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[:RU]How to make the best brandies in the world[:]

[:RU]Did you know that the cognac — it’s the village?
It is true that a very rich and well-known all over the world.
And all thanks to the favorite drink gourmet and aesthetes, named in her honor and is a symbol of elegance, taste and success.
Cognac. Noble cocktail color, aroma and taste, which is created for many years in damp cellars among the barrels darkened by time … Some drinks are incredibly long way to go before splashing into a glass glass and give a unique flavor to the true connoisseur. And after taking a sip of cognac, many do not even think that the man who once poured alcohol for him at a young barrel, probably a long time ago is dead …
The process of production of cognac is a long, laborious and time-consuming. And all in order to create one of the most noble of beverages in the world.
So, how does a better job in the world of French cognac?


2. First, let’s define some terms.
What is the region of Cognac, so zealously guarding the right to use its name and what it eats?
Cognac has 6 sub-regions (appellations), which strictly defined boundaries. Cognac spirits of each subregion have their own distinctive features. For example, the brandy that is produced from grapes harvested in the Grande Champagne, has a light, delicate aroma with dominant floral tones and Borderies on soils rich in clay and silica, the vineyards grow, giving beautiful rounded and soft brandy with pronounced notes of violets. Use these features when mixing allows the master of cognac Affairs achieve certain properties of the final product. To drink can be called Cognac (Cognac), it must be produced from grape spirits, grown only on the territory of these subregions.
Subregions are named:
— the Grande Champagne (Grand Champagne) or Grand Fine Champagne (Grand Fine Champagne)
— The Petite Champagne (Petite Champagne ) or Fine Petite Champagne (Fin Petite Champagne)
— Borderies (Borderies)
— Fins Bois (Fins Bois)
— Bons Bois (Bon Bois)
— Bois Ordinaires (Bois Ordiner)
best are subregions of Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne and Borderies, but it is not means that the alcohol produced from the grapes the other sub-regions, much inferior in quality. Incidentally, most of famous brands of cognac contain cognac spirits of several subregions.
Yes, do not be confused, «Champagne», in this case to the Champagne region, it is not relevant. The word «champagne» comes from the Latin Campania and means «plain», «agricultural area» and «lime the soil.» So there were similar in name but completely different is generated there product regions — is the name of equal rights applies to the Champagne region (where they make champagne), and for the region Grande Champagne (where they make cognac).

How to make brandy

3. not any wine suitable for the production of cognac. The best results are obtained from the distillation of wine, created from sour grapes, containing the minimum amount of sugar. The main grape used for the production of brandy, called Ugni Blanc (Ugni Blanc). In 98% of the vineyards in the region is growing this variety. It also permitted varieties are Colombard (Colombard) and Folle Blanche (Folle Blanche). Of the new varieties are experimenting with Folinyanom (hybrid Ugni Blanc and Folle Blanche). Ugni Blanc grows on the rootstock of American vines at the end of the XIX century, when the phylloxera killed almost all the vineyards in the region and throughout France. American vines resistant to phylloxera, and Ugni Blanc survives better than others on the American rootstock.
In Italy, the variety Ugni Blanc and Trebbiano called there because of this variety make a white wine.
Grape vines are planted at intervals of 3 meters to as much as possible to open it to the sun. Harvest once a year — at the beginning of October. Some owners of vineyards producing vintage manually, but most use the machine to speed up the process. The collected grapes are pressed immediately in traditional flat horizontal presses. The resulting juice is left in fermentation without added sugar. The initial process is exactly the same process of production of white wine.

How to make brandy

4. But more white wine is becoming a cognac. But first it is made ​​moonshine.
After three weeks, already young dry wine Blanc de Blanc (about 8% alcohol) is sent to distillation (Charentais method, which reached us intact), where it passes two stages of boiling, as a result of which appears cognac alcohol.
The process of double distillation — is very difficult. In the first stage unfiltered white wine, bring to a boil, alcohol vapors rise to the top in the cap of the distiller, pass through the tube and is condensed in a cooling system.

