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A taste of Cognac

1c737f6bf76c2f983c77446629a188d8?s=47 Sylvain Abélard
April 12, 2013

A taste of Cognac

This talk was given at DevsLoveBacon 2013, april 12th in London, UK.
You can find the video, but my english was bad :'(

This talk is all about cognac and brandies. What you can read on the label and what it all means. Its land and its centuries-old, rich and complex history. The fascinating alchemy that turns a grape into cognac. Its differences and relationships with other beverages. And of course... how to taste this golden, divine-smelling drink. Not drinking? This talk is for anyone who marvel at tinkerers, experiments, hidden secrets and nature's gifts: cognac has all this and much more! Please enjoy... with moderation.


Sylvain Abélard

April 12, 2013


  1. A taste Of COgnaC A taste Of COgnaC @DevsLoveBacon -

    @abelar_s - maitre-du-monde.fr Flickr - CC - PictrOneX Thanks everyone. I’m so glad to be here, everyone is so amazing. Oh, and please drink responsibly, don’t drink and drive, and mind your health.
  2. Flickr - CC - PictrOneX COgnaC & brandieS Cognac and

    brandies Reading the label Land & History Making Of Tasting Q&A? Why this topic? My grandfather is a winemaker, I heard about very pricey wines, and I wondered how can someone sell this, and any one could buy it. Such a great wine would be wasted on me: I can’t appreciate it. So I tried to educate myself.
  3. brand wijn © BNIC - phototheque.cognac.fr Still head Boiler Swan

    neck Wine heater Coiled pipe Cooling head Alcohol measurement The key is double distillation.
  4. © BNIC - phototheque.cognac.fr Cognac vs. Armagnac Flickr - CC

    - PictrOneX Difference between Cognac and Armagnac. Also double-distillation, but a different place and pot still. Cognac got a huge boost in trade thanks to the river Charente, access to the Armagnac region was much more difficult.
  5. AgeS & CriteriA Flickr - CC - Dino8 Cognac and

    brandies Reading the label Land & History Making Of Tasting Q&A? Just like whiskies, Cognacs are a blend There are no rules, sometimes you got a single blend, most often, not. When mixing spirits, what’s on the label is the youngest and less noble.
  6. Aging © BNIC - Jean-Yves Boyer Aging: taking color and

    aroma from the barrel A cognac stops aging once it’s in the bottle (actually, it takes a few months to settle... Maître de Chai must require impressive mastery) Angels’ share: alcoholic degree decreases as alcohol evaporates Paradise: most wineries keep a «library» of old spirits in their caves
  7. Champagne? Cognac Grande Champagne Cognac Petite Champagne Cognac Borderies Cognac

    Fins Bois Cognac Bons Bois Cognac Bois Ordinaires Armagnac © BNIC - phototheque.cognac.fr Why are you writing Champagne on a Cognac’s bottle? Well, it’s actually some regions around cognac, from most to least noble.
  8. lAnd & hiStORy Flickr - CC - Dino8 Cognac and

    brandies Reading the label Land & History Making Of Tasting Q&A?
  9. History Flickr - CC - PictrOneX Commerce treaty with the

    UK in 1860 Huge expansion until 1879 Phylloxera (parasite) hit hard in France, mostly in 1866 (actually lasted until 1894) So our grapes are now mostly Ugni Blanc and other, Phylloxera-resistant vines from the US
  10. Commerce Flickr - CC - PictrOneX 90% of all Cognac

    gets exported in 160 countries
  11. nAtuRe & CRaft Cognac and brandies Reading the label Land

