Acquit – acquit is the old acquital of 1872. It was printed originally on red paper. This certificate had to be present at any form of transportation of cognac as prove that taxes were payed.
This was being followed by the Acquit Blanc in 1903 on which the origin of the product was specified (and guaranteed). Eau-de-vie older than 1903 could also get an Acquit Blanc, but without the guarantee of origin; for these eaux-de-vie the text of the old red acquit was used, now printed on white paper. The list of eaux-de-vie with an Acquit Blanc without the guarantee of origin was called Compte de Liquidation, because it was doomed to extinction. Many merchants preferred eaux-de-vie of the Compte de Liquidation, because these cognacs had matured longer.
In 1929 the Acquit Blanc was being replaced by the Acquit Jaune d’Or.
Nowadays the acquit does not exist any more. It has been replaced by the ‘administratif d’accompagnement’ (the Community Accompanying Document).
Acquit Blanc – see acquit
Acquit Jaune d’Or – see acquit.
Aides – (before: Aydes) form of tax; the Court des Aides is the court in charge of calculating and imposing taxes; it is in existence since 1680.
Alcohol – Syn: ethanol of ethyl acohol
Alcohol, derived from the Arabic ´al-kuhul´ or ´al cohol´ or ´al kohl´; al = the, hoehl = spirit or the essence of things.
Al-Kohl is the word for a dark colored powder made of crushed antimony, used to darken the eyelids.
The Arabs had a good understanding of the art of distillation. For many centuries they studied how to extract flavours out of flowers and plants and they spread this knowledge to Italy, Spain and the Midi in France (P. Duplais).
The first alambics served to make eye-makeup. When the Arabs started to distil wine, they gave it the same name: al khôl or the essence of things.
Alambic Charentais – syn. alambic à repasse; see alambic.
Alambic – pot still; medieval Latin ´alambicum´ and ´ambicum´, resp. with and without article ´al´, form the Arabic ´al anbīq´, form the Greec ´ambix´ (2d nominative ambikos) [jar, pot].
According to Zosimos of Panopolis (4th century) the alembic was invented by Mary the Jewess, an alchemist of the second century. She is the oldest alchemist known in the western world. The bain-mary is named after her.
Zosimos was the first to describe a genuine distillation apparatus, an alambic. It is said that he had seen an alembic standing in an old Memphis temple, identical to the appliances that Arabic alchemists were using and that were being called ‘pelican’ by the medieval alchemists.
Aldehyde – one of the substances in cognac, a carbonyl group with an hydrogen-atom. Aldehyden often have a strong aroma (vanilla, butter). They are very volatile substances that exists in resin.
Angels share – see part des anges.
Angoumois – name of a former province. The presentday departments Charente and Charente-Maritime correspond approximately with the former provinces Aunis, Angoumois and Saintonge.
Année de la comète – Comet year; 1811. The comet was discovered by Honoré Flaugergues and is named after him. The year 1811 is famous for its exceptionally good wines and also as an exceptionally good year for cognacs.
L’année des dames – 1914; in this year many men were at war and almost only the women harvested and distilled. It is known as an exceptionally good year.
Aroma – pleasant fragrance that is released from the liquor.
Assemblage – syn: marriage. Coupe, blend. The blending of cognacs of different years and different area’s (Cru’s) to obtain the desired quality qua aroma and taste. The word assemblage is also used to denote the end product of the assemblage process.
Aunis – name of a former province. The presentday departments Charente and Charente-Maritime correspond approximately with the former provinces Aunis, Angoumois and Saintonge.
Balzac – grape variety used for cognac in the past.
Baril – barrel.
Barrique – hogshead; cask of 250-300 L.
in the cognac region it was in practice between 205 en 305 L (usually around 225 L).
Barrique Rousse – cask older thans even years.
Bassiot – condenser. Vessel with cold water to cool the liquid in the serpentin.
Bec – beak; part of the hood (chapiteau) of the still.
