Geographical origin of VSOP Cognacs
The famous vineyard of the delimited region of Cognac (Law of 1904) is located to the South-West of Paris, about 480 kilometers and about a hundred kilometers to the North-East of Bordeaux. The white wines harvested from mostly Ugni Blanc grape varieties, sometimes Folle Blanche, are then distilled after the harvest, very often in October, by double heating in a Charentais red copper still heated over an open flame. The Cognac vineyard extends over approximately 80,000 hectares for annual sales, all qualities combined, of the order of two hundred and ten million bottles, ie one bottle sold every five seconds in approximately 200 markets around the world.
These Eaux-de-Vie called Cognac after a minimum of 4 years of aging with very fresh aromas with a wide range of white flowers and candied fruits lightly marked with elegance with touches of blond tobacco, spices, musk, can be tasted neat at room temperature or on ice or in a cocktail with citrus flavors. These cognacs are therefore relatively young and therefore less old than Napoleon, XO, Extra or very high-end cognacs.
The list of VSOP cognacs would be too long to mention, but among the best known and recognized, examples include Martell, Hennessy, Courvoisier and Rémy Martin, which represent around 90% of VSOP cognacs sold worldwide. There are also many less important houses but whose qualities with the mention VSOP are real treasures of excellence. All these VSOP cognacs have been selected by the Best Cognac Champagne website for their exceptional qualities.
The Secrets of the Alchemy of VSOP Cognacs
The Cognac appellation will only be acquired after the following year of the harvest and the distillation must end on March 31 of each year. The eaux-de-vie must then be aged in French oak barrels and listed by age count from count 0 to count 10 (10 years). It is the cellar master who will, throughout the aging period, monitor and prepare the blends of the different years that will make up the cognacs. A whole art. The qualities of the barrels and the cellars will sublimate, over time and forgetting time, the primary olfactory and taste qualities of the cognacs by giving them very fine subtleties such as the scents of white spring flowers, leather or even musk, oak, vanilla, Ente plums, candied apricot, spices, to end with hints of mocha and chocolate. All these nuances will strengthen, become more complex over time until the perfection of sometimes century-old cognacs.
Origin of VSOP Cognac blends
All VSOP cognacs are made from blends of several crus from the delimited cognac region, but must, in accordance with current legislation, be at least 5 years old after mandatory aging in French oak barrels or in cécille oak in cellars sheltered from light and ideally bordered not far from the Charente river, as in Cognac, or in Jarnac, or any other small "arm" of this river or a source of humidity.
Age of VSOP Cognacs
All VSOPs that are at least 5 years old are eligible for the Cognac VSOP appellation, but most of them are aged much longer and are very often blended with even older cognacs. Their characteristics depend on the qualitative approach of each Cognac House while respecting the very strict specifications. The letters VSOP are an abbreviation of the English term Very Superior Old Pale at the time when the majority of the Cognac trade passed through Confirming Houses in London.
The complementary sub-appellation by cru of VSOP Cognacs
The denomination of cognac VSOP, can be completed by its origin, depending on the vintage from which it comes. As a reminder, the delimited cognac region is divided into 6 crus, of which, in decreasing order of taste and olfactory quality, for the same age of aging in oak barrels, the first is Grande Champagne because of its very calcareous soil, the second the Petite Champagne, the third the Borderies, the fourth the Fins Bois, the most important in surface area, the fifth the Bons Bois, the last the distant Bois.
VSOP Fine Champagne Cognacs
VSOP cognac can therefore include in addition to VSOP Grande Champagne such as Cognac Louis Dubosquet Grande Champagne exclusively, or VSOP Petite Champagne… or even VSOP Fine Champagne, provided, for the latter, that this cognac is the result of a blend of cognac Grande Champagne Premier Cru for at least fifty percent and Petite Champagne for the rest exclusively.