Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

The village of Cognac, which lives only 20 thousand people, is known throughout the world thanks to the eponymous drink. Last week I went to the village and saw the cognac making and how to drink this year.

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

For me there were two discoveries: First, cognac is now fashionable to drink diluted with tonic and, second, gone the usual pot-bellied brandy glasses ...

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

To understand how everything is close in Cognac to each other, I post this photograph. It was taken from the balcony of the castle of Valois, in which the Otard cognac house, and immediately there is a building for the Hennessy Martel:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

The drink called Cognac can only be done in the same region, which is divided into 6 regions. Grapes grown in each of them is different in properties and taste.

Brandy, which we buy at the store, usually consists of several different types of cognac and excerpts from different areas. The most "cool" areas deemed Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne and Borderies. Word Champagne (Champagne) denotes limestone, and has no relation to the Champagne region, wherein produce French champagne:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

In one of the cognac houses the museum has samples of soils in some regions. They differ even visually. For example, brandy that is produced from grapes harvested in Grande Champagne has a light, delicate aroma with floral dominant tones:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

The soils of Borderies contain a high percentage of clay and silica. With local vines produce fine, soft and rounded brandies with distinct tones of violets:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

The main white grape varieties, from which the cognac is Ugni Blanc - slowly maturing variety with high acidity, high yield and disease resistance:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

Immediately after the harvest begins spinning grape juice. Juice gives a very sweet:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

The filter grape juice further sent to the fermentation which lasts about three weeks after which the juice into wine with high acidity and containing 9% alcohol. The resulting wine sent for distillation.

The distillation process fault occurs in the traditional "Charentais alembic", consisting of a heated over an open fire extraction boiler (right) cover the boiler in the form of "onion", and the tube bent in a "swan neck", which is further transformed into a coil extending through cooler:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

Wine heated in the boiler. Ethanol has a boiling point lower than water evaporates, and the first through the "swan neck". Next he enters the cooler, which condenses and liquefies again and poured the remaining water in the boiler:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

The wine is distilled twice. The first time the degree of fluid is increased to 27-32%, while during the second distillation to 68-72%. Obtained after a second distillation, a clear liquid called brandy alcohol and goes to further aging in oak barrels:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

During the first years of aging properties of cognac alcohol vary. It becomes darker in color, softer and rounder. The aroma and taste there is a lot of shades, among which the notes of fruit and spice. During the tasting, you can smell it, and if you want to try out the different stages of "readiness" of cognac:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

You can clearly see how the cognac color, depending on age - the right cognac alcohol on the left - cognac with a 6-year delay:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

During excerpts cognac alcohol pulls out of the barrel wall tannins, lignin and vanilla:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

Barrels for brandy made from French oak aged at least 80 years. Oak, as a material for manufacturing drums, chosen because of the strength, the fineness of the structure (i.e., the wine is less evaporate through its pores) and high extractive qualities.

We have been in the production of barrels:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

In the process of aging a significant portion of cognac evaporates through the pores of the wood (in France it is called part des anges - The Angels' Share), so all the cellars stands strong alkogolnyy "Ghost." In the year evaporates about 3% of the liquid:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

During the tasting cognac dial straight from the barrel and poured by the glass:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

Maximum brandy kept in barrels for up to 70 years. After that, its nature and properties remain virtually unchanged and to prevent its further evaporation, it is poured into a glass bottle, the so-called "give-zhony":

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

Properties of cognac in the glass has not changed, and it can be stored for decades because:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

In this age of the cognac is not determined by the year in which it was poured into a barrel, and the number of years of aging. That is, this cognac 1893rd year, still considered the 70 years since it was held in a barrel 70 years:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

In most cases, the brandy is produced by assamblirovaniya (mixing) of different eaux years of aging. Thus, exposure of the final product is determined by the minimum period of exposure components. With mass production of cognac assamblirovanie keeps its organoleptic properties of the same, regardless of the quality of grapes:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

Cognac mixed in large vats and then bottled:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

Cognacs are distinguished by age. There is a system of symbols on the labels of bottles:

* V.S. - at least 2 years

* V.S.O.P. - at least 4 years

* X.O. - not less than 6 years

In addition to these basic categorical designations, there are a huge number of variations:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

taste the brandy on the same principle as the rest of alcohol. Down face downward eye-nose-mouth, that is, at first look, then sniffing, and then try.

