Cognac: the secrets of its manufacture
"The work of the distiller who produces this eau-de-vie is to capture the soul and essence of wine"
"The work of the distiller who produces this eau-de-vie is to capture the soul and essence of wine", according to Alexandre Gabriel (Cognac Ferrand). To understand this process, four cognac houses open their distilleries.
> Alexandre Gabriel, president of the Pierre Ferrand cognac house
“We are here in the distillery where the Pierre Ferrand cognacs are made, in front of a Charentais still.The process of making cognac is simple: We gently heat a wine to condense it.The work of the distiller, in his cognac production, is to capture the soul and essence of wine.
You have here what is called the boiler, we put the wine in this boiler to heat it. The particularity of Cognac is that the distillation is identical since its origin, that is to say, fire and not gas. The young eau-de-vie goes through the gooseneck,
we use the energy of the pipe which passes through the part of the still called wine heater, to go then in the condenser which is nothing but a copper coil which passes in a bath of water Here you have the distillate coming out, we are in first heat. There we have a very bouquet eau-de-vie,
with a lot of scent. This is the mess, the fruit of the first distillation. We remove the head and the tail, that is to say the beginning and the end of the distillation, to keep only the heart. This heart is then distilled a second time in the same apparatus. Each heater takes 12 hours. It takes 9 volumes of wine to 1 volume of water
life at 70 ° alcohol. We keep the heart, the essence of the wine! At the end of the second distillation, the 70 ° brandy will be barreled for many years to make cognac. “
REMOVING THE HEAD AND THE TAIL, SAY THE START AND END OF THE DISTILLATION, TO KEEP ONLY THE HEART
> Olivier Paultes, Director of Hennessy Distilleries
"The stills are all made of copper. In kitchens, copper is used because it is an excellent heat conductor. The reaction of eau-de-vie with copper gives a subtlety that we do not have with other materials. Distillation is an art, other distillers and cognac houses will control their stills with an iPhone, remotely, but we will obtain a product without soul, without typicity. It is necessary to be tailor-made, and always to be in search of this quality.
We start distilling in November, then December, January, February and March. After the end of March, we no longer have the right to the appellation since we do not add anything to the wine. The cognac appellation is a product that is blended over several years to always re-create the same quality in terms of colour - nose - mouth. It is therefore necessary to make a tailor-made distillation and adapt it each year to the wine, to extract the best from it.
The grape variety used for distillation is white ugni, which accounts for about 98% of the total. You then have other grape varieties, such as Folle Blanche, which are rarely used. Today, we prefer ugni blanc, because of its consistency and regularity of quality, to produce a cognac of identical quality every year."
WE CAN NOT CHEAT WITH DISTILLATION!
> Vincent Géré, development director of Rémy Martin cognac house
“We can not cheat with distillation! It’s all the work upstream of the vineyard, the best soils, the know-how of winemakers and winemakers that will be magnified by distillation.” We do not use at all preservatives, no sulphites,
the wines must be distilled immediately following the fermentation so that all their freshness is preserved. In my opinion, there is much more relationship between a cognac and a great wine, than there would be between a whiskey and a great wine. We are a concentration of wine, an extremely specific white wine,
but the origin wine and the soil that is expressed by this grape is extremely strong. “
> Jean-Marie Bernard, master distiller of Rémy Martin cognac house
"There is no training to become a master distiller, this profession can be learned over the years and through experience in the field. It is still desirable to have training in oenology and viticulture, because the whole product comes from there."
> Claudine Dudognon, Cognac Dudognon
“We, the Dudognon family, are a family of distillers, that is to say that we distill our crop, we take care of the soil and the vine.My husband distills the night and me the day. constant monitoring We have been distilling wood and coal for many years.
we collect a fine distillate loaded with fatty substances favorable to the longevity and the holding of eaux-de-vie. It is always very moving to taste an old cognac, because of course it is not us who elaborated it. The generation that produced it is no longer there to enjoy it, so we are always modest in front of a glass of brandy. “
Source : larvf.com