Cognac Changes Xo Age Classification To Spirits Aged At Least 10 Years
Rule comes into effect on April 1 in order to formalise industry blending standards.
From the beginning of April, cognac is undergoing its most significant rule change in decades, with the spirits XO age classification adjusted to mean at least 10 years old.
Previously, XO could include cognacs aged at least six years old or more accurately six and half years from harvest, since there is half a year from the first autumn grape pressing to April 1, which is when most distillation is complete and the eaux-de-vie put in barrel.
The change has been introduced to bring the classifications in line with the categorys own common standards, because many XOs have long blended eaux-de-vie aged longer than 10 years, and often 15-20 years. By formalising this practice, the cognac industry is protecting its long-term quality standards, but also guarding against the temptation to bottle younger eaux-de-vie under the label as global demand puts increasing pressure on stocks of longer-aged spirit.
Cognacs presiding body, the Bureau National Interprofessionel du Cognac , first announced the plan in 2011, but gave producers a long lead time in order to mature more stocks for longer. Under the new law, producers will also be able to sell those XOs bottled before March 31 with younger spirits up until 31 March 2019.
How To Hold A Cognac Glass
The best cognac glass is the classic, tulip-shaped glass, with 12 cL sufficient in size. Its tulip shape is designed to concentrate the aromas and help identify them. The glass should always be perfectly transparent in order to better appreciate the colour of the cognac, which is the starting point for any tasting. Always hold the glass by the stem or the foot , and never by the base of the glass. Otherwise, the natural heat from the fingers or palm can amplify the alcoholic aspects and make the taste harder to appreciate.
Holding the glass by its stem also makes it easier to swirl the glass and let less volatile aromas express themselves.
Meaning Of Vs Vsop Xo Xxo
- VS – means “Very Special”, the youngest alcohol has been aged for at least two years. It can be also marked with 3 stars.
- VSOP – means “Very Superior Old Pale”, it is also referred as Reserve or Old. The youngest alcohol has been aged for at least four years.
- XO – means “Extra Old”, the youngest alcohol has been aged for at least six years or ten years for bottles packed after 1st April 2018. It is also known as Old Reserve.
- XXO – means “Extra Extra Old”, the youngest alcohol has been aged for at least fourteen years
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Terminology And Legal Definitions
The term brandy is a shortening of the archaic English brandewine or brandywine, which was derived from the Dutch word brandewijn, itself derived from gebrande wijn, which literally means “burned wine”. In Germany, the term Branntwein refers to any distilled spirits, while Weinbrand refers specifically to distilled wine.
In the general colloquial usage of the term, brandy may also be made from pomace and from fermented fruit other than grapes.
If a beverage comes from a particular fruit other than exclusively grapes, or from the must of such fruit, it may be referred to as a “fruit brandy” or “fruit spirit” or named using the specific fruit, such as “peach brandy”, rather than just generically as “brandy”. If pomace is the raw material, the beverage may be called “pomace brandy“, “marc brandy”, “grape marc”, “fruit marc spirit”, or “grape marc spirit” “marc” being the pulp residue after the juice has been pressed from the fruit.
Within particular jurisdictions, there are specific regulatory requirements regarding the labelling of products identified as brandy. For example:
Delamain Pale & Dry Xo
Delamains flagship expression, which is celebrating its centenary this year. A beguiling nose of lemon drops, Red Delicious apple skins, marmalade, cinnamon and slate. On the palate, that marmalade is accompanied by white pepper, cinnamon and cocoa, before a glorious rancio character washes in, with a savoury leather finish. Alc 40%
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Cognac Age Classifications Have Changed Throughout The Centuries
When Cognac was first produced in the Charente in the early 1600s, it was unaged distilled grape wine from grapes grown in the region, therefore there was no need for cognac ageing designations. Distilled wine or brandy, produced in and around the town of Cognac was called Cognac. Within a hundred years or so, Cognac Houses began to experiment with aging their Cognacs in oak barrels. The unaged Cognac was called Young and the barrel aged Cognac called Old. It would be another century before the designation V.S.O.P. cognac would appear when Hennessy produced a V.S.O.P cognac in 1818 at the request of The Prince of Wales and future King George IV of Great Britain.
In 1936, the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac outlined the requirements for distilled wine or brandy to be considered Cognac. The product must originate in the Cognac Appellation dorigine contrôlée that was established that same year. The grapes used to make Cognac must come from one of the six designated growing areas or crus located in the Cognac region. The six Cognac crus include: Borderies, Fins Bois Bons Bois and Bois Ordinaires, Bois à terroirs, Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne. In addition to the requirement that the grapes must come from one of the six approved appellations, Cognac must also must be made from grapes blended from 90% eau de vie from Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche and Colombard grapes with up to 10% Folignan, Jurancon blanc, Blanc Rame, Montils or Semillon grapes.
