Tuesday, December 23, 2014

X is for XO Cognac

french village diaries alphabet advent calendar XO Cognac
French food alphabet advent calendar

Welcome to my French Food Alphabet Advent Calendar where I am working my way through a selection of delicious food posts; some are regional specialities, some are my personal favourite foods, some posts include recipes, but all are linked to French food and drink. I hope you are enjoying your virtual tastings.

It’s the 23rd December and X is for XO Cognac.
Living very close to the Cognac vineyards I felt I had to include this regional delight in my A to Z and as I was a bit short on foods beginning with X today seemed the perfect opportunity.

french village diaries cognac poitou charentes
Cognac aging in oak barrels
Cognac is a brandy produced within a strict geographical area around the town of Cognac in the Charente department. The producers harvest their grapes and make wine that is then distilled twice to become eau de vie. This is then aged in oak barrels for a minimum of two years before it can be bottled and sold as Cognac. In this time a small amount of the eau de vie evaporates from the barrels and is known as the angels’ share. 

Cognac is graded according to its age:
VS (Very Special) is the youngest and must be aged for a minimum of two years.
VSOP (Very Special Old Pale) has to be aged for a minimum of four years.
XO (Extra Old) or Napoleon is the oldest and must be aged for at least six years, although on average it will usually be around twenty years.

Like many locals we have our own preferred producer who is always happy to show us around his distillery and pour us a taste of his fine Pineau and Cognac. He told us that the most important thing for Cognac is the time spent aging in the oak barrels and he sells one that has been aged for seventy years. 

Don’t forget to pop back tomorrow for the letters Y and Z, my final advent post. If you have missed my previous posts you can catch up by clicking on the letters ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTU and V and W.