Of all brandies cognac is arguably the most elegant and refined.
Located in southwestern France, Charente Maritime is a region where cognac was first created by a Dutch captain transporting wine from there to the Netherlands. After a few years, he decided to have the wine distilled to reduce volume. He originally intended to add water and sell the liquid. When the ship arrived in Amsterdam and people tasted the distillate, and liked it enough to buy it as it was. Thus brandy was born, a word derived from Dutch “burned wine”.
There are hundreds of cognac companies. Some grow grapes, make the wine and distil, others buy grapes from contract growers, and process, yet others use a combination of practices described, and yet others buy distillates, age and blend them for bottling.
By law, cognac fro export must be aged for a minimum of three years. Some distillers use oak barrels made mostly of Troncais, Jupille, and Orleans oak. Very few are made of Limousin oak as the wood contains too much vanilla flavour. In all cases the oak must be fine grained.
Of the internationally important distillers, Courvoisier is one of the biggest and highly innovative, exporting primarily to the U.S.A, all European countries, Canada, Japan, and Hong Kong, i.e China.
Courvoisier started as a wine merchant in Paris specializing in cognac in 1800. By 1811 Napoleon Bonaparte visited the cellars, and Courvoisier was appointed as an official supplier to the French court.
By 1835 the owners decided to move the business to Jarnac where the headquarters still function, set policy, chart out distribution strategies, and marketing. Jim Beam U.S.A owns it.
In the last decade, worldwide cognac sales have been flat-lined, and now large distillers have come up with a range of products designed to please the palate of young, sophisticated and we4ll-heeled consumers.
Now new markets are being opened i.e Russia, China, and the U.S.A, mostly promoted by rappers, who seem to have great influence on their followers, and young people.
has now introduced a new tier of cognac under the name of Connaissuer Collection, consisting of 12 year old, XO, and 21-year-old distillates. Usually cognac is marketed as a brand V O, V S O P, Napoleon and other fantasy designations.
In V O blends the youngest cognac is three years old, V S O P five, and Napoleon and others seven.
Recently, I had the opportunity to taste
Courvoisier 12 year old – spicy, nutty with citrus aromas and flavours. A very smooth cognac with a light and elegant mouth feel. Long aftertaste.
Courvoisier V S O P Exclusif – smells of gingerbread, toffee and coffee. Smooth with an oily texture. Refined and elegant. Long satisfying finish.
Courvoisier X O blended using distillates derived from Grande- and Petite Champagne sub-regions both of which are rated as the best of all. Aromatic, spicy, smooth, viscous texture.
Refined, elegant, and light. Deeply flavoured. The blend consists of old 25 – 30 year of cognacs.
Here is a punch recipe you may want to try:
Summer of Punch
225 ml Courvoisier Exclusif
470 ml Apple juice
250 ml Ginger beer or ginger ale
55 ml Lime juice
¼ stick of cucumber, sliced
Place cucumber slices and lime juice in a punch bowl.
Stir in remaining ingredients, leaving ginger beer to last.