Discover an expertise
Cognac’s vineyard extends over three French départements: Charente, Charente-Maritime, Deux-Sèvres and some municipalities in Dordogne, covering around 75,000 hectares.
It has 6 fine PDO wines that have earned this status because of the specific nature of the soil and the quality of brandies they produce: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois and Bois Ordinaires. It is the latter two wines that are mainly found in Charente-Maritime where the sandy soils give the brandies the land’s distinctive flavour.
Cognac is normally made from a white grape called Ugni blanc (it can also be made from grape varieties such as Folle Blanche and Colombard but this is less common). When the grape is very mature, it is harvested, as part of the grape harvests which take place every year in October, before being pressed. The resulting juice is then fermented for around 3 weeks.
Then it is distilled, turning the white wine into brandy. These methods have been used since Cognac was first made and the old alembic they used to use is the same one they still use today. Two distillations must be carried out. The first distillation produces the “brouillis” which is made of alcohol vapours. This “brouillis” is then put in the pot still for a second distillation which the French call the “bonne chauffe”.
Next, you will have to be patient during the ageing process. Preserved in oak casks, the Cognac will keep developing its flavour until it reaches maturity... which sometimes takes decades. Thanks to the porosity of the wood, the brandy will always be in indirect contact with the air around it, causing its alcoholic strength and volume to gradually (but not excessively) reduce. This evaporation is poetically referred to as the “Angels’ Share”. This process also changes the appearance of the Cognac, as the substances that have infused from the casks’ wood give it its lovely signature amber colour.
Visit the Cognac wineries
In the Cellar Master’s footsteps
Make the most of your stay by visiting the many wine-growing enterprises. Meet the people who make the Cognac and go in the distilleries to understand the different production stages of this internationally renowned brandy. Learning about the production process whilst sampling the products will pique your curiosity and your taste buds.
Welcome to Paradise
The Cognac Houses' treasure
Edward, who is the cellar master for Normandin-Mercier Cognacs, welcomes you to his paradise. It is here that he keeps the oldest brandies. In a dark cellar, away from the other cellars, the brown-coloured gold is kept in glass containers called “carboys”.
*Alcohol abuse is bad for your health, consume in moderation