How to make brandy

5. The obtained crude alcohol (French — brouillis). His strength is typically 27-32%.

How to make brandy

6. Next, the resulting liquid is subjected to distillation in a second distillation secondary boiler. And this boiler capacity can not exceed 30 hectoliters.

How to make brandy

7. receive a basic quality cognac spirit (fr. Bonne chauffe) In the second stage of their crude alcohol during secondary distillation. It is here, in the second stage of distillation, completely opens the experience and skill «distillation master», which is responsible for the correct selection of the first, second and third fraction of the distillate. It was the second fraction, a fortress of 68-72% alcohol, talking on the further aging in oak barrels and becomes cognac

How to make brandy

8. At this stage, the work is extremely important specialist distillation, because we must be able to cut the median fraction in the second distillation — the so-called «heart» — from primary and tertiary fractions, called «head» and «tail».

How to make brandy

9. It is interesting that all of the major cognac houses are used not only to their own spirits produced in their distilleries, but also many small alcohols alcohol producers. As a rule, these are small farms, on which there is a closed cycle of production of alcohol: own vineyard equipment for fermentation, stills. Cognac houses cooperate with them on a long term basis, constantly monitoring the quality of the supplied alcohol.
On many private distilleries used old vintage equipment, which for many decades. On the alcohol is not affected in any way and, most importantly here the hand of the master by distillation.

10. By the way, several types of commonly used secondary distillation. According to the first — the wine is distilled in tandem with the tail that provides a fuller bouquet of cognac. The second method is based on the alcohol mixture to distillation head and tail fractions. Legally alcohol distillation ends on March 31, and an excerpt of brandy starts from this point. He was sent to the cognac house.

How to make brandy

11. Even the dog is interesting that we so much time to take pictures and record the closet, where always something cooking his master.
Oh, dog … Do not you know that from here begins cognac.

How to make brandy

12. The starting point of cognac extracts think April 1 every year. Poured in oak barrels of various capacities alcohol is left on for several years.
Kept coming brandy in special cellars, which maintains a constant temperature and humidity.
Very often cognac cellars are located on the banks of the Charente river, because here high humidity, which is so important to drink the correct exposure. The natural moisture, which holds the barrel, is one of the determining factors in the process of aging.

How to make brandy

13. Brandy alcohol kept in oak barrels, usually 350 liter at a constant temperature of 15 °, where it can mature from 2 to 50 years. During this time cognac spirit loses some of its strength, and the oak gives the drink a nice amber color and flavors. The substances drawn cognac oak are called dry extracts. Going natural oak qualities develops the bouquet of cognac, makes a special taste, known as rancio.
Exposure eaux consists of three stages: extraction (penetrating wood components in alcohol), hydrolysis (change in the properties and preparation for the «digest the wood») and oxidation (color gets saturation, new notes of taste).
Cognac alcohol is matured in casks made ​​entirely of oak, traditionally grown in the forests of Limousin (Limousin) and Tronçais (Tronze). Charente Masters have long recognized the unique quality of this tree. Forest of Tronçais, located in the Allier region (Allier), provides coopers (masters for the production of barrels) fine-grained soft wood ideal porosity, and the forest Limousin — ensures durable and medium-tree (on the production of the barrels I will separately).

How to make brandy

14. The quality and strength of the drink directly dependent on the exposure time. In fact, the term is defined elite cognac.
Barrels used no more than five years for the primary exposure. At this stage, a significant portion of cognac spirits will be selected, assemble and bottled, going to the store shelves with markings VS and the VSOP.
In the basement of the same will only lay the best spirits, continuing to be maintained.
It is because they are made ​​brandies higher categories — XO, Napoleon, Richard et al. (special categories differ from each manufacturer)

How to make brandy

15. All the time until the brandy is in the cask, absorbing all the best from the oak and developing its most exquisite flavors, it is constantly in contact with the air and gradually loses a small amount of ethyl alcohol, which is called «angels share». Experts say that a year from each cask evaporates through the pores of 2-3% alcohol.
Alcohol vapors are deposited on the walls. Here they had a special «drunk» mold, because of which the wall in cognac cellars are always black.

