Some of the approaches to making cognac and armagnac were incorporated into the way that we make our rakia. Essentially, rakia is a fruit brandy or eau-de-vie, particularly, if left un-aged. I first experienced this noble spirit while visiting Bordeaux in 2016, while researching different approaches to truffle orchard management. It so happens that some people with truffle orchards in France, particularly the Bordeaux region, also are distillers and produce eau-de-vie, which is then sold to bottlers to be marketed under their respective brands. Of course, they also keep some for themselves.
Our GODET Great Classics tasting took place at Apollo Wine in Sofia. After 10 years of offering an expertly curated wine selection online, Doni and Mitko Nikolov finally have a multifunctional space to shop, taste, and learn about wine and spirits. Coincidentally, Mitko was one of my instructors when I took my WSET Level 2 in Wine and Spirits in June 2016.
Cognac is only produced in a small region of France that is known for its chalky terrain. The nutrient-deprived soils produce dry, acidic wines that shine only through distillation and maturation. There are only six grape varieties that are legally permitted for cognac production of the six 98% are Ugni Blanc.
The laws that surround making cognac are very specific as it is part of the French system of appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC). For example, grapes that are harvested in September must be distilled no later than March 31st of the following year. The eau-de-vie must not be higher than 72.4% ABV and the still used for the double distillation must be an alambic charenais with a worm tub condenser, to name a few examples of the specifications.
Cognac labeling can be a bit confusing to the average consumer because they use the compte system to denote the minimum age of the spirits in the bottle. Unlike the Gregorian calendar, which runs from January – December. The compte year starts April 1 – March 31st, hence the reason that all wine must be distilled by that date. This system is important to understand, especially when choosing your cognac. VS (Very Special) has been aged a minimum of 2 years, VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale), a minimum of 4 years, and XO (Extra Old) a minimum of 10 years, this doesn’t mean that a bottle of VSOP is only a blend of 4-year-old Cognac, but the youngest barrel used in the blend is 4 years. The age statement on whisky is similar, minus the compte system.
Godet Cognac in La Rochelle has existed since 1588. We had the opportunity to taste their Great Classics collection, the VS Classic, VSOP Original, and the XO Fine Champagne. Angel and I were very partial to the XO Fine Champagne, it was a complex blend, which included some barrels that were aged 25 years. It was pleasant on the palette, smooth and rich with notes of cherry, dark red fruits, floral, leather, and hints of chocolate. We took a bottle home! If you would like to find out more about sourcing Godet in Bulgaria contact Vassilen Valtchanov at Tobacco Import.
It was a fantastic evening hosted by Doni and Mitko that even included acoustic performances by Lune Delachance singing classic French songs to accompany our tasting. An overall wonderful date night for Angel and I.