DEFINITION--Brandy is a potable spirit obtained from the distillation of wine or fermented mash of fruit which has suitably aged in wood.
The brandies distilled from other fruits is called as ‘Fruit Brandies’
INTRODUCTION--It is normally consumed as an after-dinner drink--Brandy made from wine is generally coloured in dark oak casks--Pomace and fruit brandies are generally drunk un-aged--Most brandy is 80 proof (40% alcohol)
Brandy derives it's name from the Dutch word ‘brandewijn’ meaning "burned wine" and is a liquor distilled from wine or other fermented fruit juices.
HISTORY --Long before the 16th century, wine was a popular product for trading in European region--Dutchman trader invented a way to ship more wine in the limited cargo space by removing water from the wine--Then he could add the water back to the concentrated wine at the destination port in Holland---They called it "bradwijn," meaning "burned wine," and later became "brandy."
COGNAC ---As the saying goes, all Cognac is Brandy, but all Brandy is not Cognac---It is also called as delightful soul of wine and “eau de vie” meaning water of life and aged for at least two years---Cognac can only originate from the town of Cognac, France, and its six surrounding viticulture areas--The process of creating Cognac is extremely controlled, and it adheres to strict rules and regulations
COGNAC PRODUCING REGIONS--The cognac region has chalky soil, stony red-soiled plains and green valleys--This zone is itself divided into different vintage regions which have each their own characteristics and are governed by AO—a, The Grande Champagne b,The Petite Champagne c,The Borderies e,The Fins Bois or Fine Woods f,The Bons Bois and Bois Ordinaires
APPELLATION D’ORIGINE CONTRÔLÉE -- (AOC), means "controlled designation of origin”---It is the French certification granted to certain French geographical indications for wines, cheeses, butters, and other agricultural products---All under the auspices of the government bureau - Institut National des Appellations d'Origine(INAO)---AOC products can be identified by a seal, which is printed on the label in wines, cognacs etc
MANUFACTURING ---It may be made only from a strict list of-- grape varieties, if it is to carry the name of one of the crus then it must be at least 90% Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche and Colombard although 10% of the grapes used can be Folignan, Jurançon blanc
The harvest takes place in early October, by this time, the grapes have ripened
After harvesting & screening the grapes are pressed in the traditional horizontal plate presses or pneumatic presses---Fermentation is natural, by the yeast present on grapes during bloom (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) takes two to three weeks---Yeasts are allowed to convert the sugar into alcohol---Because the wine is low in alcohol, about 7-8% ; about 10 gallons of wine is needed to produce one gallon of Cognac---Distilled by traditional pot still method that are traditionally shaped---The first heating is called premiere chauffe---The first distillate is called as the ‘brouillis,’ which contains an alcohol level of 28% to 32% volume---The ‘brouillis’ is returned back to the boiler for a second heating known as the ‘la bonne chauffe.’
It is during this second heating that the eau-de-vie, or the spirit, is finally extracted from the liquid---Here, the distiller performs a delicate process called ‘cutting’ by separating the ‘heart’ from the ‘heads’ and the ‘tails.’
The vapors that arrive first (the heads) have too high alcoholic content, and so they are cut off and separated from the rest of the liquid--The next batch of liquid is the ‘heart,’ or a colorless delicate, pure liquid with a 70% alcohol per volume---The end vapour are called tails ---The distilled wine must be aged before becoming Cognac, for at least two years
This ageing takes place in 270 to 450 liter oak casks (barrels)---The natural level of humidity in the cellars is one of the main influencing factors on the ageing of the spirits due to its effect on evaporation---As the cognac interacts with the oak barrel and the air, it evaporates at the rate of about three percent each year, slowly losing both alcohol and water---Because the alcohol evaporates faster than the water, cognac reaches the target 40% alcohol by volume in about four or five decades
Lesser grades can be produced much sooner by diluting the cognac with water---In order to develop all its qualities and also to reduce its alcohol content, Cognac must mature for many years in oaks casks---During this ageing, Cognac loses between 3 and 4 % of its volume every year (Angels Share)---Since oak barrels stop contributing to flavor after four or five decades, cognac is then transferred to large glass carboys called bonbonnes, then stored for future blending---The age of the cognac is calculated as that of the youngest eau-de-vie used in the blend
The blend is usually of different ages and (in the case of the larger and more commercial producers) from different local areas---This blending, or marriage, of different eaux-de-vie is important to obtain a complexity of flavors absent from an eau-de-vie from a single distillery or vineyard---Each cognac house has a master taster (maître de chai), who is responsible for creating this delicate blend of spirits, so that the cognac produced by a company today will taste almost exactly the same as a cognac produced by that same company 50 years ago, or in 50 years time
GRADING OF COGNAC--A.C- two years old, aged in wood
V.S.- "Very Special", three years in wood. It is often called "Three Star"
V.S.O.P.-"Very Superior Old Pale" minimum aging is five years in wood. It is often called, "Five Star”
X.O.-"Extra Old" minimum aging of six years. X.Os include Napoleon and Vieille Reserve.
