Fundamental Cognac Selection
Fundamental Cognac Selection
Here at Cognac Expert, it’s our mission to inform and share knowledge on all things Cognac – so for our latest Cognac Education campaign we’re breaking it down to the fundamentals of our beloved spirit. Starting with the four main tasting directions – discover exactly how to distinguish one Cognac from another. And since we work closely with different producers and are even neighbors with some of the best artisans of the region, we’ll be sharing some of the top large label brands alongside our favorite small producers in this feature. Uncover our fundamental Cognac selections below.
The 6 Crus of Cognac
Split into 6 different growth areas, the soils and conditions in which the grapes used to make Cognac are grown also play a part in the taste and overall refinement of the finished product. While the Grande Champagne cru wears its prestigious reputation with pride, let it be known that there are many hard-to-come-by Cognac jewels produced in the other Cognac crus too. Explore our top Cognac picks from each cru below.
Reason for choosing: one of the best rated Cognacs
Fruity, multifaceted and complex from beginning to end. Non-chill filtered, not colored or boiséd, this is a beautiful half a century old Cognac straight from the barrel.
Reason for choosing: A great newcomer XXO
It's a product of around 30 years spent aging in French oak barrels that combines Ugni Blanc grapes with the much rarer Folle Blanche variety - a unique offering.
Reason for choosing: Petite Champagne at tis best
Le Cognac de Noël is the stunning final chapter in the L’Esprit de Famille series which had been patiently aging in the cellars of Noël and Marie-France Gay since 1994.
Reason for choosing: Aged on oak casks for around 35 Years
Distilled using the traditional method have been carefully selected by the Cellar Master Seph to produce an elegant and powerful Petite Champagne Cognac.
Reason for choosing: Value for money
The Ordonneau Très Vieille Reserve de Borderies Cognac reveals a fruity, fragrant and well-rounded Borderies profile. A hidden gem and must-try for those looking to explore a smaller artisan Cognac house.
Reason for choosing: Highly Recommended by our customers
A single estate delight created from eaux-de-vie grown in the Borderies terroir, with the final result: an intensely aromatic Cognac.
Reason for choosing: We love Jean
A delightful single-barrel Cognac produced using traditional methods. The vintage is from 1957 and is stunningly oak-rich with a cask strength of 48%. Only few bottles left.
Reason for choosing: Single Cask Vintage
An exuberant single cask Fins Bois Cognac from 1996. Characterized by dominant nuances of violet, jasmine and exotic fruits. A truly tantalizing treat for those that enjoy complex aromas.
Reason for choosing: Pure Bons Bois and summer Cognac
Eau-de-vie from the Bons Bois Cru have good body, age fairly quickly, and often possess charmingly rustic textures.
Reason for choosing: Unique Concept
A unique Cognac concept, this eaux-de-vie has been aged just meters from the Atlantic Ocean ins a cliffside damp cellar. The result is a Cognac with fruit notes of dried grapes, dominant orange and a sweetness of caramel.
Reason for choosing: From the island Ile d’Oléron
Grosperrin N°90 Bois Ordinaire de l'Ile d'Oléron Cognac is the sublime result of the Bois Ordinaires sandy soils, alongside a large exposure to the Atlantic Ocean and almost Mediterranean sunshine.
Main Taste directions
From spicy notes to fruity, floral and wood based aromatic profiles – there truly is a Cognac to suit every palate. Finding the right one for you may require experience but a good recommendation will certainly lead you in the right direction too. Check out our Cognac selections according to tasting profile.
And what about Rancio?
As part of our range of educational Cognac articles, we invite you to join us as we explore a Cognac phenomenon that’s shrouded in mystery— that of rancio. This is a topic that is very much open to interpretation and never fails to spark a lively debate amongst connoisseurs. Indeed the mere mention of the word will evoke a lengthy discussion and an array of opinions that are undoubtedly best shared over a thorough Cognac tasting session.
Vallein Tercinier Hors d'Age
Growth Area: Fine Champagne
ABV: 42 %
Cognac Age: Hors d'Age
Rancio at its best.
The Vallein Tercinier Hors d'Age Cognac really needs to be tasted to be believed, as it boasts ultra-premium level quality, surprisingly however, without the ultra-premium price tag to match. This affordable blend of both Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne eaux-de-vie is an award winning offering - from a house that takes true pride in its small, but simply sublime range of brandy and spirits. A beautifully balanced blend that has been created from over 20 different eaux-de-vie, the youngest of which has spent a minimum of four decades whiling away in oak barrels, during which time Mother Nature worked her magic.
