Tag Archive for 'cognac'

The Art of Blending

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Welcome to our video podcast – The Art of Blending – Video Show #54.

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Blending, or the combining of multiple ingredients, has always been part of the art of cooking. So too has it always been a part of wine making and the creation of exotic mixed drinks. So, it should be no surprise that blending the flavors and aromas of Cognac with the culinary arts results in a sum greater than its parts. In fact, this beautiful marriage of components is likely to elicit a gastronomical delight. But, as with cooking, it is all about the quality of the ingredients.

There is a familiar saying, “All Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac”, and the Cognac region of France is rightly famous for its brandy, a spirit made by double-distilling wine to create an eau-de-vie, a colorless liquid of about 70% alcohol. After years of aging in large oak barrels, the spirit takes on additional complexities and various shades of amber-gold color depending upon age. During this aging process much of the alcohol is lost through evaporation (called the “angel’s share”), and after final blending the spirit is reduced to about 40% alcohol. Cognac is usually consumed on its own as an aperitif (before dinner), as a digestif (after dinner drink), or used in cooking. In addition, it has also become very popular as an ingredient in many cocktails.

GrapeRadio is pleased to present, “The Art of Blending”, a tribute to the artistic efforts of master blenders, chefs, and mixologists who use palettes of flavors to create passion in the world of wine, food and cocktails.

For More Info on Cognac: www.bnic.fr

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Distillation – The Birth of Cognac

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Welcome to our video podcast: Cognac Distillation – Video Show #99.

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After fermentation, the white wine is distilled into ‘eau-de-vie.’ To become Cognac, this involves a double distillation, for which only the heart, or middle portion of the second distillation is retained. The heads, too high in alcohol, and the tails, lacking harmony, are carefully removed and distilled over again to perfection.

For its first distillation, the unfiltered wine is brought to boil in the copper pot. Since alcohol evaporates faster than water, alcoholic vapors can be collected in the onion dome shaped cowl and in the swan neck, which slows the rectification process of the flavors, before passing into the long serpentine condenser coil. Vapors condense to the contact of the cooler and turn into a liquid known as ‘brouilli,’ with an alcoholic content of 27 to 30% vol. This is distilled a second time in a process called the ‘bonne chauffe’. The distiller’s key task is then to choose the moment when to isolate the ‘heart’ of this second distillation, extracting the ‘head’ and the ‘tail’ in the process.

This distillation process is a delicate and slow one. It lasts for approximately twenty four hours and requires the constant care of the distiller. It usually begins in November and is conducted day and night for several months. The rule binds it to stop at the latest at the end of March. Distillation is a key factor that gives Cognac its distinctive character. Its secrets are handed over from generation to generation.

The Versatility of Cognac

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As the saying goes, all Cognac is brandy – but not all brandy is Cognac. Cognac is distilled wine, or brandy, and often referred to as eau de vie. Of course, in order to be called Cognac, the brandy must be made according to strictly-defined regulations, and it must also come from the Cognac region in France. Located about a hundred miles north of Bordeaux, this twenty-mile area is called the “golden circle,” encompassing Cognac and the second distilling town of Jarnac.

During our recent visit to the Cognac region, we had the opportunity to visit with a number of producers to learn much more than we ever imagined about this fascinating beverage. Join us as we talk with Jérôme Durand, Director of Marketing and Communications for the BNIC, or Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac, to get a better sense of Cognac’s historical place in the world of wine.

To find out more information:

Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac: www.cognac.fr

If you like this interview check out our previous show:

All About Cognac: Show #172

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Show #245
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