What Do The Initials Vs Vsop And Xo Mean
VS, VSOP and XO refer to the age and quality of the cognac. Each corresponds to how long the brandy has been aged in oak barrels. In 1983, following a request by the BNIC *, the French government drafted regulations governing the terms used to describe a cognacâs quality. These designations, which may be included on the label, refer to the age of the youngest eau-de-vie used in making the cognac.
VS stands for âVery Specialâ: only eaux-de-vie at least two years old can be used to make a VS cognac. Other denominators and expressions are permitted, such as â3 starsâ or âluxuryâ, and as such are included in the VS cognac category.
VSOP stands for âVery Superior Old Paleâ: VSOP cognacs are created from eaux-de-vie aged for at least four years. The VSOP category includes designations such as âOldâ or âReserveâ.
XO stands for âExtra Oldâ: XO cognacs are made only from eaux-de-vie at least six years old. Cognacs such as âNapoleonâ or âOld Reserveâ are equivalent to XO cognac.
Incidentally, the reason these abbreviations are in English is because cognac has been exported for many years and the first importers spoke English.
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Cognac Xo Age Classification Increases To 10 Years
The Cognac industry has increased its XO age classification from the current six to 10 years.
Taking effect from 1 April this year, in accordance with the provisions of the Cognac specifications, all XO Cognac brandy will be classified as 10 years old, trade body the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac has confirmed.
This means the youngest eau-de-vie included in a blended Cognac labelled XO must have been aged in barrels for at least 10 years, instead of the six years previously required.
The changes would be introduced to extend the quality positioning of the category, said the BNIC, which first announced the amended law in 2011, but is implementing the change this year in order to give producers longer to mature their stocks.
In addition, with many XO Cognacs on the market with the youngest eau-de-vie exceeding 10 years of age, the new measure would align the regulation and the market reality, added the BNIC.
To support producers with the transition, the BNIC has put into place a system that allows Cognac XO spirits, classified as six, seven, eight and nine years, pre-packaged by 31st March 2018 and in accordance with BNIC provisions to be marketed as XO until 31st March 2019.
To be able to take advantage of this lead-time, producers must send the BNIC a statement of the pre-packaged XO* eaux-de-vie stocks concerned by the 1st March 2018.
What Does The Xo Mean On Remy Martin
Extra OldAbout Rémy Martin XO Rémy Martin XO is an aromatic and complex blend of up to 400 different eaux-de-vie. The XO designation means Extra Old, and tells us that the blends youngest brandy is stored for at least six years in oak casks.
How do you drink XO Cognac?
As an aperitif, cognac is usually consumed neat. Adding a drop of water will reveal more fruity, floral, and spicy aromas, making the tasting experience smoother.
What is the difference between Rémy Martin XO and XO Excellence?
Launched mid 2003, XO Excellence replaced Rémys XO Special. Comprising 15% Petite Champagne and 85% Grande Champagne, this Fine Champagne cognac is blended from some 300 eaux-de-vie aged 10 37 years and is said to have an average tasting age of 25 years.
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What About Blending And Aging
After distillation, the liquid is blended and aged, which is what really makes cognac special. At Hennessy, for example, a tasting committee of 7 people meets from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to taste about 40 different samples of “eaux de vie,” as the individual distilled spirits are known before blending. It takes 10 years of training before one can join the committee, according to the brand’s ambassador Jordan Bushell.
Cognac must be aged for at least 2 years in French oak, at which point it’s labeled “V.S. .” After that, these distinctions that break down a bottle’s age and quality:
- V.S.O.P. : the youngest brandy in the blend must be aged at least four years in oak
- X.O. : the youngest brandy in the blend must be aged at least six years in oak
Frapin’s Chteau Fontpinot Xo Is The Best Of The Best
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Liquors / Chloe Jeong
Cognac is the spirit you should be reaching for and drinking now, says certified cognac educator Ms. Franky Marshall. Thats, in part, because of its diversity. Made from grapesprimarily high-acid, low-alcohol ugni blanc varietythat are fermented, twice-distilled, and then matured in oak barrels before blending and bottling, this brandy from Frances Cognac region is not just for sipping after dinner by the fire. In fact, its one of the widest-ranging spirits categories out there.
Much of the difference between bottles has to do with how long they are aged. Younger VS, or very special, cognac is blended from brandies at least two years old, while an XO cognac, or “extra-old” cognac, gets its rich depth because it must be aged at least six years. The VSOP, or very superior old pale cognacs, blended from four-year and older brandies, are right in the middle, with characteristics of both youth and age.
We consulted with our experts and have curated the best cognacs to get right now. Thanks to its balanced flavors and intense aromatics, Frapin’s Château Fontpinot XO is our top pick.
Read on for our complete list to find your next favorite cognac.
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How To Serve Cognac
There are numerous types of cognac glasses. Understanding which glass to choose when serving cognac plays an essential role in any Martell cognac tasting.
The best way to drink cognac neat is from a tulip glass. It has a narrower base than a balloon glass, and a slightly narrower opening, which helps to release all the aromatic strength of the cognac.
