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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Cognac Museum - Where you can discover one of the most wonderful brandy in the world


What is the Cognac?

The Cognac is one of the most famous symbols of France.

The Cognac is also a picturesque town situated in France in the region of the Charentes Maritime, not far from Tours and Bordeaux.

The Cognac is a particular and unique variety of Brandy tipically French, famous and admired all over the world.




What is this post about?

In this post we are visiting one of the most amazing museum in France, dedicated to the wonderful Cognac, dedicated to this particular variety of brandy.

How is called the museum of Cognac and where is it?

This amazing museum is called Musée des arts du Cognac, litteraly Museum of the arts of Cognac and it is situated in the town centre of the city of Cognac, less than an hour away from Saintes.




What is the Museum of Cognac about?

The Museum of Cognac is a unique exhibition where you can understand the methods used to distil the cognac, the history of the Cognac and of its production, how the Cognac production become larger and larger and how Cognac become famous and appreciated all over the world.

What I can see in the museum?

In the museum you can see:
- a large collection of the instruments used to produce Cognac
- videos and other explanations about the methods of production of the Cognac
- an interesting exibition about the history of the Cognac and how Cognac become famous all over the world
- a wonderful collection of bottles of Cognac including rare bottles especially designed for the best cognac in the world.






What is the Cognac? (from www.wikipedia.com)

Cognac is a variety of brandy.

It is produced in the wine-growing region surrounding the town from which it takes its name, in the French Departements of Charente and Charente-Maritime.

For a distilled brandy to bear the name Cognac, its production methods must meet certain legal requirements.

In particular, it must be made from specified grapes, of which Ugni blanc, known locally as Saint-Emilion, is the one most widely used.

The brandy must be twice distilled in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in French oak barrels from Limousin or Tronçais. Cognac matures in the same way as whiskies and wine when aged in barrels, and most cognacs are aged considerably longer than the minimum legal requirement.

The white wine used in making cognac is very dry, acidic and thin. Though it has been characterized as "virtually undrinkable", it is excellent for distillation and aging. 

After the grapes are pressed, the juice is left to ferment for two or three weeks, with the region's native, wild yeasts converting the sugar into alcohol; neither sugar nor sulfur may be added.

At this point, the resulting wine is about 7 to 8% alcohol.

Distillation takes place in traditionally shaped Charentais copper stills, also known as an alembic, the design and dimensions of which are also legally controlled. Two distillations must be carried out; the resulting eau-de-vie is a colourless spirit of about 70% alcohol.

According to the interprofessional French institution BNIC (Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac), the official quality grades of cognac are the following:

    V.S. ("very special or superior"), Very Special, or three stars designates a blend in which the youngest brandy has been stored for at least two years in cask.
    V.S.O.P. ("very special or superior old pale") designates a blend in which the youngest brandy is stored for at least four years in a cask, but the average wood age is much greater.
    XO ("extra old") designates a blend in which the youngest brandy is stored for at least six years but on average for upwards of 20 years. In 2016, the minimum storage age of the youngest brandy used in an XO blend will be set to ten years.

The names of the grades are in English because the historical cognac trade, particularly in the 18th century, significantly involved the British.


What else can I do when in Cognac?

You should absolutely visit one of the many distilleries in town: the most famous in the world are here, including Courvoisier (owned by Beam Inc.), Hennessy (owned by LVMH), Martell (owned by Pernod Ricard), and Rémy Martin (owned by Rémy Cointreau).

What else can I do when in the area of Cognac apart for visiting distilleries?

You can visiting the fascinating Roman Town of Saintes, with its beautiful town and amphitheater, situated around an hour away from Cognac.

Where I can read more about eno-gastronomic products typically French?








A huge thanks goes to Aurelie Simonnet, super expert and super passionate about the wonderful Cognac!




What else should I visit in France?




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