Blanc-Ramé – grape variety used for making cognac; synonym: Meslier St.-François. If planted before September 18 of 2005 they are allowed up until 2020.
BNIC – Bureau National Interprofessional du Cognac. Established in 1946. It is originated from the Bureau de Repartition des Vins et Eaux-de-Vie.
Bois à Terroir – One of the six crus that may bear the appellation de Cognac (sixth cru). Syn.: Bois Ordinaires.
Bois Communes – In the past Bois Ordinaires was distinguished from Bois Communes which was the seventh cru. Nowadays both cru´s are joined together, their name being Bois Ordinaires.
Bois Ordinaires – One of the six crus that may bear the appellation de Cognac (sixth cru). Syn.: Bois à Terroir.
1. woodchips drenched in cognac, used to speed up the aging process (it gives taste and color of wood to the cognac); may also be applied in the form of powder, shavings or infusion.
2. is used to describe cognac that tastes too much of wood.
Bonbonne – Syn: dame-jeanne; Demijohn. Big bottle, usually made of glass with a capacity of between 5 and 60 L. Often enclosed in wickerwork.
Bonne-chauffe – Syn.: deuxième chauffe; second distillation.
Bon Bois – One of the six crus that may bear the appellation de Cognac (fifth cru).
Borderies – One of the six crus that may bear the appellation de Cognac (third cru); relatively small area North of Cognac.
In the past Borderie in France meant ‘métairie’; a small undertaking with a tenant farmer; or a cluster of buildings and dwellings for tenant farmers.
(according to Parvulesco the name stems from the many woods and groves that protected the wines against the winds.)
Bouilleur de cru – home distiller; according to the French tax system it is an owner, farmer, tenant or winegrower who distils (or have distilled) his own wine, apples, pears, cherries, lees, plums and other plumlike fruits that are exclusively from his own harvest; or
Bouilleur de profession – professional distiller who distils for other people or who buys wine for distilling and sells the eau-de-vie to clients.
Bouquet – the whole of perfumes that is released from cognac.
Brandy – derived form the Dutch word ‘brandewijn’ meaning burnt (in the sense of distilled wine.
Brouillis – Middle part of the first distillation.
Bureau de Repartition des Vins et Eaux-de-Vie – Established on January 5, 1941 (arrest). Forerunner of the B.N.I.C.
Cagouillard – Snail; a name that is used for the inhabitants of the Charante region.
Cépage – grape variety.
Chai – Chai is the word used in the region for a ‘quai’. A quai is a quay; chai is often translated with the word cellar, but that is not correct. Chais are above-ground and they used to be along a river. A more suitable translation is therefore storage building
It is a storage building for cognac to age.
Champagne – Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne; area’s in the cognac region, thus named because they predominantly exist of fields as opposed to the Bois area’s (Fins Bois, Bons Bois, Bois Communes) that predominantly exist of woods; derived of the Roman word Campania (field).
Cognac form the Grande Champagne is also called premier cru. Petite Champagne is second cru.
Chapiteau – The hood of the cucurbite or chaudière. It can be in the shape of an olive, an onion or a Moors head.
Charente 1. River. 2. Departement, named after the River Charente.
From an etymological view there are two possible explanations for its origin:
1. derived from the Celtic word ‘carat’, meaning friend. The Charente is the old friend of the inhabitants of its shore’s.
2. derived from the pre Celtic root ´caranto´, meaning sand. The river Charente was a River with Sandy shore´s.
Charente-Inférieur – Former name for the departement Charente-Maritime.
Chaudière – pot-still. The apparatus used for distilling alcoholic dranks. Syn: Cucurbite.
Chauffe-de-vin – a synonym for premier chauffe (see premier chauffe).
Chauffe-vin – preheater, used in the distillation process.
Coeur – middle part of the distillation; after the ‘têtes’ and before the ‘secondes’. Normally it is only in use for the middle part of the ‘bonne chauffe’, but sometimes also used for the middle part of the ‘première chauffe’.
Cognac – 1. Eau-de-vie from Charente, named after the city of Cognac. 2. Name of a city in Charente, name-giver of the eau-de-vie.
