Quality of cognac, introduction
The quality of cognac, and with it the eventual flavour of cognac, is being determined by a lot of different factors. Two of them are extremely important but can not be altered in any way. They are fixed because of the geographical region where cognac is made. These are: climate and soil. There is a tight correlation with these two and the appellation cognac controlé. The appellation controlé ‘cognac’ may only be used for eau-de-vie from a precisely defined area. This area comprises roughly the two departments Charente and Charente Maritime and it is just this area that is so well suited for making cognac because of the composition of its soil in combination with the climate. Within these departments you can still find big differences in the composition of the soil and these differences form the basic and the reason for the subdivision in crus. The crus are one of the determining factors re the quality and flavours of cognac. And this is the reason every Cru, with the exception of the sixth cru (Bois Ordinaires), has its own appellation controlé.
Other factors are less fixed and therefore can be changed more easily. You will find more information on these different factors in the other quality chapters. They are, amongst others (some are only in the Dutch part of the site – but they will follow): the grape varieties or cépages, working the vineyards, vinification, distillation, which wood to use for the casks, where to store the brandy, the aging process and of course the ‘marriage’, the blending process in which the eventual cognac is assembled form different years and different crus.