How to make the best brandies in the world
• How to make the best brandies in the world
Did you know that the cognac - it's a village?
However, a very rich and well-known all over the world. And all thanks to the favorite drink gourmet and esthete named in her honor and is a symbol of elegance, taste and success.
Cognac. Noble cocktail of color, aroma and flavor, which is created for many years in damp cellars among the barrels darkened by time ... Some drinks are incredibly long way to go before splash in glass goblet and give a unique flavor to the true connoisseur. And after taking a sip of cognac, many do not even think that the man who once poured alcohol for him at a young barrel, probably a long time ago is dead ...
brandy production process is long, tedious and time-consuming. And all in order to create one of the most noble of beverages in the world.
So, how do you do the world's best French cognac?
First, let's define some terms.
What is the region of Cognac, so zealously guarding the right to use its name and what it eats?
Cognac has 6 subregions (appellations), which is strictly defined boundaries. Cognac alcohols each subregion have their distinctive features. For example, brandy that is produced from grapes harvested in Grande Champagne has a light, delicate aroma with floral dominant tones and Borderies on soils rich in clay and silicon, vines grow, giving fine soft rounded and brandies with distinct tones violets. Use of these features enables mixing masters cognac cases to achieve certain properties of the final product. To drink can be called Cognac (Cognac), it must be made from grapes of alcohols, grown only on the territory of these subregions. The subregions are:
- Grande Champagne (Grand Champagne) or Grand Fine Champagne (Grand Fine Champagne)
- Petite Champagne (Champagne Petit) or Fine Petite Champagne (Fin Petite Champagne)
- Borderies (Borderies)
- Fins Bois (Fins Bois)
- Bons Bois (Bon Bois)
- Bois ordinaires (Bois Ordiner)
The best are subregions of Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne and Borderies, but it does not mean that alcohols made from grapes the other sub-regions, much inferior in quality. Incidentally, most of famous brands of cognac contain cognac spirits of several subregions.
Yes, do not be confused, "Champagne", in this case to the Champagne region, it is not relevant. The word "champagne" comes from the Latin Campania and means "plain", "agricultural area" and "limy soil." So there were similar in name but completely different is generated there product regions - is the name of equal rights applies to the Champagne region (where they make champagne), and for the region Grande Champagne (where they make cognac).
is not any wine suitable for the production of cognac. Best results are obtained in the distillation of wine, grape generated from the acid containing the minimum amount of sugar. The main grape used to produce brandy called Bottom Blanc (Ugni Blanc). 98% of vineyards in the region is growing this variety. Permitted varieties also include Colombard (Colombard) and Folle Blanche (Folle Blanche). Among the new varieties are experimenting with Folinyanom (hybrid Ugni Blanc and Folle Blanche). Ugni Blanc grows on the rootstock of American vines in the late XIX century, when the phylloxera killed almost all the vineyards in the region and throughout France. American vines resistant to phylloxera, and Ugni Blanc is better than others survives on American rootstock. In Italy, the variety Ugni Blanc called Trebbiano and there do a white wine from this variety.
Vines are planted at intervals of 3 meters to as much as possible to open it to the sun. Harvested once a year - at the beginning of October. Some owners of vineyards producing vintage manually, but most machines are used to speed up the process. Harvested grapes are exposed to pressing in the traditional flat horizontal presses. The resulting juice is left to ferment without the addition of sugar. The initial process is completely identical to the manufacturing process of white wine.
But then the white wine is becoming a brandy. But first it is made moonshine.
After three weeks, longer young dry wine Blanc de Blanc (about 8% alcohol) is sent to distillation (Charentais method, which came to us unchanged), where it undergoes two stages of boiling, which resulted in brandy alcohol appears.
The process of double distillation - is very difficult. In the first stage unfiltered white wine is brought to boiling, alcohol vapors rise up into the cap of the distiller, pass through the tube and condenses in a cooling system.
So get the crude alcohol (in French - brouillis). His strength is typically 27-32%.
Next, the liquid is subjected to distillation in a second distillation secondary boiler. Moreover, this boiler capacity can not exceed 30 hectoliters.
obtained base quality brandy alcohol (fr. Bonne chauffe) In the second stage of crude alcohol during secondary distillation. It is here, in the second stage of distillation, fully open the experience and skill "distillation master", which is responsible for the correct selection of the first, second and third fraction of the distillate. It was the second fraction, a fortress of 68-72% alcohol, talking on the further aging in oak barrels and becomes cognac
In this step is extremely important to work specialist distillation, because we must be able to cut the median fraction in a second distillation - the so-called "heart" - from primary and tertiary fractions, called "head" and "tail".
It is interesting that all of the major cognac houses are used not only its own alcohols obtained in their distilleries, but also many small alcohols alcohol producers. As a rule, these are small farms, on which there is a closed cycle of production of alcohol: own vineyard equipment for fermentation stills. Cognac houses cooperate with them on a long term basis, constantly monitoring the quality of delivered alcohol.
At many private distilleries used old vintage equipment, which for many decades. On the alcohol is not affected in any way and, most importantly here the hand of the distillation master.
By the way, is usually used several types of secondary distillation. According to the first - the wine is distilled in tandem with the tail, which gives a fuller bouquet of cognac. The second method is based on the alcohol mixture to distillation in a head and tail fractions. Legally alcohol distillation ends on March 31, and an excerpt of brandy starts from this point. It is sent to the cognac house.
Even the dog is interesting that we so much time take pictures and write in a closet, where always something cooking his master.
Ah, the dog ... Do not you know that from here that the cognac.
The starting point of cognac extracts believe April 1 of each year. Poured into oak barrels of various capacities alcohol left for a few years.
Stored in the future brandy special cellars where maintained at a constant temperature and humidity. Very often cognac cellars are located on the banks of the River Charente, t. To. The humidity here, which is so important to drink the correct exposure. The natural moisture, which stores the barrel is one of the determining factors in the aging process.
Brandy alcohol kept in oak barrels, usually 350 liter at a constant temperature of 15 °, where it can ripen from 2 to 50 years. During this time cognac spirit loses some of its strength, and the oak gives an amber color and pleasant flavors. The substances drawn cognac oak are called dry extracts. The transition of natural oak qualities develops cognac bouquet, produces a special taste, known as the ranch.
Exposure cognac consists of three stages: extraction (penetration of the wood components in alcohol), hydrolysis (changes in the properties and preparation to "digest the wood") and oxidation (color saturation becomes, new notes of taste).
Brandy spirit aged in casks made entirely of oak, traditionally grown in the forests of Limousin (Limousin) and Tronçais (Tronze). Charente masters have long recognized the unique quality of this tree. Forest of Tronçais, located in the region of Allier (Allier), provides Coopers (masters for the production of barrels) soft grained wood ideal porosity and forest Limousin - ensures durable and medium-tree (on the production of barrels, I tell separately).
The quality and strength of the drink is directly dependent on the exposure time. In fact, the term is defined elite cognac.
For primary exposure barrels used no more than five years. At this stage, a significant portion of cognac will be selected, assemble and bottled, going to the store shelves with markings VS and VSOP. In the basement of the same will lie only the best spirits, continuing to be maintained.
It is from them will be made brandies higher categories -. XO, Napoleon, Richard and others (special category differ from manufacturer to manufacturer)
All the time until the brandy is in the cask, absorbing all the best of the oak and developing its most exquisite flavors, it is constantly in contact with the air and loses a small amount of brandy spirit, which is called "angels' share". Experts say that a year from each cask evaporates through the pores of 2-3% alcohol.
alcohol evaporation deposited on the walls. Here they had a special "drunk" mold, because of which the wall in cognac cellars are always black.
When cognac, according to the expert, reaches a peak exposure, it is placed in an old barrel, where it "rests". Old barrels have nothing to give him a drink, and almost do not change.
If cognac, according to the "cellar master", reaches its development peak, it is poured from barrels in glass bottles, the so-called "give-zhony" (fr. Dames-Jeanne), sealed and placed in the most remote place of the cellar, where they They can be stored for decades and even centuries without changes. This is a special place in the cellar, which is called Paradise (fr. Paradis).
The most important stage of cognac production - this mixing brandy with different characteristics. Engaged in this specially trained person, in the jargon it is called a master winemakers bouquet. On how to make cognac, it depends on taste, status and labeling. But in any case, a good cognac can be found in the thousands, because of its aroma and strong taste astringent remember.
On the basis of a few aged alcohol is assemblage and reduction. Assemblage - mixing alcohols (eau-de-vie), reduction - gradual, very careful dilution with water (. T. To alcohol and water is very polar, their rapid mixing can result in injury produced brandy, distort its flavor and taste). Often reducyruut fortified waters, rather than plain water. Alcoholized water - febl (faibles) or small water (petites eaux) - mixed alcohol and water, about 15-20% strength. Why water is added? To the beverage strength corresponded to the set parameters.
Also on the stage of the assemblage of brandy can be added to the sugar and caramel. It is legally allowed. Although the caramelization is not particularly welcome, as the cheapest way to achieve a certain flavor, and used it as a rule, the most low-cost brands of cognac - VS.
In the photo you can see how different cognacs with different exposure period.
The lighter drink, so he is younger ...
Brandy production at all stages of a very highly regulated and controlled. No experiments are not allowed - even if brandy is not intended for sale.
Now, about the notation. There are traditional notations regulated minimum period cognac aging. They are divided into the following main categories:
V.S. - an extract of at least two years.
V.S.O.P., Reserve - an extract of at least four years.
V.V.S.O.P., Grande Reserve - at least five years.
X.O, Napoleon - an extract of at least six years.
It should be borne in mind that for the blends (mixtures of different alcohols) always shows the youngest alcohol.
Also interesting is the fact that various manufacturers under standard notation may imply much more exposure than the minimum. For example, some small cognac houses X.O. - a thirty-year brandy, but, for example, V.S. - twelve years old.
In the Cognac region registered about 20 thousand cognac houses. (So it is only cognac Courvoisier, Hennessy, Martell, Rémy Martin and Camus)
However, in reality it is now in the region of about 5000 manufacturers left, but only 12 of them have a full cycle !!! Others perform a certain stage of production. Someone just alcohol distillation, and some only an excerpt, assemblage and bottling of cognac under its own brand.
How to drink cognac?
As a rule, drink it as an aperitif or, conversely, as a digestif. Also brandy is increasingly being used in cocktails in recent years, and some manufacturers have a brand, specifically designed for cocktails.
The best support for cognac - coffee, cigars and chocolate. In various sweet foods (e.g., apple pie) and fruit as a snack are also good.
About lemon. Do not ask the French about the lemon in relation to brandy! Lemon - the worst snack for brandy, completely kills the taste.
This fashion has gone from Nicholas II, who hated the taste of brandy, but was forced to drink it out of etiquette. Then he, in fact, escaped lemon, instantly neutralizing the taste of the drink. In Soviet times, the tradition of a snack cognac lemon, as well as to keep the drink in the fridge, sold everywhere and sometimes occurs even in our time ...
So drink brandy right from the correct glasses in the shape of a tulip with a good accompaniment ...