While the tulip glass is appropriate for all Martell cognac tasting, it is essential to fully enjoy Martell Cordon Bleu Extra, Martell Chanteloup XXO and LâOr de Jean Martell.The balloon glass is widely used in Asia. It retains all the aromas which come from the cognac when served on ice or as a long drink.
The best glass for cocktails with cognac, long drinks or cognac on the rocks is often a tumbler or highball glass.
Best For A Sidecar: Bache
Courtesy of Drizly
Region: Cognac, France | ABV: 40% | Tasting notes: Vanilla, Butterscotch, Coconut, Pears, Apricot
Made from eau-de-vie from the Fin Bois appellation thats aged two years in French Limousin oak, it spends another six months in barrels from Tennessee. That American oak finish leaves it with plenty of vanilla and butterscotch to convert bourbon drinkers, says Desoblin. To really see it shine, however, try it in the classic cognac cocktail that everyone is revisiting now, the Sidecar, where the citrus melds with its snappier fruit notes and balances out its sweetness.
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Best For Beginners: Hine Rare Vsop
Courtesy of Drizly
Region: Cognac, France | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Almonds, Orange, Chocolate, Dried flowers
A really youthful cognac can often taste hot and alcoholic, says Thorn, so though VS cognac is less expensive, it might turn off beginners. Instead, she suggests spending a bit more money to invest in a cognac with some age on it.
I love the Hine Rare VSOP, she says. Its great for both tall, light cocktails and more spirit-forward drinks. But to get the most out of it, novices should try it on its own. Almond skin, dried petals, and plenty of fruit meet a luscious mouthfeel and round, nutty flavors. Its a lovely sipping spirit with very well-balanced, beautiful characteristics, says Thorn.
Cognac Vs Vsop Xo : The Different Cognac Quality Grades
When it comes to choosing a bottle of Cognac, the range of different grades on offer can make selecting the best one a little complicated. The labels on the bottles are printed with V.S., X.O., V.S.O.P. and there are sometimes stars on the classification too. The price of each of the Cognac grades varies a great deal as well, so what does it all mean? What is the difference between a VSOP Cognac and XO Cognac ? Have a look at our guide to the classification of Cognac so you can understand what you are buying.
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Best For Sipping: Camus Xo Borderies
Courtesy of Total Wine
Region: Cognac, France | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Flowers, Figs, Walnuts, Citrus Zest
The only globally available cognac sourced exclusively from the premium Borderies cru, this unique bottle is a solid one for sipping, says Desoblin. Its very round, very mellow, very velvety, he says, and what else would you want in a fine sipping cognac besides excellent texture? How about a very fruity profile? A zippy, flowery nose resolves to dried-fruit flavors with a touch of nuttiness, making this surprisingly affordable bottle a benchmark for the appellation.
What Does Vsop And Xo Cognac Mean
This entry was posted on January 17, 2011 by Michael Collins.
Perhaps the most confusing aspect facing shoppers seeking a decent bottle of cognac is the use of generic terms such as VS, VSOP and XO. The big cognac houses such as Hennessy, Martel, Courvoisier and others use these to describe their highly blended cognacs. These big negoçiants buy their cognacs from around 5000 small producers and blend them together. Often, these blends may contain as many as 2000 different cognacs from individual producers.
The rules governing cognac are many, but essentially it must be double distilled and the final distillation must be between 67 to 72 degrees . It can take several decades for the strength to drop naturally to that which most of us drink cognac, 40 degrees. This natural process is by evaporation, the lost alcohol being known as Part des Anges, the Angels Share. To avoid waiting and to minimise cost, the negoçiants will dilute the young cognacs, often adding sugar syrup and caramel. These additives give colour and soften the fiery effects. In contrast cognacs that have aged naturally develop richer qualities and greater individuality of their flavours.
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Cognac: Xo Classification To Rise To 10 Years
The Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac has announced that all XO Cognac brandy will be classified as 10 years old from April 1, 2018.
The BNIC says this is in accordance with the provisions of its Cognac specifications. This means that the youngest eau-de-vie included in a blended Cognac labelled XO* must have been aged in barrels for at least 10 years, instead of the six years previously required.
The bureau says in practice, there are already many XO* cognacs on the market with the youngest eau-de-vie exceeding 10 years of age. The new measure aims to align the regulation and the market reality, and also to extend the quality positioning of XO*.
The measure was first confirmed by the BNIC in 2011, allowing brands time to anticipate the change. To support the producers in the transition, Cognacs generic body has put into place a system that allows cognac XO spirits, classified as six, seven, eight and nine years, pre-packaged by March 31 at the latest and in accordance with BNIC provisions to be marketed as XO until March 31 2019.
To be able to take advantage of this lead-time, the operators must send the BNIC a statement of the pre-packaged XO eaux-de-vie stocks concerned by March 1, 2018, using a stock declaration form available from the BNIC.
* ‘XO’: ‘Out of Age’ Extra, ‘Ancestral’. ‘Ancestor’, ‘Gold’ and ‘Imperial’
The designation ‘Napoleon’ remains six years minimum
To find out more about the implementation methods, visit: www.cognac.fr