Pinot Noir, Cognac

Pinot Noir is a red grape that is one of the most challenging to grow in any part of the world. Due to its thin skin and tight bunches, it is susceptible to both mould and disease. However, when it is successful, it produces some of the most amazing wines in the world. Although its home is Burgundy, it has emerged as a popular variety in Australia. Representing only 1% of grapes crushed, it has built a high profile with a number of world-class, distinctly Australian wines being produced. The greatest examples coming from the cool climates of the Adelaide Hills, Tasmania, Mornington Peninsula, Geelong and the Yarra Valley.

Pinot Noir performs well on the deepish limestone based subsoils that are found on Burgundy's Côte d'Or. However, yields need to be kept in check. Pinot Noir's concentration and varietal characters disappear rapidly if yields are excessive. Some of the best and most expensive wines in the world are still found in Burgundy.

Pinot Noir also plays a key role in Champagne, being blended with Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. In the US, Oregon and Washington state are producing outstanding wines. In New Zealand, great Pinot Noirs are crafted in Martinborough and in Central Otago, New Zealand's only true continental climate.

The thin skins of Pinot Noir mean the wines are lighter in colour, body and tannins. However, the best wines have grippy tannins, fragrance and an intensity of fruit seldom found in wine from other grapes. Young Pinot Noir can smell almost sweet, but as it matures, the best wines develop a sensuous, silky mouthfeel with the fruit flavours deepening and gamey nuances emerging.
Cognac is named after the town of Cognac in France and is a variety of brandy. It is produced in the wine-growing region surrounding the town from which it takes its name. Ugni Blanc, which is known locally as Saint-Emilion, is the one most commonly used grape to produce Cognac. The region is divided in to six zones, Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Bordeies, Fins Bois, Bon Bois and lastly Bois Ordinaire, not to be confused with Champagne, the premier sparkling wine region in north east France.

Strict guidelines must be followed for a distilled brandy to be legally labelled as a Cognac by the Appellation d’origine contrôlée. Only specific grapes are allowed to be used, of which Ugni Blanc is the most common. The brandy must be distilled twice in copper pot stills and aged for a minimum of 24 months in French oak barrels from Limousis or Tronçais.

Blending is very common in Cognacs, and the age is derived from the age of the youngest grapes used in the blend. Cognacs develop and age in a similar way to Scotch Whiskies, though most Cognacs can age much longer than the legal requirement due to the time spent in the French oak barrels.
You might also like to view our wide range of Armagnacs
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