Classification of cognacs
The decree of May 1, 1909 determines the territory; on which produced cognac alcohol can be called as cognac. January 13, 1938, all territory was divided into six districts or industrial territories. They are situated on the southwest of France along the Atlantic Ocean coast. These districts differ by a unique climate and diversity of soils. The grapes grown on this territory, give the unique taste to each cognac.
(1) Grande Champagne. The common square - 35700 he, Cretaceous soil is distinguished by rich lime carbonate. Vineyards are 13000 he. The cognacs made of the grapes grown on this territory, have subtle floral taste and require long maturing.
(2) Petite Champagne. The common square - 68400 he, soil has less dense cretaceous layer, which is strongly influenced by the ocean in the western part of the district. Vineyards are 16000 he. Cognacs, produced here, are similar to cognacs of Grande Champagne, but with less subtle taste.
(3) Borderies. The most small of six districts - 13440 he. Situating on the north from city Cognac, it has its own microclimate. 4000 he of the vineyards give weak taste of flower odors (violet, for example) to cognacs. The cognacs Borderies reach optimal quality after shorter period of maturing, than cognacs Grande Champagne.
(4) Fins Bois. The territory of this district environs the first three areas, occupying more than 354200 he of rigid stony soil. Less than 33000 he of the vineyards make strong cognacs, which mature faster and have a bouquet that resembles an odor of freshly squeezed grapes.
(5) Bons Bois. 386000 he of clay soil with small content of limy rock around Fins Bois. This district is more subjected to coastal climate and it is reflected on some vineyards in the eastern part. The vineyards are 12000 he. The cognacs mature very fast and have rough taste.
(6) Bois Ordinaires. Common Square - 274176 he. The vineyards are 1700 he. The soil is completely sandy, gives the odors of the sea, seaweeds and Iodine to cognacs
The decree of January 13, 1938 permit to label cognac using the name of the district where it was produced, that's called Appelation d'Origine Controlie.
There is a great variety of grape sorts, however, in production of cognacs are permitted only seven of them, though basically used only three: Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche and Colombard - 90 % of vineyards. Other 10 %: Blalc Ramé (Meslier Saint-François), Jurançon, Montils, Sémillion, Sélect. All these sorts of white grapes differ by high acidity and low degree.
During maturing in oak casks, cognac acquires dark color, and, the older the cask the darker and older the cognac.
The cognac cannot be sold until sustained 2 years from the beginning of the period of distillation (since April 1 of the year, following after the year of harvest).
There are labels, which used on cognac labels for definition of the cognac age:
- V. S. (Very Special) – age not less than 2,5 years
- V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale) – not less than 4,5 years
- Napoleon – X.O. (Extra Old) - more than 6,5 years
But actually cognac age of prestigious cognac houses is much more.
The inspected naming on parentage:
Grande Champagne: cognac was made from the grapes grown only in Grande Champagne.
Petite Champagne: 100% Petite Champagne.
Fine Champagne: the cognac Fine Champagne is produced from the grapes Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne (not less than 50 % Grande Champagne).
Borderies: 100% Borderies.
Fins Bois: 100% Fins Bois.
Bons Bois: 100% Bons Bois.
Bois Ordinaires: 100% Bois Ordinaires.