Still wines had being produced in the Cognac region as early as the 12th century. The rise of Cognac came courtesy of the Dutch in the 17th century who wanted brandewijn, or distilled wine, rather than normal wine for its sailors. The trade has flourished ever since, even though it came under severe pressure during the economic crises in the Far East in the late 1990s.
The delimited region of production is made of 6 growth areas (crus); Grande Champagne (the most prestigious Cognacs, full-bodied, powerful, pungent, persistent flavours), Petite Champagne (similar to the Grand Champagne, but less persistent on the palate), Borderies (elegant, floral style), Fins Bois (fruity and soft, but lacking ageing potential), Bons Bois, and Bois Ordinaires (both producing light, quick-ageing Cognacs-often excluded from blends). The term “champagne” derives from an ancient French word meaning chalky soil, which is the typical soil composition in the region. A cognac made from just Grande Champagne (at least 50%) and Petite Champagne is called “Fine Champagne Cognac”.
The age of the Cognac on the label reflects that of the youngest spirit used in the blend. The unofficial age grades that may be used on the label include: VS (at least two years in cask), VSOP or Réserve (at least four years), XO or Napoléon or Hors d’Age (at least six years).
Major grapes are Ugni blanc, Folle blanche, and Colombard (at least 90%), with minor grapes of Folignan, Jurançon blanc, Meslier St-François (also called Blanc Ramé), Sélect, Montils or Sémillon (at most 10%).
Bisquit V.S.O.P. Cognac
Armagnac claims a longer history than Cognac, probably produced by the Moors in the 12th century, and certainly from the 15th century onwards. Isolated from efficient transport links, it remained very much a locally consumed product until the middle of the 18th century. Production contrasts significantly with the much more industrial methods employed in Cognac.
Although it undergoes the same long aging in oak barrels, Armagnac is mainly distilled once and at a lower % of alcohol than Cognac, which results in more intense fruit character and rustic flavors. Armagnac is mainly aged in local oak casks which impart subtle color and complex flavor which is distinctively different from the more pronounced sweet vanilla character of the cognac casks.
Grapes use for Armagnac include Baco 22A, Colombard, Folle blanche, and Ugni blanc.
Chabot Napoleon S.R. Armagnac
Napoleon is a level with the same minimum aging regulation to X.O. (i.e. 6 yrs, but after 2016, it changes to 10 yrs). However, producers usually market Napoleon as an in-between X.O. and V.S.O.P.
Chabot X.O. Armagnac
Although the minimum aging for X.O. is 6 yrs, but most Armagnac/Cognac producers age longer.
Chabot 1998 Armagnac
Soil, soysauce, floral, honey, butter and caramel. Much stronger and denser than others.
*note*: This Armagnac does not keep in barrel till now. Actually, the vintage Armagnac are usually keep in barrel for only a few months (maybe 40 months something), not for many years. After aging, the Armagnac will be put in the glass jug, and store in the Armagnac Bureau. Every Armagnac producer has to apply, before checking out the Armagnac from the Bureau.