Cognac is distilled brandy from the AOC region of Cognac in France. The designations VS (Very Special), VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) and XO (Extra Old) refer to the length of age of the cognac, meaning at least two, four and six year's respectively.
"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...
It all starts with the selection of grape varieties, mostly Ugni Blanc, perfectly suited to make Cognac... Once alcoholic fermentation is completed, the white wine has to be distilled to make the eau-de-vie. The distillation method has not changed since the birth of Cognac. The special Charentais copper stills “à repasse” that were used then are still in use today... Cognac is kept and aged for many years in oak casks... Cognac is a living product. During its long ageing in oak casks, it is in permanent contact with air. This allows the extraction of substances from the wood that give Cognac both its colour and bouquet... Making Cognac is the work of the Master Blender... the Cognac Master Blender (Maître de Chai) subtly blends together eaux-de-vie of different ages and from different crus. Rigorously, with experience and intuition, he strives to achieve consistency in his blends and loyalty among the followers of his House." - Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac
Map courtesy: Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac