Ages and grades

In the majority of cases Cognac does not bear a vintage since, like champagne, it is blended from casks from different years, districts and qualities.  The aim is to create the best possible balance between fruit, oak, alcohol and spices.

The general rule for cognac is «the older, the better».  The clock stops running at the switch from cask to bottle, however.  Once the cognac is bottled, it stops developing.  Cognac in oak is a drink in development.  Cognac in glass is a substance that is regarded as dead, but what a way to go!

Cognac ages and grades are regulated by the French agricultural authorities.  Right up until the 19th century the system was no more advanced that to apply the generic «old», but now there is separate legislation to regulate matters and it is no good lying about age….

2 Years VS (Very Special), * * * or Tre Kors
4 Years VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale)
6 Years XO (Extra Old)

The grade of a cognac is always determined by the youngest cognac in the blend.  If 99% of the contents are 100 years old and a small proportion is four-year-old cognac, the whole bottle must, by definition, be four years old and so can be graded no higher than VSOP.