Chapter 5.General View on Cognac

Cognacs and Armagnacs

In the southwest of France in the heart of the Charente region lies the small medieval town of Cognac. Graycliff, anxious to preserve its distinctive identity, has carefully chosen its cognacs from this region to compliment the “haute cuisine” for which it stands. It is almost unthinkable for the serious diner not to savor a fine cognac after an extraordinary dining experience.

The quality of cognac is directly related to its age; true cognac drinkers can tell a lot about a particular blend by the label on the bottle. When ordering a fine cognac at Graycliff, remember the following:
A label with the letters V.S. (historically three stars) means the average aging period is three to five years.
The designations V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale) or Reserve means the average age of cognac used in the blend is from five to twelve years.
The words Fine Champagne on the bottle mean the grapes used to produce the cognac come entirely from the Cognac region’s top vineyards and, thus, are of the finest quality.
Unlike wines that age in the bottle, cognac ages only in oak. Therefore, a cognac that has aged ten years in oak is a ten-year-old cognac, even if it has been accumulating 150 years in a cellar.

No less impressive are Graycliff’s Armagnacs and the rare vintages obtained through the years. In 1872, there were approximately 426 bottles of Armagnac which were first started by Janneau. Unlike fine Cognac the distillation, aging process, type of grapes and the wood used for aging differ from Cognac. Aged Armagnacs are more fiery to the palate while the younger ones taste more gentle and refined. Youth does have its rewards with Armagnacs. Individuals celebrating a birthday may have the Armagnac produced in the vintage of that year.

Should you be fortunate enough to tour the world famous Graycliff wine cellars, you will be amazed to find the jewels which are stored. Some of the rarities include a 1788 Clos de Giffier Cognac, 1872 Armagnac Janneau, 1878 Armagnac Fauchon or Chateau Lafite Rothschild Armagnacs or Cognacs and 1811 Grande Fine Champagne. Graycliff has approximately 45 different vintages of Armagnacs and some rarities that cannot be found in rare auctions.


Hine Cognac was founded in 1782 and was the chief supplier to the English Royal Family. To this day it is one of the most venerable names in Cognac. Hine is fabricated only from Champagnes and Premiers Fins Bois; it is elegant and light and is aged only in limousine oaks. At Graycliff you can select from Antique Tres Vieille Reserve, Triomphe, or Napoleon.


Hennessy is now the largest firm in Cognac. They were the ones who invented the Award of Stars in 1765 to indicate the age of Cognacs and were also the originators of XO. Their stock of well over 87 million bottles is, indeed, most impressive. Hennessy is a little more fruity, full and round. At Graycliff you have access to Paradis, which is between 15 to 100 years, XO is 10 to 70 years, Napoleon Decanter is 15 to 30 years and Napoleon 8 to 30 years. VSOP and VS are also on the list.


Robert Delamain wrote what is perhaps the best book on Cognac to date. Founded in 1625, his family line produced a cognac with intensity and elegance of the finest clarets, tailored to the historic taste of the aristocratic British connoisseurs. None of its brandies have ever seen any new oak. Graycliff has Reserve De Familie Rate Unblended (55 years), 50 year Tres Venerable Fine Champagne, Grande Champagne Vesper (35 years), and Pale and Dry (25 years) .


The oldest of Cognac’s Major firms was founded in 1715. Anxious to preserve their identity and to associate the Cognac Martell VSOP image with a striking

symbol, the company christened it some time later VSOP Medallion, The Medallion, in effigy of Louis XIV, commemorates the year 1715, which marks the foundation of the Martell Company and the death of Louis XIV, the Sun King, whose influence shone the world over.

Martell’s aim is to gain power and prestige, and the Medallion represents their uncompromising attitude in the quality of their Eau-de-Vie, for which they are internationally recognized. Patience and know-how have been the secret of VSOP Medallion’s success. Only around-the-clock supervision can give such perfect distillation, and only a sufficiently long, careful period of maturation allows the Eau-de-Vie to develop all its special characteristics. There is indeed scrupulous application to VSOP Medallion. Graycliff maintains VVESOP Fine Liqueur Brandy, over fifty years in cast, Extra over 50 years, Cordon Argent, Cordon Bleu, Cordon Noir, VSOP, and VS are available.

