The white wines used to make wine spirit are made from the following grape varieties :
- colombard B, folle blanche B, montils B, ugni blanc B, sémillon B.
- folignan B (no more than 10% of total grape varieties)
Minimum of 2,200 vines per hectare.
Maximum 3.5 metres between vine rows.
Pruning is mandatory every year. All methods are authorised.
Number of fruit buds per hectare
The number of fruit buds is limited to 80,000 per hectare.
First authorised crop of young vines
To be entitled to the appellation d’origine contrôlée “Cognac”, wines distilled to make wine spirits must be produced from vines no younger than two years after the year in which they were planted, which must be before the 31st of July.
Pieds morts ou manquants
Le pourcentage maximum de pieds morts ou manquants est fixé à 20 % pour les parcelles dont la densité de référence est inférieure ou égale à 2 500 pieds par hectare.
Pour les parcelles dont la densité de référence est supérieure à 2 500 pieds par hectare et inférieure ou égale à 2 900 pieds par hectare, le taux est de 25 %.
Pour les parcelles dont la densité de référence est supérieure à 2 900 pieds par hectare, le taux est de 35 %.
Le calcul du pourcentage de pieds morts ou manquants est effectué à partir du rapport entre le nombre de pieds morts ou manquants sur une parcelle et le nombre de pieds présents lors de la mise en place ou lors de la transformation de ladite parcelle.
The maximum authorised annual yield of wine spirit expressed in pure alcohol is set each year by interministerial decree, based on proposals submitted by the relevant National Comité, after consulting with the organisme de défense et de gestion (body that manages and protects the appellation).
This maximum yield can be no greater than 16 hectolitres of pure alcohol per hectare.
The maximum annual yield can be increased, in certain instances, by a certain volume. However, any quantity that exceeds the 16 hectolitres per hectare limit cannot be aged.
Yields in excess of the authorised annual yield are not entitled to the Cognac appellation. They are to be processed according to article D.664 of the rural code.
The use of centrifugal vane-type pumps is forbidden to move grapes.
Producing grape must
The use of winepress with an Archimedes screw, otherwise known as a continuous press, is
The addition of sugar by any means is forbidden.
The use of sulphur dioxide is forbidden during fermentation.
Analytical criteria for the product to be distilled
At the time they are to be distilled, wines wines must have a minimum alcoholic degree of 7% and a maximum alcoholic degree of 12%. Their volatile acidity content must be equal to or less than 12.25 milliequivalents per litre.
Double distillation must be completed no later than 31 March of the year following the vintage.
- Distillation principle
Discontinuous double distillation : only spirits obtained from the double distillation of wines from the most recent vintage are entitled to the appellation d’origine contrôlée “Cognac”.
- Description of equipment
Composition of the “Charentais” still : a boiler heated over an open flame, a head just above and a swan’s neck condenser, without or without a preheater and a tank with a cooling coil.
Parts of the pot still are required to be made of copper : the boiler, the head, the swan’s neck and the coil.
The total capacity of the boiler must not exceed 30 hl ( with a 5% tolerance) and the volume is limited to 25 hl (with a 5% tolerance) per distillation.
However, boilers of greater capacity (up to 140 hl for a maximum of 120 hl of liquid, with a tolerance of 5%) are allowed on condition that they are used exclusively for the première chauffe (first distillation) in order to obtain a brouillis, or initial distillate.
Form of heating: over an open flame.
Maximum alcohol content by volume after distillation
After double distillation, the alcoholic degree of the wine spirit in the recipient which collects the wine spirit every day must not exceed 72.4% abv. at 20°C.
Distillation when changing from one cru to another
The word “crus” refers to geographic sub-divisions of the Cognac appellation as defined in point C-2 of specifications for the appellation (please see: Definition of geographic regions => Complementary geographic denominations).
The word “flegmes” (encompassing “heads”, “tails” and “seconds”) describes the distillate from the beginning and end of the distillation process which is not allowed to be sold under the name of Cognac.
Before stopping the distillation of wine from one cru and changing over to another, the last wine spirit from the second distillation of the first cru is limited to a maximum of 30% of the still’s capacity. The flegmes from this second distillation of the first cru may be diluted in the subsequent cru either by incorporation into the brouillis, or by re-distillation with the wine from the second cru, so long as they do not constitute more than 8% abv.
Wine spirits for direct human consumption are aged in wooden receptacles for at least two years in the region of production defined in point C) 1° of EU regulation (Definition of the production area).
Les conditions de vieillissement sont fixées par arrêté des ministres chargés de l’Economie, du Budget et de l’Agriculture.
Colouring (as allowed in the EU definition of wine spirits), the addition of oak chip infusions, as well as rounding by the use of products defined in point 3 of schedule 1 of EU regulation no. 110/2008 dated 15 January 2008, are authorised, so long as their effect on the wine spirit is less than or equal to 4° obscuration. Obscuration, expressed in degrees, is obtained by measuring the difference between the alcoholic strength by volume and the real alcoholic strength.
Compte tenu de l’évolution de la réglementation, des mesures transitoires sont prises concernant la conduite du vignoble (densité, écartement), l’encépagement, le vieillissement minimal dans l’aire géographique et les pieds morts ou manquants (détail dans le cahier des charges).
The name Cognac can be used without the words appellation contrôlée if it is not associated with any other geographical complementary denomination.More details in the following sections : Vineyard, Harvest, Vinification, Distillation, Ageing and Blending