Travel Guide to Cognac Region

Cognac is a premium wine grape brandy produced in the region of Cognac in the south-west of France, near Bordeaux.

The beautiful appellation(Cognac AOP), which spans over 80 hectares along the Clarence River, has a soft tempered sea climate, rich clay soil, and sufficient sunlight make the place favour the cultivation of vines.

Cognac region is divided into six distinct viticultural areas. Each region produces different varieties of Eaux-de-vie. Blending different qualities give each Cognac a unique, individual character.

Start planning your trip! discover wine tastings & tours in cognac!

History

Who Introduced Cognac to Cognac?

Surprisingly, it was Dutch who introduced Cognac. The Dutch settlers came to the Southwest region of France to buy wood, salt, and wine. It was the quality of the wine mixed with weak alcohol that made it difficult for it to survive long sea expedition. The issue was resolved with settling up of distilleries by the Dutch.

The Transformation Into Eau-de-vie

The process of double distillation began in the 17th century. It transformed the wines into eau-de-vie. The process is useful as it allows safe transportation and is economical too.

It was the People of Cognac who found that ageing in the oak barrels improved eau-de-vie. The drink was immediately ready for consumption. It gave birth to Cognac.

What is Eau-de-vie?

/əʊ də ˈviː/
the Word is used as an equivalent of clear, colourless fruit brandy. However, it Literally means “water of life”.

Now Cognac-makers open their cellar doors to tell you their story and know-how handed down from generation to generation.

The best way to to learn more about Cognac production is to visit wineries in Cognac, where you will be able to listen to personal stories and taste the best spirit in the world!

Better Organized Led to Exports

The 18th century saw better organization in the Cognac business. More number of cognac trading houses were set up. The main aim of these was to export Cognac to other main markets, including England, Holland, Northern Europe. Later, to America and the Far East.

Production of Cognac Region

The Charentes or the Cognac is a major wine-growing region. However, the main product is not a normal wine. Even though Cognac got huge territory and produces more wine than Burgundy, most of the wines are distilled into the brandy.

The remaining production is a delicious aperitif wine, and it is called as Pineau des Charentes that you can taste in the winery Jules Gautret. The small quantity of barrels produced is labelled as Vin de Pays whereas some vineyards are also known for producing red or rose wine.

Steps of Cognac Production:

1. Pressing the grapes and fermentation for about 2-3 weeks;
2. The FIrst distillation – Carried out in Charentais copper stills;
3. The second distillation – this is when we get Eau-de-vie;
4. Casking and ageing for a minimum of 2 years;
5. Blending and bottling.

Focus On The Appellation

Depending on the variation in soil and climate, Cognac is divided into 6 sub-regions. Four of them are situated towards the centre include:

  • Grand Champagne
  • Petite Champagne
  • Fin Bois
  • Borderies

while the two remaining surround them:

  • Bon Bois
  • Bois Ordinaires

1 region, 6 appellations, and three grape varieties

Grande Champagne

The beautiful hilly region of Grande Champagne is well known for its Cognac. Mainly centred on the town of Segonac, it spreads towards the east and north.

Grande Champagne is regarded as ‘premier cru’ growth area. The soil of the place is responsible for producing Cognac of finest quality – light, floral, and with a long ageing period for maturity.

Three main grape varieties used in the production of Cognac:

Trebbiano Toscano(Known as Ugni Blanc in france)
Folle Blanche
Colombard

Petite Champagne

Towards the south end of Grand Champagne and spreading west of Segonac is Petite Champagne. It is located in the departments of Clarente-Maritime and Clarente is Petite Champagne.

The grapes of this cru produce Eaux-de-vie, which is light with a floral bouquet. They too take a long maturation time.

After Grand Champagne, Petite Champagne is considered to be the second most important region (cru). Their cognacs are of slightly lower quality than of the Grande Champagne.

Borderies

Situated above the two champagne crus and towards the north of the town of Cognac, Borderies is the smallest of all the terroirs.

The region boasts of having the oldest soil in the region presumed to be of the Jurassic area. Palaeontologists have a huge interest in the region with 2000 fossilized remains found here of crocodiles, dinosaurs, and pterosaurs. It is believed that Borderies matures more gracefully than the other two.

The terroir is famous for producing rounded Eaux-de-vie aroma of toffee, nutty and violet flavours.