Remy Martin

Founded in 1724, this is perhaps the most remarkable story in modern Cognac. Remy Martin totally relies on Cognacs from the Champagnes, which are sold relatively young. Maturation has to be accelerated as much as possible. The wines are distilled on their lees to increase fruitiness-and then stored in relatively porous limousine oak. The result is undeniably smooth and very attractive, with some depth and fruit but without the subtleties found in other fine Cognacs. Graycliff houses Louis XIII-over 50 years, Centaure Extra-30 years, Centaure XO-22 to 25 years, Centaure Napoleon-15 to 17 years, VSOP and VS.


Courvoisier is the Cinderella (the odd one out) among the big four Cognac distillers. This is largely due to the fact that Courvoisier has never been a truly native firm, or owned a vineyard and has never participated in the political or social life of the region. Perhaps this enables them to spend more time on their product-which they unmistakably do. Courvoisier is richer, smoother, more caramelly than any other. The blends are interesting to the palate, especially the XO. Graycliff has Paradis-60 years, XO-30 to 60 years, Extra Vieille-30 to 50 years, Napoleon, up to 30 years, VSOP and VS.


Camus Cellar

Camus, founded in 1863, is Cognac’s fifth largest firm and the largest still in the hands of an individual family. Camus was the exclusive supplier to the Czar of Russia and the first to introduce a great Cognac in the duty free shops. Graycliff has XO and Napoleon.


Graycliff ( Enrico & Paolo Garzarolli )

I wish to thank both Mr Enrico and Paolo for the great opportunity of spending some very precious time at Graycliff Estate ( Nassau , The Bahamas ) – A TRUE Hospitality Establishment!


Ararat is an Armenian brandy that has been produced by the Yerevan Brandy Company since 1887. It is made from Armenian white grapes and spring water, according to a traditional method.

“Ordinary Brandies” are aged for 3, 4, 5, or 6 years, the soft flavor of the Brandy being based on selected brands of wines and pure spring water, which help to create a unique taste for each type of Ararat Brandy. The “Aged Brandies” of 10, 15, 18, and 20 years each have their own unique taste and specific dark golden color.

The distinctive aroma and rich bouquet of these Brandies allowed the Yerevan Brandy Company to enjoy considerable success in international exhibitions and tastings.[citation needed] Ararat Brandy is not only popular in Armenia, but in many of the former states of the Soviet Union, chief among them Russia (where it’s known under the name Armjanskij Konjak), Georgia, Ukraine and Belarus. In the Russian-speaking countries of the former Soviet Union the Armenian Brandy is marketed as cognac. This is because in 1900, the brandy won the Grand-prix award in Paris and the company so impressed the French that they have been allowed to legally call the product “cognac”. The term “brandy” has never really caught on and the full name of such beverages is “cognac-style wine” .

During the Yalta Conference, Winston Churchill was so impressed with the Armenian brandy Dvin given to him by Joseph Stalin that he asked for several cases of it to be sent to him each year. Reportedly 400 bottles of Dvin were shipped to Churchill annually. This brandy was named in honour of the ancient capital Dvin, and was first produced in 1943.



Published on October 6, 2008 at 08:49  Comments (30)  

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30 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. some cognac are not accessible in liqour stores, where can i find them?

    • Hello there ! Well , it depends….in Europe , for instance , We can find them .If You’re from U.S. it might be possible that availability is subject to State Law .Even so , One could order it from other places ( such as Europe ) or by buying those items from duty free areas.
      Please receive my best regards !

    • love it

  2. i love cognac

  3. IATA training courses of Akbar academy provides aspirants a good chance to build great career in the field of hospitality.

  4. salutări…
    cum e cu brandyul “ararat”?

