PDA

View Full Version : Cognac



MJL
11-20-2010, 21:08
I've been drinking Cognac for a couple decades without getting any sort of education on the spirit. Anyone care to fill in my uneducated brain on the subject?

sku
11-20-2010, 23:16
Not sure exactly what you want to know, but here is a very brief primer that I did: http://recenteats.blogspot.com/2009/01/introducing-brandy-friday-time-for.html

And a very nice summary from The Party Source: http://www.thepartysource.com/spirits_blog_view.php?article=00328

Josh
11-21-2010, 07:00
Here's an even briefer primer: Cognac is a grape brandy from the Cognac area of France.

OscarV
11-21-2010, 07:06
Here's an even briefer primer: Cognac is a grape brandy from the Cognac area of France.



Speaking of cognac, I never did try the one you brought over a couple of weeks ago.
Were gonna have to rectify that.

Josh
11-21-2010, 11:09
Most definately! That was the Marie Duffau Napoleon Armangac. Highly recommended by Lost Pollito, and now me too!:grin:

DanG
11-23-2010, 02:29
If I'm not mistaken, Cognac is distilled from wine. I've had grape brandy before... it's actually not very interesting.

Josh
11-23-2010, 04:19
Yes, wine made from grapes. Ugni Blanc mostly. I was not aware that there was a difference between "grape brandy" and brandy made from wine. IIRC, all brandies are distilled wines (whether made from grapes or other fruit), like whiskeys are distilled beers. More or less.

cowdery
11-23-2010, 10:50
"Grape brandy" could be considered redundant since brandy is assumed to be from grapes unless some other fruit is specified, e.g., apple brandy.

The other point of confusion is that in the U.S. there are flavored brandies, e.g., blueberry brandy, which are not distilled from those fruits but which, instead are conventional (i.e., grape-based) brandy flavored with natural or artificial flavors. It's easy to get confused by, say 'apricot brandy,' although 'coffee brandy' is a little more obvious.

Cognac is simply a brandy made in the Cognac region, that meets other specifications set by French law. One could not, for example, make an apple brandy in Cognac and call it Cognac. One could not even make it from Chardonnay grapes since Cognac must be made from the Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, or Colombard varieties. As a practical matter, almost all of it is Ugni Blanc.

Generically, brandy is distilled wine just as whiskey is distilled beer. Fruit spirits that do not have a grape base are often called eau de vie, but they are categorized as brandy.

Vange
11-23-2010, 11:06
This is all from memory, so if I am a tad off on a "fact" below please dont kill me.

All Cognac is brandy not all brandy is Cognac.

Cognac is twice distilled grapes using a pot still from Cognac region of France.
Armagnac, also brandy, but not Cognac, is single distilled in a column still from Armagnac, France. Cognac is made mostly from Ugni Blanc. Armagnac has more flexibility with grape varietals.

I love both, only issue is the young ones tend to be tough to drink. They age beautifully though and the XOs and up are really great stuff. I stick to smaller Cognac houses rather than the big 4.

ALSO, some truly great alambic brandy being made today is from California. Germain-Robin makes great stuff using Cognac making techniques, but in Cali and with higher quality grapes. Ugni Blanc is not a high quality grape, but it's higher than normal acidity makes it ideal for barrel aging for long periods of time.

Some Cognac producers I adore: Maison Surrene, Delamain, Daniel Bouju, Tesseron, and Leopold Gourmel. Of the 3, Delamain, Bouju, and Tesseron are my favs.

DanG
11-23-2010, 20:40
Here in Germany, distillers make brandy that comes from grapes in several ways: you can distill wine, you can distill what's left over from pressing grapes for wine (like marc/grappa), you can distill the sediment left at the bottom of a wine barrel (don't know what it's called in English, but here it's Hefeschnaps (yeast spirit) or Weinhefebrand (wine-yeast brandy), or you can distill grape juice directly. All are brandies that came from grapes originally, but of course the differences are large. Though I must say, the Weinhefebrand can be a lot better than it sounds.

cowdery
11-23-2010, 20:54
Here in Germany, distillers make brandy that comes from grapes in several ways: you can distill wine, you can distill what's left over from pressing grapes for wine (like marc/grappa), you can distill the sediment left at the bottom of a wine barrel (don't know what it's called in English, but here it's Hefeschnaps (yeast spirit) or Weinhefebrand (wine-yeast brandy), or you can distill grape juice directly. All are brandies that came from grapes originally, but of course the differences are large. Though I must say, the Weinhefebrand can be a lot better than it sounds.

One cannot "distill grape juice directly." One can only distill something that has first been fermented. Fermented grape juice is wine. Pomace brandy (what's made from the leavings) is also fermented first. Fermentation produces alcohol while distillation just concentrates the alcohol by removing some of the water left after fermentation concludes. Wine barrel dregs will, of course, already have alcohol in them.

SMOWK
11-24-2010, 15:14
One cannot "distill grape juice directly." One can only distill something that has first been fermented. Fermented grape juice is wine. Pomace brandy (what's made from the leavings) is also fermented first. Fermentation produces alcohol while distillation just concentrates the alcohol by removing some of the water left after fermentation concludes. Wine barrel dregs will, of course, already have alcohol in them.

I don't think you would get any alcohol by putting grape juice in a still.

DanG
11-25-2010, 10:25
Hmm -- well, thanks for the explanation, then!

imbibehour
11-29-2010, 19:55
I find Cognac just too oak-y for me.. unless it's really long aged and then it's just too dang expensive...

Calvados anyone :) (just mixing it up).

DanG
12-03-2010, 07:31
Okay, so I asked the friend of mine here who knows a lot about distilling (his friend is the distiller I know) -- the "grape brandy" (or "Traubenbrand") is different from what's called brandy in English ("Weinbrand" in German) because the juice is just given a little time to ferment before being distilled. It doesn't get fermented to the alcohol level of most wine (more like the new wine you get around here in the fall) and certainly not aged. That's also probably why the flavor isn't as interesting.