The Age Categories
VS: Aged 2 Years +
Suitable for Cocktails, Mixed Drinks & Cooking
VS Cognac stands for “Very Special” Cognac. A VS Cognac must be aged for a minimum of two years. It is also referred to as ‘Sélection’, ‘De Luxe’ or simply ***. If you see three stars on a cognac bottle, it means it is in the VS age category. This means that the youngest eau-de-vie that was used to create the blend was aged in oak barrels for at least two years.
VSOP: Aged 4 Years +
Suitable for Cocktails, On Ice & Cooking
You’re probably wondering what does VSOP mean. Well the official term stands for for “Very Superior Old Pale”, although it is often referred to as “Very Special Old Pale”. The origin of the expression dates back to an order made by the British Royal Court in 1817. King George IV asked the House of Hennessy for a “Very Superior Old Pale”, which would become a benchmark for all cognac houses from then on. At the time it was very common to use sugar and caramel to sweeten cognac, and this description alluded to one created without these additives.
XO: Aged 10 Years +
Suitable on ice, neat & paired with food
So what does XO mean for Cognac? The terminology stands for ‘Extra Old’ and describes a cognac consisting of eaux-de-vie that have been aged in oak barrels for a minimum of 10 years. Just like VS (Very Special) and VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale), Extra Old is another English expression, which shows the strong connection to foreign countries, especially Great Britain and America.
XXO: Aged 14 Years +
Suitable on ice, neat & paired with food
XXO stands for ‘extra extra old’, and is a relatively new category that was officially added to the description of cognac ages in 2018. Just as with the other age descriptions of cognac, VS, VSOP and XO, an XXO Cognac consists of eau-de-vie that’s been aged within French oak barrels. But in the case of an XXO, the minimum length of aging to qualify is 14 years. This makes an XXO cognac the oldest official rating a cognac can hold.
Read our blog article and discover the best XXO Cognacs (so far).
Vintage: Single Year +
A Vintage Cognac is a Cognac from a single year and a single harvest, not a blend from different eaux-de-vie like an XO or a VSOP. It is also referred to as a Millésime Cognac. We commonly know this from Whisky as “single barrel“, which means the spirit comes from one single source: one year, one estate, one barrel. Vintage Cognacs are in trend and it's actually a very special gift to find a Vintage Cognac of a birthday, or one that marks an anniversary.
A relatively new incentive which sees Cognac Expert partner with local Cognac producers, L’ESSENTIEL invites customers to give back to the producer and directly support them in maintaining their livelihood. L’ESSENTIEL editions focus on the ethos “ralentir, réfléchir, réunir” honing in on slowing down, reflecting and reconnecting.
L’ESSENTIEL Season 2 has already seen the release of the A29 Grosperrin and the A45 Marancheville. More will be on the way - wink, wink. Cognac lovers around the world have been receiving their bottles and enjoying the unique aromas, flavors, and sensations presented with these two stunning Cognacs.
There were changes from Season 1 to Season 2. Let’s be clear here: the ethos of L’ESSENTIEL from its conception - slow down, reflect, reunite - is here to stay. We believe that sharing a glass of high quality and unique Cognac with friends and family is a perfect means to this end. But, your questions as to how L’ESSENTIEL has evolved and what to expect in terms of the Cognac itself and the design certainly need answering.
For this reason, we suggest that you head over to the blog and read through the article entirely devoted to explaining L’ESSENTIEL Season 2 and why we think this Season’s Cognacs are deserving of your attention.
L'ESSENTIEL A29 Grosperrin
Growth Area: Fins Bois
ABV: 47.8 %
Lot: N°940 - Single Cask
Natural: No additives, non-chill filtered
Limited Edition: 152 bottles
L'ESSENTIEL A29 Grosperrin comes from the heart of the Fins Bois cru, between the communes of Matha Le Goulet and Thors. The vines that produced the wine, and therefore eau-de-vie, came from merely a few hectares of vines at the named place “Chez Train”. This part of the Fins Bois is particularly reputed for its agricultural and wine production - the proof being that 83% of the land at this location is devoted to these cultivations. Moreover, Parish records dating from 1686 make reference to the quality of this sector of the cru. According to Guilhem Grospserrin himself, the terroir is textbook Fins Bois: clay and limestone soil.
