Cognac’s growth areas and vineyards

The Cognac region in southwest France is made up of the departments of Charente and Charente Maritime, and a few communes in Dordogne and Deux-Sevres.
By French standards Cognac is quite a small town.

It lies on the River Charente in the southwest of the country in everyone’s idea of idyllic French countryside. Cognac has been in continuous production there virtually since time immemorial, apart from the period around 1875, when phylloxera (the vine louse) devastated many of France’s vineyards.

The Cognac region is divided into six growth areas on the basis of quality and soil: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois and Bois Ordinaires – in order of quality.
Bache-Gabrielsen only uses the four most important:
Grande Champagne: the heart of Cognac. The soil is very chalky. Cognac from this zone is light with a distinctive floral character. Its superior subtlety of both flavour and aroma means that it takes a good deal longer to mature than cognac from the other zones. Generally only available in XO grade and above.
Petite Champagne: soil slightly less chalky. Slightly quicker to mature. Cognacs blended from Grande and Petite Champagne are called Fine Champagne (with Fine being pronounced the French way) if the blend contains at least 50% Grande Champagne.
Borderies: the smallest of the six areas. Less chalky than the two previous zones. It has its very own microclimate, which produces fine, rounded cognacs with a hint of violets and crushed nuts in the aroma. Generally used to give blends complexity.
Fins Bois: the largest area, which surrounds the previous three. Less chalky, more clayey. The raw material for 40% of all cognac (mainly VS and VSOP) comes from there. Soft, rounded cognacs with a summery character of fruit and grapes.