The name is supposed to refer to the domain of the Connius family. The suffix –ac meaning ‘house of’.
Col de cygne – swan’s neck; bended tube made of copper that runs from the ´chapiteau´ to the condensor. In the condensor it becomes the serpentin.
Colombard – grape variety; not much used nowadays.
Comet year – See Année de la comète ; 1811.
Compte – indication for the age of cognac. Compte 1: one year of age, counted from the end of the distillation period (April 1 of the year following the year of harvesting); etc. Compte 0 is used to indicate eaux-de-vie during its first year in the cask, after April 1.
Compte 00 is used for eaux-de-vie from the moment it is produced until April First.
Compte 10 is the highest compte used. There is no official control on age after this period.
Compte de liquidation – a list that was temporarily in use around 1903; the eaux-de-vie on this list were in possession of an ‘acquit blanc 1872’ (also called ‘acquit de liquidation’), which meant that it had been checked by the government, but just the age and the nature of the product, not the exact origin of the product. Only after 1903 the government exercised this type of control. Before 1903 the acquit red was used, after 1903 the acquit blanc.
Condenseur – see refrigerant.
Congeners – Congenerics. Substances in the distillate (besides water and ethanol) that give it taste and flavour. These are, amongst others, esters, acids, aldehydes, furfural and higher alcohols.
1. cut-off point: the moment to stop catching ‘le coeur’ is when the alcohol percentage has reached a low enough level; this is called ‘le coupe’. The rest of the distillate is set apart. Sometimes this term is also used for the cut-off point of the têtes.
2. an assemblage or blend (see assemblage).
Croix-Marron, Jacques de la – Chevalier Jacques de la Croix-Marron was an actual knight, that lived around 1600 and was born in Segonzac. He also has written a book, La Muse catholique, that exists of two parts: Libre Arbitre and l’Eucharistie.
According to legend he is supposed to have invented the method of the double distillation.
During a nightmare he dreamt that Satan wanted to kill him by boiling his soul. When that did not succeed, he threatened the knight to cook him again. When De la Croix-Marron awoke he felt that this dream had a special meaning. So het tried to cook the wine twice in order to extract the soul of the wine (the essence).
Cru – translated it means literally growth (coming from the verb croître). Vertaald betekent cru groei of gewas (komt van croître). So premier cru means first or best quality growth.
Cru is often related to the soil, so cru indicates the soil in view of the quality of the growth.
In the cognac district cru is a legally defined part of the region. There are six of them and the classification of cru’s is devised by Henri Coquand who established that soil-quality was the most important determining factor for the quality for eaux-de-vie.
The cru’s in Cognac are in order of quality (and importance): grande champagne, petite champagne, borderies, fins bois, bons bois, bois ordinaires (also called bois à terroir).
Cucurbite – Syn: chaudière. Literally cucurbite means pumpkin. A vessel used for heating the wine (pot).
Cuve – vat (tank).
Cuvier – vat.
Dame-jeanne – Demijohn. Syn. bonbonne.
Distillation – distillation; derived from the Latin ‘de’ and ‘stillare’: trickle down.
Distillation Charentais – The distillation method used in Charente, meaning: double distillation in a cauldron made of copper and naked fire (a flame).
Droits d’Aides – see Aides.
Eau ardente – literally: burning water; old name for liquor.
Eau de vie – literally: water of life; term used for distilled liquors. Producers in Cognac name their cognacs often affectionally ‘eau de vie’.
It is also used for distilled wine that is too young te be called cognac.
Elevage – literally: breeding or upbringing. Used to indicate the aging process.
Empyreume – Delamain: an ugly and violent odour that comes from organic substances when being heated to fiercefully.
1. term to indicate the ensemble of grape varieties used in a blend.
2. term to indicate the ensemble of grape varieties in a winearea or in a vineyard.
Esprit de vin – spirit of wine; pure alcohol.
Ethylalcohol – Syn: ethanol; alcohol.