Add some honey and a drop of maple syrup, and you're up for a fantastic breakfast!
A single cask from Matha Le Goulet. I had first thought this could be a 1929 but on second thought, after having seen the price (164€) I believe it's safe to say that it's younger and shouldn't quite belong here. Maybe a '92? But 'once poured'… Colour: deep gold. Nose: pleasures all around, with...
Classic Aged Fins Bois
Classic aged Fins Bois with sweet, dark, deep orange fruit greeting the nose, perhaps blood orange? It’s more pronounced at the rim of the glass, as the ethanol is escaping the glass. I don’t know whether to drink this, or peel and eat it. The fruit is big, as in Grande Champagne big!! As...
A delicious Fins Bois from Grosperrin. You have to be patient and give this cognac a lot of time and oxygen in your glass to explore its character. I wrote this review with the bottle open for more than 5 weeks and about one third left in the bottle. Beautiful colour, a really fine nose, excellent...
Solid young fins bois
This is a nice younger cognac from Grosperrin. It is a powerful fins bois, quite dark. On the nose it is beautiful, you will find orange jam, leather and oak. In mouth it is both spicy and sweet. You immediately feel the power. The glass empties fast, you need rapid refills. The finish is however...
Dark and stormy A29 Grosperrin
I like to think that most grosperrin has an identity that I can spot despite the many producers that all create different cognacs. For Grosperrin to me it is that yellow stone fruit, think of peaches and a touch of honey. Often mixed with a good touch of flowers. They always have just enough of an...
Nose is so delicious
Reddish amber in the glass with gold highlights on the edges, an honest color. First nose is so delicious, hints of cigar box, freshly cut hardwood, but fruity, deep fruits, and a sense of the high abv. Time changes little, others have used the word “precise” and that fits. Mouth-filling, but...
Nose: Fruity (orange, a touch of lime), marzipan, subliminal lilac and very well integrated wood notes. Taste: Blood orange, clear wood tones , but absolutely within the framework. Lilac, the 47.8% is noticeable. Finish: medium to long, still restrained orange and strong wood notes. Verdict: Successful...
L'ESSENTIEL A45 Marancheville
Growth Area: Grande Champagne
ABV: 42.8 %
Natural: No additives, non-chill filtered
Limited Edition: 175 bottles
This wonderfully mature L'ESSENTIEL A45 Marancheville Cognac comes from vines situated in the heart of the Grande Champagne, notably the communes of Julliac-le-Coq and Marancheville. The terroir is textbook Grande Champagne terroir: Campanian chalk, a chalky limestone soil not unlike the soils found in the Champagne region’s Montagne de Reims and Côte des Blancs. But we’re not talking about bubbly Champagne here. This is Cognac.
With so many superb Cognac varieties on offer, from sophisticated blends to timeless eaux-de-vie, it’s hard to choose just one to enjoy. Thanks to our 2022 edition of the Cognac Calendar, you don’t have to. The 2022 version of our limited-edition Calendar allows you to taste 24 unique Cognacs from a range of fantastic artisanal houses.
Each Calendar is filled with 24 x 30ml bottles to allow you to experience a full variety of flavors and aromas. There’s plenty to go around if you’re in the mood for sharing, but we won’t blame you if you prefer to keep it all for yourself…
- Strictly limited quantity
- This year’s selection features a range of premium Cognacs, all strictly at least XO quality: XO, Extra, Hors d'Age, and beyond. A stunning concentration of exceptionally mature spirits in a single box
- Free worldwide shipping
Customer Voices about our Calendars
Top 4 Cognac Brands vs. Small Producers
At Cognac Expert, we believe in supporting local Cognac makers and farming families, constantly exchanging ideas with our neighbors. After all, without them, we wouldn’t be here. L'ESSENTIEL is one of our projects.
Operating from the Charente region from our family estate, we create ties between the local and the global by nurturing relationships with our neighboring producers, and presenting their craft Cognacs on a international stage.
Here at Cognac Expert, we believe that our story speaks volumes. As farmers ourselves, we understand what it is to grow vines; the successes and challenges, and the fleeting beauty of a fruitful harvest. Our family has been farming in the French Charentais region for generations, and with our curated selection of products online, we offer both connoisseurs and newcomers a glimpse into the hidden corners of the Cognac world.