Napoleon- at least 4 years old, mostly much older than 4 years
Vintage- It must be stored in the cask until the time it's bottled with the label showing the vintage date on
Hors D’age- It means too old to determine the age
SERVICE OF COGNAC ---Preferably Cognac should be served at room temperature around 70F in a fine snifter---Brandy snifter allows to hold the stem without warming the glass and evaporating the brandy ---Brandies are enjoyed after dinner with desserts such as chocolate or apple desserts
COGNAC BRANDS ---a,Courvoisier b,Gabriel & Andreu c,Hennessy e,Hine Vintage Cognacs f,Martell g,Rémy Martin g,Napoleon
Ø Armagnac is a grape brandy from the Gascony region of Southwestern France
Ø Armagnac is very different with regards to its grapes, terroir, distillation, élevage, blending, aromas, tastes and textures
ARMAGNAC--Armagnac is distilled from wine using Grapes such as Folle Blanche, Ugni Blanc, Colombard and Baco 22A--These grapes ultimately give different aromas and flavors, they offer different weights and textures on the palate
HISTORY---Armagnac is the oldest brandy distilled in France, and in the past was consumed for its therapeutic benefits---In the 14th century, Prior Vital Du Four, a Cardinal, claimed it had 40 virtues---The Armagnac region lies between the Adour and Garonne rivers in the foothills of the Pyrenees---The region was granted AOC status in 1936---The May 25, 1909 Falliere’s decree describes the three districts:--a,-Bas-Armagnac b,Armagnac-Ténarèze c,Haut-Armagnac --Each of these areas is controlled by separate appellation regulations
MANUFACTURING--Armagnac is traditionally distilled once, which results initially in a less polished spirit than Cognac---However, long aging in oak barrels (black oak of Gascony) softens the taste and causes the development of more complex flavors and a brown color--Aging in the barrel removes a part of the alcohol and water by evaporation (known as part des anges—"angels' tribute" or "angels' share") and allows more complex aromatic compounds to appear by oxidation, which further improves the flavor, usually done for three years---When the alcohol reaches 40%, the Armagnac can be transferred to large glass bottles (called "Dame Jeanne") for storage---From then on, the Armagnac does not age or develop further and can be bottled for sale from the next year on
GRADING / CLASSIFICATION---Armagnac is sold under several different classifications, mostly referring to the age of the constituent brandies---When brandies of different ages have been blended, the age on the bottle refers to the youngest component ---.a,A three star, or "VS," Armagnac is a mix of several Armagnacs that have seen at least two years of aging in wood,----- b ,A three star, or "VS," Armagnac is a mix of several Armagnacs that have seen at least two years of aging in wood---c,For the VSOP, the aging is at least five years---d,For XO, at least six. -----e,Hors d'âge means the youngest component in the blend is at least ten years old---f,Older and better
Armagnacs are often sold as vintages, with the bottles containing Armagnac from a single year, the year being noted on the bottle
BRAND NAMES----a,Janneau---b,Marquis de Montesquieu c,Sempe –d,Malliac e,Clavers
Ø Armagnac is made of grape varieties ex-Ugni Blanc and Folle Blanche
Ø Uses continuous distillation and the brandy has an alcoholic content of 54 to 60 % ABV
Ø More fragrant called ‘the dancing fire’.
Ø Armagnac is Aged in a French oak cask known as an une pièce
Ø Armagnac is often aged over 10 years (more than cognac)
Ø Less fragrant
Ø Cognac is made largely from the Ugni Blanc grapes
Ø Cognac is made using double distillation in a pot still
Ø Cognac is aged mainly in French oak casks from Limousin
Ø Goal is to standardize releases
GRAPPA ---Grappa is a fragrant grape-based Pomace brandy of between 35% and 60% alcohol by volume), of Italian origin---Literally "grape stalk", most grappa is made by distilling Pomace, grape residue (mainly the skins, but also stems and seeds) left over from wine making after pressing---It was originally made to prevent waste by using leftovers at the end of the wine season---In Italy, grappa is primarily served as a "digestivo" or after-dinner drinks---Grappa may also be added to espresso coffee to create a caffè corretto meaning corrected coffee.