Faible – Syn.: ‘petite eau’ (see petite eau)
Fermentation – in this process the grapejuice is being converted in wine under the influence of enzymes (formation of alcohol).
1. stands for eau-de-vie fine; used for eau-de-vie of good quality and is entitled to an appellation d’origine
2. fine champagne means: cognac made of grande and petite champagne only with a minimum of 50% grande champagne. Also grande fine champagne.
3. used in combination with an appellation d’origine of one of the cru’s.
fine grande champagne: 100% cru grande champagne. So grande fine champagne is not the same as fine grande champagne.
fine petite champagne: 100% cru petite champagne
fine fins bois: 100% cru fins bois etc.
Fins Bois – fourth cru of Cognac.
Flegme – phlegme; a component that is often poisonous and that comes into existence at the beginning of distillation
Delamain: flegmes are vapours that escape the alambic first and one should continuously try to eliminate them because of their penetrating and unpleasant taste they give to the eau-de-vie. The word flegme is sometimes used for the tails of the second distillation.
Folignan – grape variety, used for making cognac. It is a crossing of Folle Blanche and Ugni Blanc.
Folle Blanche – grape variety, used for making cognac.
Foudre – big vessel with a contenance of 50-300 HL. The foudre is used for the process of blending.
Fourneau – furnace, usually made of brick.
Fût – 1. cask for wine about 350 L.
Futaille – cask (synonym for fût).
Gabare – (Gabarre); barge for the transportation of cognac on the Charente River.
Gabelle – Salt taxes, levied until 1790.
Grand Cru – indication for the quality of cognac; same meaning as premier cru or grande champagne.
Grande Champagne – Synonym: premier cru; area in the cognac district where the best quality cogac is being produced.
Greffer – graft. See root-stock.
Groie – Term for a certain soil-type that in Charente; chalky and full of stones. Very suitable for winegrowing. Often used as: ‘terre de groie’.
Gueux – beggar; a name used by the inhabitants of Charente for themselves. They like to say they are ‘gueux, glorieux et gourmand’. Also used by inhabitants of other regions, for example the Bourbonnais (Bourbonne is the old name for Allier).
Jurançon (Blanc) – Grape variety used for making cognac; not very much used. Syn. François Blanc. They are allowed until the harvest of 2020, when they are planted before September 18 of 2005.
Lie – lee; deposit of grapes that are fermented.
Lignine – organic substance in wood; during the aging of cognac, lignine is being transformed into vanilla and vanilla like substances.
Limousin – region East of the cognac area; important for wood that is used to make barrels.
Maison de Cognac – cognac firm.
Manches – batches; blends that are made beforehand and that are used as a basis for making the final blends.
Marriage – blending cognacs of different origin and different years.
Maitre de chai – chief of the storage. Person who supervises the making of the cognac. Often translated as cellar-master.
Methylalcohol – methyl alcohol. Is produced in the heads of distillation (têtes). Poisenous. Syn: methanol.
Mildiou – mildew; a disease of the grapes.
Meslier St.-François – synonym for Blanc-Ramé.
Montils (Blanc) – grape variety used for making cognac. Rarely used.
Muid – Type of cask. Used to be around 280 L. Nowadays between 500 and 650 L.
Napoléon – indication of the age of cognac (minimum of six years).
Ouillage – the refilling of the winecasks to compensate for the loss through evaporation.
Paradis –part of the chai (storage) where the oldest cognacs are being stored; they are often stored in Demijohns
Part des Anges – Angels’s share. The loss of the aging eau-de-vie through evaporation. Approximately 2-4% each year what amounts to 10 to 12 million bottles in the cognac area.
Petite Champage – second best growing area of cognac.
Petite-eau – eau-de-vie that is considerable less than 40%; some firms use it to lower the alcohol percentage instead of adding distilled water.
Phylloxera – a pest of commercial grapevines worldwide. It was responsible for the phylloxera crisis during the years 1872-1880, which destroyed most of the vineyards.
Full name: Phylloxera Vastatrix.
