One place I’ve really wanted to visit, but never got the opportunity to, is the Cognac Region, in France.
Most Cognac houses have a special cellar where they keep their oldest and best vintages. If you’re lucky enough to visit one of these spaces, don’t expect much polish. They tend to packed with ancient barrels, caked with decades of dust.
Well then, if I cannot go to Cognac, then Cognac can come to me.
Just last week, Remy Martin’s Heart of Cognac Experience, recreated for us mere mortals, the journey into the bowels of the Cognac cellar. Cognac is, technically speaking, a type of brandy. That means it’s made by distilling wine, and then aging the resulting spirit (the French call it the Water of Life, or eau de vie) in wood barrels. The main difference between Cognac and your basic brandy, is that, just like Champagne, the Cognac label can only be applied to the spirit if it was produced in a specific geographic region—the fittingly titled Cognac region of western France, a couple hundred miles southwest of Paris, and just a bit north of Bordeaux.
The Cognac region itself is divided into numerous smaller regions, which have different soil characteristics capable of producing subtle differences in the eau de vies. And that’s how you come up with your different blends. The most sought after tend to be grown in the Grand Champagne, Petit Champagne, and Borderies regions. And that’s where Remy Martin comes from, of course, the Grand Champagne, Petit Champagne region.
While some companies have their own unique ways of categorizing their Cognacs, here are the four most common categories, ranked by age, price and quality – VS, VSOP, XO, Extra. With VS, nobody will give a hoot if you drink it with ice or water. But by the time you get to XO and Extra well, drinking it anything other than neat (with possibly a drop of water, Scotch-style) would be a travesty and seriously frowned upon by Cognac connoisseurs!
Then it was time to make our own Cognac Blend. Tasting a Cognac begins with choosing a glass, that looks like a tulip – the tulip glass. Its shape is supposed to retain the aromas and facilitate the tasting of the cognac. And Cognac is usually tasted at room temperature.
Visual examination – This is the first contact with the Cognac.Raise the glass to eye level, if possible against a white background, to examine its color and appearance.
On the nose – Smelling the Cognac is the most important stage of the tasting. It is a twostep process. First nose : Without moving the glass, you can discern the highly volatile elements. This is called the montant”. Second nose : Swirl the glass very gently to aerate the Cognac. The contact with oxygen reveals its aromatic components. Here you will encounter floral or fruity aromas e.g. dry vines, violets, vanilla
On the palate – Take a sip and suck in a little air over the Cognac in your mouth. This is the moment when all the aspects of the spirit’s personality become apparent: Round, Mellow and Smooth..
Lab rats? or Cellar Masters in the making? 😛
The creation of cognac is the work of the Cellar Master. By subtly blending eau de vie like an alchemist, he creates the Fine Champagne cognacs..
Fatboybakes shows us how it’s done.. I’m surprised he didn’t flunk Chemistry.
The right way to measure your eau de vies!
Art exhibition at the White Box Publika
Remy Cocktails – these weren’t made with the XO, don’t worry!
“Humans and Horses, go together like Remy and Art, apparently”, said Fatboybakes.
Some Centaur Art exhibition and we were supposed to pick our favourite one and vote for it. Not sure what that exercise was about.
Posing with the great XO, and the great O (FBB) *hehe*
What an enlightening night. I will never look at Cognac the same again, and I will definitely never add water to my XO. Amen.Follow me on Instagram : @agentcikay
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