Today we celebrate Cognac Day 2021. To celebrate the day, we share recommendations from three cognac importers in Australia.
But what is cognac?
Cognac is a spirit made from white wine which is distilled in alembic stills, that is copper alembic stills, which is then aged in oak barrels for at least 2 years.
The white wine grapes used to make cognac are principally the ugni blanc but also colombard, folle-blanche and recently folignan, a crossbreed of ugni blanc and folle-blanche.
Where does cognac come from?
Cognac is made in France in a demarcated region centred around Cognac, englobing a large part of Charente, almost all of Charente-Maritime, and a few enclaves in Dordogne and in Deux-Sèvres.
To know more about cognac, read our Cognac Day 2020 article.
Which cognacs to drink for Cognac Day 2021?
Cerbaco & Spirits of France
Manu Condé, Ambassador for NSW & TAS at Cerbaco and Spirits of France gives us his Cognac Day 2021 recommendations.
I recommend a delicious Cognac at an affordable price: Jean Fillioux Le Coq!
The Fillioux family has always been in charge of blends for Maison Hennessy. But Le Coq is a cognac from their family range, made entirely at the La Pouyade vineyard. It’s therefore a “winemaker-distiller” cognac, quite unique for the category. The Fillioux family is based in the heart of the Premier Cru of Cognac in Grande Champagne. Their reputation is immense among French starred restaurants. A great discovery, at a great price.
I like this cognac after a long lunch, to let the discussion continue. Its fresh fruit notes are a nice accompaniment to a fruit tart, such as an apricot clafoutis.
I also recommend a vintage Cognac, Cognac de Collection Jean Grosperrin 1990 Fin Bois “single cask”! A small one in the world of Coganc! From the rare and powerful Fin Bois terroir, this vintage was bottled in 2017, so 27 years in cask. Bottled “brut de fut” (natural alcohol content), it is a real discovery for Cognac lovers. Father’s Day gift? For the 14th of July? A unique bottle, limited to 36 units for Australia.
A “reine de Saba” chocolate gift is for me the perfect companion to this exceptional Cognac.
Mind Sprits & Co.
Mikael Gillard from Mind Spirits & Co. recommends Propriétaire Récoltant Raymond Ragnaud XO 25 years for Cognac Day 2021.
In 1860, the family of Raymond Ragnaud owned a small vineyard in the Grande Champagne, the most sought-after area of the quality of its eaux-de-vie which were particulary suited for ageing, planted only with Ugni-blanc and Folle blanche grapes, the best varieties of the Charente vineyards.
In 1920, Paul Ragnaud settled in the Château of Ambleville and was succeeded in 1941 by his son Raymond who ran the vineyard and decided to market the eaux-de-vie he had inherited.
In 1963, his wife, with the help of their two children, Françoise and Jean-Marie, expanded the business which now covers 47 hectares in 3 different vineyards – Ambleville, Criteuil and Lignières-Sonneville – lying on the slopes of the Grande Champagne, a unique and exceptionnal area which produces eaux-de-vie of unparalleled quality. These vineyards are cultivated by the Ste Ragnaud-Bricq.
For the last 30 years, Françoise Ragnaud-Bricq, has remained faithful to her roots and carried on the tradition by supervising the grape harvest with meticulousness and great experience. She works hand in hand with the cellar-master to produce eaux-de-vie by distilling only wine harvested in hers vineyards.
Distilling takes place in two stages in two copper pot stills with a capacity of 16 hectolitres. The first distillation is called “Le brouillis”, with an alcohol content of 24° to 32 ° depending on the wine being distilled, which is then distilled a second time to produce the “bonne chauffe” where only the “coeur” (the heart) is retained, with an alcohol content of 70°, producing a crystal-clear pure eau-de-vie.
This nectar remains in their aging cellars for about a year, stocked in a new oak casks from the Limousin area, before being transferred to older casks to avoid excessive tannin. The eaux-de-vie undergo many changes during this long period in the casks: the volume and the alcohol content are reduced; the colour and the bouquet are transformed to become “cognac”. Once they reach maturity, these “eaux-de-vie” are “awakened” after several years to be blended to produce a harmonious, subtle cognac which is both full-bodied and mellow.
Alexandry Coussy from the online store Frenchy Delish which sells cognacs and pineaux speak to us about cognac. He is also the founder of the Cognac Lovers Australia Facebook group.
Why did you start the Cognac Lovers Group?
I started the Cognac Lovers Australia Facebook group because I wanted to create a dynamic Australian community which loves cognac. The aim is to promote cognac but also the small houses on the Australian market through the exchange of information and free online tastings with cellar-masters. My website Frenchy Delish offers Cognac and Pineau which is often very difficult to find in Australia.
Why do you like Coganc so much?
I like cognac so much because I was born in Charente which is one of the départements in which Cognac is made. My grandfather worked for Martell and he had vines in les Borderies, a vintage that is particularly close to my heart. For me, cognac is a way of prolonging this very important connection with my native land of Cognac and France in general. And it is also a way to show the voice to my son who was born on Australian soil. Cognac is about promoting French heritage and know-how.
How many different cognacs do you estimate you’ve tried in your life?
I have tasted more cognacs than most people but there are people who have tasted more cognacs [than me]. I would say 50 or so cognacs in total, which isn’t huge when you consider that there are more than 300 producers and each producer has at least 4 cognacs in their range. It’s a life’s work!
What is your favourite cognac?
There are a few brands that are close to my heart: Hine, Frapin, Croizet, Delamain. And then I would say Camus, Grosperrin to complete the top 6. There are other exceptional cognacs that I have not yet tasted and which could very well replace these brands.
After all it is a story of preference. These brands are close to my heart because they were the first brands that I selected during my first cognac tasting that I organised in Australia in 2012 in Darling Harbour. This tasting was even more special because I met my partner who is now the mother of my son.
If it was your last night on Earth, which cognac would you drink?
A Camus XO Borderies or a Grosperrin 12 ans Borderies or even a Frapin Fontpinot XO or a Croizet Extra. If I had to choose one, it would probably be the Grosperrin 12 years Borderies and then perhaps the Frapin Fontpinot XO or the Croizet Extra. Beyond a name you have to see the people who work behind these cognacs and also the terroir and for the mentioned cognacs they are exceptional producers and terroirs!
Which cognac would you recommend for Cognac Day 2021?
For Cognac Day, it depends on your budget! The Camus Borderies VSOP is a killer for $125! It is light, floral and very elegant and comes from the Borderies which is the smallest and one of the most sought after cognac cru for its floral notes of violet.
Then if you have a higher budget then you can go for an XO it’s a little jewel for the price, $200 only and 35 years old! Normally an XO is around $220 and it’s 20 years old. This Delamain Vesper comes from the best vintage, Grande Champagne, it is very round in the mouth and quite woody with vanilla notes. It’s incredible and Delamain have redesigned the packaging to be more modern. It’s been a long time since I’ve had one, it makes me want to try it again!
A cognac group
If you like cognac, join other cognac lovers in the Cognac Lovers Australia Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/718212112337929
Social media tags for Cognac Day 2021
If you drink Cognac today for Cognac Day, use the following hashtags on your posts:
#cognacday #NationalCognacDay #journeeducognac #cognac
Happy Cognac Day 2021!
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