Fins Bois

Fins Bois means ‘fine woods’ as most of the area was wooded when the vines were planted.

The grapes of this region produce Eaux-de-vie of the highest quality; these are supple, round, and have an aroma of a freshly squeezed fruit.

The other two appellations include Bon Bois and Bois Ordinaires. Cognac produced here is of lesser quality and not bought by any big houses.

Some estates cover vineyards in several regions, as Bourgoin Cognac which is present in 3 areas: Premiers Bois, Petite Champagne, and Fins Bois.


Discover Cognac Towns – Old and New

Cognac ‘Old Town’

Cognac old town is the medieval part of the town. It has narrow streets along beautiful homes built between 15th and the 18th century.

Saint Jacques Gate in Cognac, France

While exploring Cognac old town, you will move around the Chateau and the river, south of the ‘old gateway’ and witness the beauty of Rue Grande, Rue Magdeleine and Rue Saulnier.

The old town has some world-famous distilleries. you can visit them and relish Cognac!

Cognac ‘New Town’

The east end of Cognac is like any other modern French town having several shops, cafes and other activities buzzing. The atmosphere is lively. People can visit public gardens situated right in the centre of Cognac.

Some of the nearby cities of Cognac include Javrezac, Chateaubernard, Saint-Brice, Boutiers-Saint-Trojan, Merpins, Cherves-Richemont, Nercillac and Saint-Laurent-de-Cognac.


The Culinary Specialists In Cognac Region

The local gastronomy boasts of two things: skill and fresh ingredients.

Drinking and eating are essential for the people in Cognac. The region offers food choice in plenty for people to supplement the finest Cognac’s produced here.

Crème Brulée

Crème Brulée dessert, which is also known by the names of Trinity cream or burnt creama, is usually served chilled.

The Crème Brulée

The rich custard base of Crème Brulée is topped with a layer of caramelized sugar. It is the caramelizing process that warms the custard and produces a cool centre. People usually love vanilla flavour; however, there are other varieties too.

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin is a pastry with fruits caramelized in butter and sugar before baking the tart.

It was served as a signature dish at Hotel Tatin and received its name from it. Though there are several stories about the origin of the dish, the most accepted one is of Stephanie Tatin.

One day she was tired and forgot apples cooking in sugar and butter. The burning smell caught her nostrils. She then tried to rescue the dish by adding pastry base on the pan of apples and finished it by putting it in the oven giving birth to Tarte Tatin.

Scallops L’Orange

One of the favourite sea products of French people.

In Cognac, one can relish the delicious recipe – Scallops L’Orange. It is a tweak on the traditional method of cooking scallop. In this recipe, sautéed shallots are laced with Grand Marnier sauce, and a small amount of crème Fraiche is poured on the searing scallops.

Halibut Provencal

It is a classic recipe that people love to combine with Cognac.

It has all the flavours of the region – shallots, tomatoes, fennel, olives, garlic, and fresh sage. The seasoned fish is served with a pan sauce on rice or couscous. A lot of people like to eat lemon tart to finish this meal.


Cognac Bertrand proposes a Cognac tasting and food pairing. This is a chance to try traditional food!


Check out list of wine tastings & tours in Cognac to find more!

Share about Cognac region:

Region Highlights

Surface: 79636
Wineries:
Soil: Chalky
Climate: Warm and Temperate

Selected wineries in Cognac

Bourgoin Cognac
Cheer yourself up with a glass of Cognac.
Château Montifaud Cognac
Come visit a distillery respectful of traditions.
Cognac Bertrand
Jules Gautret
Explore the wine art and the wine tasting at Jules Gautret.

Wine tastings & tours in Cognac

Cognac and Pineau des Charentes tasting and tour at Jules Gautret
Let yourself be carried away by the magic combination of wine tasting and guided tour at Jules Gautret
Cognac tasting and exploration tour at Château Montifaud
Come and learn about the process of making this type of wine having a Cognac tasting and guided tour at Château Montifaud
Cognac tasting and immersion tour at Château Montifaud
Let yourself be transported in the atmosphere of a Cognac cellar during a wine tasting and tour at Château Montifaud
Cognac tasting and private tour at Cognac Bertrand
Let's get a private Cognac tasting and tour at Cognac Bertrand

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