Cognac is a type of brandy that is considered as one of the finest spirits made from white grapes grown in the Charante region of France. In fact, the brandy is named after the town of Cognac in Charante. As the wine is sometimes subjected to double heating, it is sometimes called burnt wine.
What Are The Raw Materials Used To Make Cognac?
Samit-Emillion and Colombard are regarded as the ideal grapes for making cognac. Other grape varieties like Monfis, Juirancon, Blanche and Sauvignon are used in distilling cognac. The grapes are fruity in the winter and have the potential to produce 8-9% alcohol. It is when they are harvested. If the alcohol content in grapes is less than 8%, they are not potent enough to produce the desired aroma while alcohol content greater than 9% is not regarded as an adequate concentration.
Cognac is aged in wooden barrels or casks, with the vanillin and tannin in the wood giving the drink its unique properties. It is one of the popular liquor gifts that many choose.
How Is Cognac Made?
Steps in the manufacture of cognac are given below:
Pressing The Grapes
In this step, the grapes collected from the farms are pressed and the juice is allowed to undergo natural fermentation. No sugar or sulfur dioxide is added in this step.
After the wine is fermented, it is poured into pot stills enclosed in brick kilns. Each pot still has the capacity to hold approximately 300 bottles of cognac. The kilns are heated to temperatures between 173 and 212 till the point at which alcohol evaporates out of the fermented liquid.
The alcohol vapors are collected inside the cowl and swan’s neck of the pot still. They are then passed through the condenser coil and inside the coil, the alcohol condenses. The condensed liquid, called ‘broullis’ has about 30% alcohol by volume.
In a process known as ‘bonnechauffe’, the broullis is heated the second time. In the process, the distiller isolates the heart of the liquid and separates it from what is known as the ‘head’ and tail portion. The head portion has very high alcohol content while the tail portion lacks alcohol.
Eau de vie is the remaining liquid that looks clear and has 70% alcohol by volume.
Eau de vie is piped into oak casks housed in large warehouses. The brandy will be kept inside newer casks for a period between one or two years. The storage time is dependent on the desired amount of tannin.
Aging And Blending
Depending on the final product desired, cogac is moved into older casks. It is tasted once in a year to decide if it should be moved into another cask or not.
To produce the cognac of desired quality, cognac over varying vintages are blended appropriately. Blending is done over at least one year and samples are taken annually. After the cognac is finally ready, it is packed into attractive handcrafted glass bottles.