It identifies and protects a product that results from several stages involving carefully monitored practices and know-how, applied in a delimited geographical area.
Cognac production and aging conditions are recorded and regulated in the specifications, which guarantee its originality and uniqueness. Compliance with specifications is monitored by the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), recognized as the Cognac Defense and Management Body (DMB).
Specifications for the “Cognac”, “Eau-de-vie Cognac”, and “Eau-de-vie des Charentes” Geographical Indications established by the Cognac DMB are officially recognized by the French decree No.2015-10 dated 7 January 2015.
These specifications are subject to change; the BNIC, via the DMB, is responsible for any modifications.
The specifications establish the origins, terroir, and production methods
define and characterize the product
specify the obligatory declarations of certified operators
outline the main points to monitor
Cognac aging categories
The age of a spirit corresponds to the youngest component of the blending. Cognac cannot be commercialised before a minimum of two years of aging, without interruption, exclusively in a oak wood container. Below are the aging mentions mostly used.
At least2 years
Other terms: “3 Etoiles”, “Sélection”, “De Luxe” and “Very Special”
At least4 years
Other terms: “Réserve”, “Vieux”, “Rare”, “Royal” and “Very Superior Old Pale”
At least10 years
Other terms: “Hors d’âge”, “Extra”, “Ancestral”, “Ancêtre”, “Or”, “Gold”, “Impérial”, “Extra Old”
These mentions below are specific to Cognac that have aged 14 years or more.
“X.X.O.”, “Extra Extra Old”
Other aging categories
Supérieur”, “Cuvée Supérieure”, “Qualité Supérieure”
“Vieille Réserve”, “Réserve Rare” and “Réserve Royale”
“Napoléon”, “Très Vieille Réserve”, “Très Vieux”, “Héritage”, “Très Rare”, “Excellence” and “Suprême”
MAIN LEGAL NOTICES
A Cognac can be identified by the indications on the label.
Roll over each mention and discover their meaning.
The Geographical Indication must feature on the label:
- Eau-de-vie de Cognac
- Eau-de-vie des Charentes
GI “eaux-de-vie” may be accompanied by the wording “Fine”.
Aging categories indicate the age of the youngest eau-de-vie used in the final blend. Cognac cannot be sold before it has aged in an oak container for at least 2 years continously.
Net capacity in liters, milliliters or centiliters.
(At least 4 mm high for a capacity ranging from over 20 cl up to 100 cl)
Alcohol by volume
Wine spirits must have a minimum alcohol content by volume of 40% in order to be sold.
History of the Cognac geographical indication
Key points to remember
- Cognac is traditionally made by blending eaux-de-vie of different ages from different production areas, although it is not a requirement.
- Cognac always retains the age at which it is bottled since, unlike wine, spirits do not evolve after bottling.
- Cognac wine spirit is aged without interruption, exclusively in oak barrels.