smooth, there is no better way to enjoy it than drink up straight. This is a purely blissful experience that will exceed the price you paid for the precious bottle. Enjoy a glass of Belle Meade XO Cognac Cask finish Bourbon neat or on the rocks.
Creating a bottle of Cognac is the skillful task of the cellar master. The ‘maitre de chais’ introduces eminent flavors together to create an extravagant drink that you will enjoy each sip of. Single barrel Cognac is also commercially available although blends are the preferred type. Every bottle unique or not is a craft by the cellar master using eaux-de-vie that creates a full-bodied drink.
How to take your first sip
If the history and the making inspired you to try Cognac then follow these steps to have the complete experience.
1. While using any glassware could be enough a snifter is a perfect choice. This will trap the aroma in its narrow top that you will get to cherish during your sip.
2. You first Cognac needs to be a finely aged compte 6 or more to actually have a good experience. Take about 25 ml in the snifter and let it warm slowly for about 10 minutes.
3. The gorgeous rush of gold, amber and red tone in the drink suggest that it has aged well. Now swirl and take in the aroma of the brandy. Tones that are fruity, nutty, herby or even floral can be evidently observed.
4. Take your first sip and the smooth taste of the drink along with the warmth that joins the palate will be amazing. New Cognacs may have slightly harsh flavors and hence may not give you the best experience. Prefer enjoying it as a cocktail in that case.
A personal favorite way to enjoy a lovely glass of cognac is with some chocolates. It brings the prominent flavors in the drink out in a bold way that you will enjoy. You can also try some Cognac cocktails such as Hennessey Honey or Bastille Day with a Pierre Ferrand 1840 that will be a drink you will never forget.