Ageing


 Angels fly over the town.

 

"O temps, suspends ton vol"           Lamartine

The Angel's share

Only a long period of maturing in oakwood casks allows an eau-de-vie to become a Cognac.

The oak wood, quite porous, keeps the Cognac in permanent contact with the naturally humid or dry air of the cellars while losing some of its alcoholic content. This evaporation leaves a dark hallow over the walls of the town, poetically called 'The Angels Share'.

A microscopic fungus - the 'torula compniacensis Richon', develops thanks to the humid air of the cellars.
The angels over Cognac 'drink' each year some twenty million bottles per year, making them the second largest market for Cognac after the United States!
After the double distillation, the Cognac starts to mature at a maximum of 72% alcohol. Time will help it lose over a third, reaching not less than 40% in order to be sold.
 
The Ageing process follows three main phases:
 
The 'extraction', during which the wood transfers to the eau-de-vie most of its tannin, boisé and taste. The newly distilled colourless eau-de-vie takes on some of the wood's tannins, naturally attaining its golden amber color. Each Cognac house decides on the respective length of stay in young and old casks according to the desired quality: the younger wood will transmit far more tannin to the eau-de-vie than the older.
The 'ageing', also called degradation or hydrolysis, is the period during which the eau-de-vie flattens. After two to three years of maturing, the eau-de-vie reaches qualities proper to consumption. But if allowed more time, the Cognac gains in complexity, perfume, aroma and taste. Bouquet and mellow reach their finest after fifty years.

Finally, the 'oxidation' gives the eau-de-vie its final bouquet and golden shade.

 

Ageing cellars – Casks

Patience and method.

Hine Cellar

Ageing takes place in casks that hold between 270 to 450 litres of eau-de-vie.
The natural humidity of the cellars in which the casks are stored, with its influence on evaporation, is one of the determining factors in the ageing process.

Maturing Cognac may last decades, and is made possible thanks to the wood’s porosity. It allows indirect contact between the spirit in the casks and the air outside.
With time, the transfer of the natural characteristics of the oak gradually produces «rancio» aromas and develops the bouquet of Cognac.

Cognac ages exclusively in oak casks traditionally from the Tronçais and Limousin forests.These two varieties of oak were selected because of their hardness, porosity and extractive characteristics.
The Tronçais forest, in Allier, provides softer, finely grained wood, which is particularly porous to alcohol.

The Limousin forest produces medium grained wood, harder and even more porous.

The tanins in Tronçais oak are famous for their softness, whereas those in Limousin oak are known for the power and balance they communicate to Cognac. An eau-de-vie will extract more tanins when it is aged in casks made with Limousin oak.

 

Most eaux de vie stay first in new casks, then are transfered in old casks.

Old eaux de vie stay in older casks that will not bring tanins.

 

Paradise

Each Cognac house stores its oldest Cognacs in demi-johns ('Dame Jeanne') in remote cellars known as 'Paradise'.

Once transferred into glass, the Cognac is no longer in contact with the air or wood, and stops maturing. It remains immutable.

 Tiffon's 'Dame Jeanne'

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Le Cognac is dedicated to further the presence of the small Cognac Houses in the global market.
It is present in the USA through its participation in Cognac Inc, a licensed importer of high-end Cognacs
and animates Club Cognac, a worldwide network of Cognac lovers and sommeliers.
1801 Cordova Street
Coral Gables, Florida, 33134
United States

 

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