Cognac is essentially the king of the crop when it comes to brandy and is produced in the Charente and Charente Maritime areas of France taking its name from a local town. Cognac has to be made under the most extreme and precise regulations. Deviating from this just slightly would turn Cognac into just a normal brandy.
There are seven areas in France that have been designated as Cognac producing with the majority being produced in Borderies, Petite Champagne and Grande Champagne but there is also Bons Bois, Bois Ordinaries, Fins Bois and Bois Communs and they will squeeze out at least a drop or three. Each area has their own unique creation but all of the highest quality which is not surprising since they all have a knack from Cognac.
The grapes used in the production of Cognac are highly exclusive with only certain ones being picked. Cognac to start needs to be 90% Folle Blanche, Ugni Blanc or Colombard grapes.
Ugni have the most weight, with some Cognac made exclusively with this grape only. Colombard and Folle Blanche grapes are represented minimally. The other 10%, by law, may include other different varieties of grape. These other varieties are typically eccentric and specific.
Cognac is dissimilar to many other brandies because it must be distilled twice in pot stills made of copper. After its second distillation, the eau-de-vie or heart of the cognac, is placed in oak barrels from trees located in the Limousin and Troncais forests.
It is here the heart of the cognac gets aged for no less than two years, while much is aged longer. But Cognac is not allowed to get too aged. It usually is not barreled up for longer than five or six decades, it does have things it needs to do, after all.
Cognac age can be a confusing issue. There is a system that exists in order to help understand what is the youngest heart of cognac in the bunch. A VS, very superior or three star label represents the youngest, meaning all the heart is a minimum of two and half years of age.