The ABC of spirits by Alexandre Vingtier : E for “Esprit de Cognac”
The ABC’s of spirits by Alexandre Vingtier : E as “Esprit de Cognac”
There are many appellations in Cognac, starting with AOC Cognac for blends or producers who do not wish to mention a vintage, the 1er cru of Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne and Fine Champagne composed of a blend of the two mentioned vintages with at least 50% of the first, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois and Bois Ordinaires or Bois à Terroir (formerly two distinct vintages, now merged). But did you know that there is another AOC from this terroir, protected since 1938? No, I am not referring to Pineaux des Charentes, these cognac-based liqueur wines, but to the esprit de cognac.
It is a wine brandy that is very similar to cognac except that it is distilled for the third time over a naked fire in a copper still, between 80 and 85%, while the heating core of the cognac may not exceed 72.4%. Moreover, the spirit of cognac is never used in the Charente region for any product whatsoever. But what is this fine spirit, and even more expensive to produce, for what and who can it be used for? The answer is found subliminally in the first paragraph….
Indeed, the spirit of cognac is produced exclusively for champagne producers, the most famous sparkling wine in the world, also taking its name from the old French canpayne, champaine and champaigne, from the Latin campania designating a discovered plain. Indeed, the two terroirs share great similarities in their limestone subsoils. And since we do not distil champagne wine, we might as well use a wine brandy with a relatively similar terroir and an equally world-famous reputation. This spirit serves as an alcoholic support for the famous liqueur de dosage or liqueur d’expédition des champagnes, which can itself age for several decades in oak barrels. Because we do not simply add a few drops of sweet wine to measure the great champagnes, for which it takes several years, sometimes several decades to produce blends worthy of this name or old vintages. No, you need a liqueur of about the same age, sometimes even older than the vintage champagne or the great vintage that you are going to sell. As if that were not enough, being interested in spirits can also learn about many other exceptional products. Some even say that the spirit of cognac was once the basis of the greatest perfumes!
Don’t drink and drive. Enjoy responsibly.