In order to fully enjoy the ridge, follow these simple rules:

* Pour 30 milliliters of brandy in a glass-tulip

* Hold it by the stem or base (as pictured below)

* Brandy should be at room temperature

Visual inspection:

* Lift the glass just above eye level. Take a good look at the color and its shades. Good cognac will light brown shades.

* Carefully vzboltnite Rinse the glass and its walls cognac. Look for the "tears" that flow down the walls - the slower they flow, the more years of brandy

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

The next stage - the so-called nose of cognac - the definition of its flavor. This procedure is divided into 3 parts - the nose 3:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

* first nose: Hold the glass to the nose without shaking cognac. Your nose should be in the center of the glass at a distance of a few centimeters from him. Feel very light floral aromas. Generally, brandy flavors are divided into floral, fruity, chocolate, wood, tobacco and earthy.

* 2nd nose: Hold the glass a little closer to the nose to the edge of the level. Shake a little liquid. Experience a more sophisticated tone flavors: lots of fruit tones, pears, apples, shades of exotic fruits and dried fruits. * 3rd nose: Put your nose right into the glass and try to experience the darkest shades of flavor - chocolate, wood and tobacco

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

Tasting:

* In our mouth taste buds are located in different places, such as sweet, we feel the tip of his tongue, sour and salty language at the edges, and the bitterness - at the base. To taste of cognac is fully opened, make a small sip and then retract into his mouth a little air.

* Roll the cognac throughout the oral cavity.

* The taste of cognac appreciate softness and taste play, when the scent is constantly evolving and changing hues and undertones.

* The longer the finish, the better the brandy and above its class.

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

In recent years, whiskey consumption is growing rapidly in the world. It tasted young people and drink a huge amount of cocktails based on it. It is haunted by the producers of brandy. They even began to produce a variety of liqueurs on the basis of cognac who use refrigerated:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

Another example - Canadian cider, which produces home Camus:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

But the biggest surprise for me was the fact that the French, for the sake of increasing sales, changed all my principles. Now optionally drink cognac room temperature and in pure form. All cognac houses we visited, we were offered drinks on the basis of cognac:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

The idea is to offer the market a high-quality cocktails with alcohol than whiskey, cognac therefore began to actively mix with tonic and, moreover, it is added to a lemon, that earlier was considered by the French as a full mauvais ton:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

For cocktails recommended brandies young V.S. or V.S.O.P. Aged brandies X.O. and older still offer drink undiluted:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

Sam brandy to the table, too, can now file a frozen:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

The National Interprofessional Office of Cognac, who invited me on this trip, is actively promoting the Summit cocktail with brandy, which includes:

- quartered lime

- 4 thin slices of ginger

- a long piece of cucumber peel

- 60 ml brandy

- 120 ml of lemonade

- 4-5 ice cubes

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask

Until recently, the traditional glass of brandy was considered a "snifter" or spherical glass, narrowed upwards, with a large bowl and a short leg. This glass held in his hands, warming brandy its warmth swirled brandy on the walls of the bowl and enjoyed its flavors, plunging his nose into the glass.

Now everything has changed, and now the more traditional glass is considered a "tulip" or a glass with a cup in the shape of a closed tulip bud on a high leg. This glass keeps the stem or base, as a wine glass, brandy is rotated along the walls of the bowl, allowing it to actively "breathe" oxygen, and enjoy the aromas of cognac through a narrow "output" glass:

Everything you wanted to know about Cognac, but were afraid to ask