    & History Making Of Tasting Q&A? Flickr - CC - Dino8
  12. Grapes Flickr - CC - TheCulinaryGeek http://www.flickr.com/photos/preppybyday/5076313963/sizes/o/in/photostream/ Why grapes? A

    fruit with sugary juice and the right bacteria on the skin. What’s wine? So when you crush the fruit, fermentation does its job. What’s Pineau? Someone stored Cognac with grape must. Yummy :)
  13. Barrels Flickr - CC - Katdaned http://www.flickr.com/photos/katdaned/3543185943/sizes/l/in/photostream/ Charred oak barrels

    that give the smells, aromas, color and some taste
  14. Wineries Flickr - CC - David Boujenah http://www.flickr.com/photos/boudj/2198526164/sizes/z/in/photostream/ Wineries are

    caves with blackened walls (that’s actually a mushroom)
  15. Glasses © BNIC - Andrew Thomas Tulip Glasses so you

    can warm the cognac with your hand, and it keeps aromas in
  16. See, Smell, taSte Cognac and brandies Reading the label Land

    & History Making Of Tasting Q&A? Flickr - CC - Dino8
  17. Serve © BNIC - Roger Cantagrel Let it breathe and

    warm it with your hand at about 30s/year of age (yes, that makes 5mn for 10yo)
  18. Swirl © BNIC - Stéphane Charbeau Swirl it and look

    at the color, and tears/legs
  19. Nose © BNIC - Gérard Martron Bring it closer to

    your nose while savouring the smells
  20. © BNIC - Gérard Martron Nose As it ages, it

    smells and tastes of fruits, flowers, woods and spice!
  21. Taste - Fruits Les p © BNIC - Gérard Martron

    Take small sips
  22. Taste - Flowers © BNIC - Gérard Martron Wait between

    the sips
  23. Taste - Woods © BNIC - Gérard Martron Let it

    deploys aromas
  24. Taste - Spices © BNIC - Gérard Martron Savour the

  25. Pairings © BNIC - Gérard Martron Pineau is already a

    pairing: grape must + cognac Grand Marnier is cognac + Cointreau (itself a triple-distillation of sour oranges) Have a cognac with a cigar, coffee, chocolate...
  26. tAStinG! Vieux Pineau Blanc (grape must + cognac) a nice

    introduction to tastes you should look for VS (2.5yo) + Schweppes Raisin young cognac is perfect for long drinks VSOP (6~9yo) + ice cubes rich but not too much aftertase XO (10~20yo) notice the longer taste Flickr - CC - Dino8 Thanks so much to the WestCo asso guys and Athanor cognac, you rock!
  27. ‣ Reference phototheque.cognac.fr conference.cognac.fr ‣ France @westco: an association BNIC:

    the official Bureau but you should come and visit us anyway ;) ‣ London BNIC & Phipps PR Details & Thanks Bureau National interprofessionnel du Cognac Thanks to everyone who helped me get in contact with the right people!
  28. Thank you! QuestionS? @abelar_s maitre-du-monde.fr Flickr - CC - Dino8

    Soupe de champagne : 1d VS, 4d champagne, 1d lime, 1d cane syrup Morignac: 1/2 cognac, 1/2 perrier, crushed ice, crushed mint, sugar Pink Love: 2d cognac, 1d raspberry liquor (Chambord), 9d champagne. 1 raspberry Summit: green lime + ginger, 2cl VSOP. Press, put ice. 2cl more VSOP, 6cl lemonade and cucumber skin And so much more... invite your own!
  29. Flickr - CC - PictrOneX Main Houses ‣ Hennessy -

    Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy ‣ Rémy Martin - Rémy Cointreau ‣ Martell - Pernod Ricard ‣ Courvoisier - Beam Inc. ‣ Camus - family-owned ‣ Otard - Bacardi
  30. ‣ PictrOneX http://www.flickr.com/photos/s9500/ ‣ Dino8 (Bernard Fumeau) http://www.flickr.com/photos/ 65073487@N00/ ‣

    Padorange http://www.flickr.com/photos/ padorange/galleries/ 72157625623478890 FlickR + CC-By Flickr - CC - Dino8 Finding great pictures is hard. Thanks!