16. When the brandy, according to the expert, the shutter speed reaches the peak, it is placed in an old barrel, where it «rests». Old barrels have nothing to give the drink and practically did not change.
If cognac, according to the «cellar master», reaches a peak in its development, it is poured from barrels in glass bottles, the so-called «give-zhony» (fr. Dames-Jeanne ), sealed and placed in the most remote place cellars where they can be stored for decades or even centuries unchanged. This is a special place in the cellar, which is called Paradise (fr. Paradis).
Read more about Brandy Rae can be read here.

How to make brandy

17. The most important stage of cognac production — this mixing brandy with different characteristics. He engaged in this specially trained person, in the jargon of winemakers called Master bouquet. On how cognac is made, it depends on taste, status and labeling. But in any case, a good cognac can be found in the thousands, because of its pungent aroma and strong taste to remember.

How to make brandy

18. On the basis of a few aged alcohol is assemblage and reduction. Assemblage — mixing alcohol (eau-de-vie), the reduction — a gradual, very careful dilution with water (as the alcohol and the water is very polar, rapid mixing them can result in injury produced cognac, distortion of its aroma and flavor). Often reducyruut fortified waters, rather than plain water. Fortified water — febl (faibles) or small water (petites eaux) -. Mixed alcohol and water, about 15-20% strength
for which the water is added? To the beverage strength corresponded to the set parameters.
Also on stage assemblage of brandy can be added to the sugar and caramel. It is legally allowed. Although the caramelization is not particularly welcome, as the cheapest way to achieve a certain taste, and apply it, as a rule, for the most inexpensive brand of cognac — VS.
In the photo you can see how different cognacs with different exposure period.
The brighter the drink, the more he is younger …

How to make brandy

19. Brandy production at all stages of a very highly regulated and controlled. No experiments are not allowed — even if brandy is not intended for sale.
Now, about the notation. There are regulated by the traditional designation of the minimum term of cognac aging. They are divided into the following main categories:
. The VS — delay of at least two years
. VSOP, Reserve — an extract of at least four years
. VVSOP, Grande Reserve — at least five years
. XO, Napoleon — delay of at least six years
It should be borne in mind that for blends (mixtures of different alcohols) always indicates the youngest alcohol.
also interesting is the fact that different manufacturers under the standard notation can mean much more exposure than the minimum. For example, some small cognac houses XO — cognac is thirty, and, for example, VS — twelve.

How to make brandy

20. In the Cognac region registered about 20 thousand cognac houses. (So ​​it is not only cognac Courvoisier, Hennessy, Martell, Rémy Martin and Camus)
However, in reality are now in the region of about 5000 manufacturers left, but only 12 of them have a full cycle !!! The rest carry a certain stage of production. Someone just alcohol distillation, and some only an excerpt, assemblage and bottling of cognac under its own brand.

How to make brandy

21. How to drink cognac?
As a rule, it is drunk as an aperitif or, conversely, as a digestif. Also brandy is increasingly being used in cocktails in recent years, and some manufacturers have a brand, specifically designed for cocktails.
The best support cognac — coffee, cigars and chocolate. Various desserts (eg, apple charlotte) and fruits. As well as snacks go
Regarding lemon. Do not ask the French about the lemon applied to cognac! Lemon — the worst snack for brandy, completely kills the taste.
This fashion has gone from Nicholas II, who hated the taste of brandy, but was forced to drink it out of etiquette. Then he, in fact, escaped lemon, instantly neutralizing the taste of the drink. In Soviet times, the tradition of a snack cognac lemon, as well as to keep the drink in the fridge, sold everywhere and sometimes occurs even in our time …
So drink brandy from the right glasses to correct a tulip shape and with the right accompaniment …

How to make brandy

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