    • Salut ,
      Din cate stiu , pe la 1900 francezii au incuviintat ca aceasta licoare sa poate fi cunoscuta si sub apelativul “cognac” date fiind calitatile deosebite ale acestui brandy armenesc…

  5. aha… deci e un produs de referinţă ca să zic aşa! nu încape şi el prin lista minunată de mai sus? dar de pe meleagurile noastre ce recomandări ai…!? eu am nimerit o dată un jidvei “livrat” de la băieţii care lucrau pe la cramele lor direct din butoi… impecabil şi memorabil (asta pentru mine păgânul cu experienţă zero…)

    • Da, e de referinta desi adevaratele Ararate le gasesti foarte greu….trebuie sa ajungi acolo , in Armenia si sa cunosti pe cineva de la podgorie…similar ca-n multe alte locuri…si-n Rep.Moldova ( unde-am lucrat vreo 11 luni ) am dat pste niste vinuri si brandy-uri destul de ok si despre care marea masa de consumatori nici macar n-a auzit macar in treacat…he he he

  6. aha. păi să sperăm că o dată în viaţă ‘om da şi de un ararat natur. cât despre moldovenii noştri de peste prut ştiu că au minunăţii. timp de 4 ani la facultate mă delectau prietenii studenţi moldovani de acolo cu kagor, perţovkă şi mai puţin seriosul kvint. nu ştiu cât de caramel cu alcool era dar în facultate mergea de minune ;)…totuşi de pe la noi ce recomandări ar fi?

    • Salut ,

      Pai ar fi cateva de la noi: Cramele Rotenberg ( Menestrel si Rapsod ) , Vinarte ( Castel Bolovanu , Prince Matei ) , Arezan , Cramele Oprisor si ne putem opri aici …restul e-n mare parte caramel , alcool , sulfiti , etc , etc…….pana la urma si la noi , ca-n multe alte parti ale lumii , se va produce inevitabil o “filtrare” a vinurilor , dar mai e de asteptat

  7. salutăm. cu vinurile româneşti sincer prefer să mă delectez cu ce scoate bunicu din agăţata lui din curte. nu costă mai nimic şi e de la mama lui natură. păstrând proporţiile binenţeles ale comparaţiei. mă refream la recomandările pentru coniace vinars etc… avem ceva demn? eu ca neofitul am băut acum ceva ani buni o sticlă de mioriţa xo. la vremea aia gusturile mele erau la fel de plate şi nerafinate ca şi acum dar perfect inconştiente. pur şi simplu nu îmi păsa. numa’ de bine să auzim/citim.

    • Oricat de ciudat ( si neonorant )ar parea pur si simplu n-am pus mana pe nici o sticla de brandy romanesc …nu am inca acel feeling ca ar merita sa-ncerc….la fel am facut si cu vinurile – asta si pentru ca am fost plecat destul de mult – …prin urmare , cred ca voi mai astepta nitzel

    • Tocmai am vazut la Carrefour “Orhideea” la stand-ul de prezentare a vinurilor din Republica Moldova , vreo 10 – cred – sticle de vechimi diferite…sunt sigur ca-n viitorul apropiat voi incerca si faimosul Cognac Ararat
      “Never be late for dinner , smoke Hawaiian cigars and drink Armenian cognac…” – Sir Winston Churchill.

  8. păi spor şi baftă… aştept impresiile. eu mă răsfăţ deocamdată cu un trascău din afine scăldate în tescovină. dumnezeiesc. arome curate. gust îmbucurător de natural. şi ce picioare lasă pe păhăruţ… desenate echidistant. o nebunie. aş schimba cel mai scump brandy şi un trabuc de cea mai înaltă calitate pe un ţoi cu aşa ceva. hai trabucul să rămână de acompaniament. o duminică relaxată şi caldă îţi urez.

  9. The words Fine Champagne has a different meaning , is about certain area in Cognac region , as well the words Grand Champagne and Petit Champagne . Actually Fine Champagne is a blend between the two of them with at least of 50 % from Grand Champagne . It is called Grand or Petit Champagne because of the soil similar with the one from Champagne region

    • Well noted.


    • hello there ,
      Perhaps I got a bit overwhelmed ..did I write anywhere in My blog that cognac is made out of grains? I really hope not…I’ll review once again the chapter , just i case…obviously it is made out of grapes …

      Best Regards ,


  11. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the images on this blog loading?

    I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated.

    • Dear Sir ,as far as I know there are no problems ( I’m checking My blog from various computers/terminals and irrespective of the size and softwarebthey use , I can browse through My blog with ease…maybe You’ll have to check on Your computer the settings in regards cookies and such.
      Please receive My Best Regards ,
      Adrian Laurentiu Fulga

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