Cognac $30 - $40
For over three hundred years, Cognac has enjoyed its reputation as the king of brandies. Indeed, it is widely regarded as the finest drink to be distilled from grapes to be found anywhere in the world, and it is a testament to its producers and the master craftsmen who make it that this reputation has never faltered, and remains as strong as ever to this day.
Cognac is produced solely in the beautiful towns of Cognac and Jarnac, found about fifty miles north of Bordeaux, on the west coast of France. Here, around six thousand grape growers work exclusively in the production of white wine, used for the Cognac distilleries which are scattered throughout the region. The wines are made primarily from the Ugni Blanc or Trebbiano grape - one of the most commonly planted grape varietals in the world - which benefit from the cool, coastal climate and mineral rich soils which are found there. The wines themselves wouldn’t be suitable for drinking in themselves, as they are high in acid and low in alcohol, but this makes them ideal for distillation, and they can impart their wonderful, complex, rich flavors to the brandy.
Cognac varies quite significantly from bottle to bottle, depending on how long it has been aged for, and which appellation it comes from. The Cognac region is split into six separate Crus, all with their own distinctive characteristics, and the spirit can be aged from two years (VS) to six (Hors d’Age and Napoleon) and longer.