Pineau de Charentes – Fortified wine (it is usually called a fortified wine, altough strictly speaking is does not satisfie the requirements). Made by adding cognac to freshly pressed grapes: 3 parts of grapejuice and 1 part cognac.
Pipe – Syn. Refrigerant. A big container or vessel filled with cold water, through which runs the serpentin (coil).
A pipe de cognac is a wooden barrel of around 600 L.
Porte-greffe – Root-stock for the vine. Most often it is a hybrid of an American vine that is resistent for Phylloxera and an European form.
Premier chauffe – first distillation where the wine is distilled to become brouillis.
Preuve de la Hollande – A simple method to test the quality of alcohol: under or above a certain percentage. Used in the past.
Queues – tails of the distillation.
Rancio – aroma of butter and mushrooms, with notes of dried fruits and touches of raisins and nuts. Cognac develops a rancio flavour after aging 25 years or more.
Rechauffe-vin – syn. Chauffe-vin. (do not confuse with chauffe-de-vin).
Rectificer – rectify the alcohol; to separate the alcohol from other substances.
Réfrigerant – (syn.: pipe (de refroidissement), condenseur); a big container or vessel filled with cold water, through which runs the serpentin (coil). Cooling device to reduce the vapours to a liquid.
1. the process of double distillation. (alambic à repasse; à repasse: double distillation)
2. the product of the second distillation.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae – Yeast cells.
Saintonge – name of a former province. The presentday departments Charente and Charente-Maritime correspond approximately with the former provinces Aunis, Angoumois and Saintonge.
Sauvignon (Blanc) – grape variety used for making cognac in the past; nowadays this variety is not allowed.
Seconde –part of the second distillation (bonne chauffe), following the heart (le coeur). After the secondes follow the tails (queue)
Sélect Blanc – grape variety, crossing of Ugni Blanc and Jurançon Blanc. If planted before September 18 of 2005, they are allowed up until 2020.
Sémillon (Blanc) – grape variety for making cognac; seldom used.
Serpentin – Spiral tube in the réfrigerant. In here the alcoholic vapors are trandformed into a liquid.
St. Emilion – synonym of Ugni Blanc.
Sur lie – with lees.
Tannine – substance in pips and stalks of grapes and in wood. Important element for the flavour and aroma of cognac.
1. the soil wit its specific characteristics
2. area for agriculture with its specific characteristics
3. also used in a descriptive sense for a special taste: ‘goût de terroir’; a taste attributed to the special character of the soil (good taste), but sometimes attributed to the fertilizer that was used, which takes away the finesse of the eau-de-vie (bad taste).
Têtes – heads; first part of the distillation.
Tierçon – wooden barrel of 530-560 L.
Tonne – cask.
Tonneau – very big cask with a capacity of 10 to 1000 HL, mostly used for blending.
Nowadays it is more or less a synonym for ‘foudre’.
Tonellerie – Cooperage.
Topette – little scoop made of glass with a long handle to take samples out of the cask.
Torula Cognasiencis Richon – mold that grows on the storage buildings for cognac, giving it a black appearance; identified and named by dr. Richon in 1881.
Trebbiano – Italian name for the Ugni Blanc.
Tronçais – important region for logging. Many casks are made of Tronçais wood.
Ugni Blanc – most common grape variety for making cognac; well-known synonyms: St. Emilion; Trebbiano.
Vendange – harvest.
Vigne – 1. vine. 2. vineyard
Vigneron – wine-grower.
Vignoble – 1. vineyard. 2. wine-district
Vin – wine
Vinification – the making of wine
Viticulteur – wine-grower
VS – Very Special; indication of the age; a VS cognac has a minimum of two years of aging.
VSOP – Very Superior Old Pale; indication of the age; a VSOP cognac has a minimum of four years of aging (compte 4).
XO – eXtra Old; indication of the age; a XO cognac has a minimum of six years of aging (compte 6.) As of 2016 this will change to a minimum of ten years for a XO (compte 10).