History of a legendary spirit
Coming from the best vineyards and transported on ships to Northern European countries, the wines of the Poitou, La Rochelle and Angoumois have been greatly appreciated by the English, the Dutch, and the Scandinavians since the 13th Century. Starting in the 17th Century, they are transformed into eau-de-vie and improved by ageing in oak casks. Cognac is born. And this is how the adventure of a city that was to become the capital of a world class business began.
More than a century was needed for Cognac professionals to define a framework that preserves the authenticity and uniqueness of Cognac, from vineyard to market.
The Cognac growing area
The Cognac Delimited Region is located at the north of the Aquitaine basin, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. To the West, it borders the Gironde estuary and the islands of Ré and Oléron and to the Eastit neighbours the region of Angoulême and the Massif Central foothills. The landscape is formed by plains and small hills with smooth reliefs. The Charente river crosses the region, nourished by other streams: the Né, the Antenne, the Seugne rivers…
The production area covers the Charente-Maritime and most of the Charente departments, and several districts of the Dordogne and Deux-Sèvres. It has a homogenous and mild seaside climate. Annual average temperature in the area is of about 13oC (55 oF), and winters are normally mild. The Delimited Region has a total area of over one million hectares, but the actual vineyards only occupy 75 300 ha. Approximately 95% of them are used for Cognac production. The Cognac production area has been delimited by the Decree of 1st May, 1909
Specifications for the Cognac Appellation
The Cognac AOC (meaning “Controlled Appellation of Origin”) is strictly regulated to follow longstanding local use. The product specifications of the AOC Cognac are laid down in the «Cahier des charges» Cognac approved by the French decree of 16 June 2011.
At European level, Geographical Indication Cognac was recognized by Council regulation (EC) n°110/2008 of 15 January 2008 on the definition, description, presentation, labelling and the protection of geographical indications of spirit drinks and repealing Council regulation (EEC) n°1576/89.
According to Article 15 of this regulation, a geographical indication «shall be an indication which identifies a spirit drink as originating in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of that spirit drink is essentially attributable to its geographical origin».
To benefit from the Geographical Indication Cognac, wine spirit has to be from the delimited area defined by Decree of the 1st
May 1909 and respect the whole product specifications written in the «Cahier des charges» Cognac.
The 6 crus of the Cognac Appellation
The Cognac production area was delimited by the decree of May 1st,1909. Based on the soil features described by the geologist Henri Coquand in 1860, 6 Cognac growing areas (Crus) were delimited and then ratified by decree in 1938: Champagnes (Grande and Petite Champagne), Borderies, and Bois (Fins Bois, Bons Bois, and Bois à Terroirs). The crus received their names when the local forests were cleared at the beginning of the 19th century. The central Cognac crus, Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne and the Borderies are the most densely planted with vines.
Growing Areas (the crus)
The Delimited Region is made up of six growing areas known as crus that reference the various appellations.