Cognac & Quality Designations:
V.S. (Very Special): The youngest cognac allowed on the market; must be at least two and a half years old.
V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale), V.O. (Very Old) or Reserve: Minimum age of four and a half years.
Napoleon, X.O. (Extra Old), Extra or Hors d’Age: Minimum age of six and a half years.
For a distilled brandy to bear the name Cognac, an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée found in western France, its production methods must meet certain legal requirements. In particular, it must be made from specified grapes, of which Ugni Blanc, known locally as Saint-Emilion, is the one most widely used at the present time. The brandy must be twice distilled in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in French oak barrels from either Limousin or Troncais. Cognac matures in the same way as whiskies and wine when aged in barrels, and most cognacs are aged considerably longer than the minimum legal requirement.
Priced extremely reasonably, Courvoisier VS is one of the few VS-level cognacs out there that’s really worth drinking on its own, rather than using it for mixing. It has a smoothness and flavor on level with some VSOP’s of a number of other makers. Subtle flavors, smooth delivery and a delightful finish make this one a Best Buy.
A nose steeped in vanilla and oak layered with sweet spice notes and warmth. The oak steps forward on the tongue and is backed by a distinctive char and followed with subtle vanilla and a finish of smooth spice that lingers. It has a certain depth to it that hints at layers of complexity that shift with each sip, the spices slowly unwinding into a pleasant warmth.
It’s a powerful and rather woody blend, with spicy aromas; complex but remains solidly round. The extremely rich palate brings oak and leather together with slightly sweet notes of jasmine and fruit. A well balanced work, with a good sense of pepper and rancio.
Armagnac predates cognac by about 150 years. These brandies are deeply rooted in a part of the culinary landscape there as are foie gras and duck confit. Unlike cognac which uses pot stills, armagnac is made using column stills and is distilled only once (cognacs are double-distilled). Many connoisseurs find armagnacs to have more finesse and roundness than a typical cognac.
Refined and elegant, with a rich smoky bouquet reminiscent of dried fruit. Flavors of plum and notes of vanilla can be detected on the full and spicy, lingering mellow finish.
From the Pays d’Auge, the most sought after appellation contrôlée of Calvados, this lovely apple brandy features a rich fruity nose with a light woody touch, toasted nut notes and hint of brioche. Velvety, elegant and delicate, the balanced flavors of apple, vanilla & wood linger on the tongue harmoniously.