The cognac manufacturing technology has suffered substantial improvements over several centuries, but its essence remained the same. Selected white grapes are gathered in October and pressed.
Must fermentation takes 3 to 4 weeks from harvesting and young dry wine is obtained. Here comes the most important stage of cognac production – primary distillation. 9 litres of wine give around 1 litre of cognac spirit – turbid and of mere colour. The secondary distillation requires special attention and mastership. The raw alcohol is again distilled at slow rates for 12 hours. As in the primary distillation, only the “heart” is preserved. Only this spirit, with strength varying from 62 to 72 degrees will be aged subsequently.
The next important stage is ageing. It is considered to be the decisive factor of quality.
Cognac is aged in oak barrels. Barrel material is of special importance. Cognacs contain over 500 components and all of them migrate into spirit from the oak.
Further-on, when the tasting expert decides that the spirit has matured, the most sophisticated process begins - blending, i.e. mixing of cognac spirits of different ages, different harvests, since no specific harvest alone is capable of giving the required multitude of tastes and smells to the drink.
Finally, the alcohol content in the cognac is lowered to 40% vol. by adding distilled water and a precise dose of caramel to confer a more saturated colour to the drink.