The 6 Crus of Cognac: Growth Area and Region

The Cognac region consists of six vineyard growth areas, called ‘Crus’. The grapes used for Cognac brandy must always come from this French region. The area covers the Charente-Maritime, a large part of the Charente and some smaller parts of Deux-Sèvres and the famous Dordogne.

The “Origine Controlée Cognac” (AOC) Cognac is an Appellation that totals about 79,000 hectares of vineyards (that’s 790 million square meters). The wine region of Cognac is the second biggest of France, right after the wine region of Bordeaux.

The 6 Crus of the Cognac Region

The area of Cognac consists of six different zones, which are situated around the town of Cognac: The Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois (we live at the border Bons Bois to Fin Bois) and Bois Ordinaires.

 

The Petite and Grande Champagne regions in Cognac should not be confused with the famous region of Champagne, which is situated in the north of France. The Champagne wine region is producing sparkling wine. Basically the word Champagne is a deriviation of the French term for chalky soil.

Cognac vineyards

So basically this is the difference between the “crus”. But one must really say that the soils differ a lot, they can be extremely sandy and only 700 meters further away suddenly really chalky. There is a whole history about the “terroirs” going back to the stone and ice age.

Growth Area / Cru Size Characteristics
Grande Champagne 34 700 hectares / 13 250 ha covered with vineyards Quite some hills, a chalk soil
Petite Champagne 65 600 ha / 15 250 ha covered with vineyards Chalky but more compact than the Grande Champagne
Borderies 12 500 ha / 4 000 ha covered with vineyards It’s a plateau with clay and flint stones
Fins Bois 350 000 ha / 31 200 ha covered with vineyards Mixed soil: red, clay and limestone
Bons Bois 370 000 ha / 9 300 ha covered with vineyards Very mixed soils, clay, limestone, sands
Bois Ordinaires 260 000 ha / 1066 ha covered with vineyards Mainly sand soils, including islands Ile de Ré and Ile d’Oléron

 

When a Cognac is produced, it’s often blended with eaux-de-vie from different crus. E.g. Grande Champagne, Borderies and Fins Bois. Of course, a merchant would never pay the price for eaux-de-vie that originate from the Bons Bois, if he would pay for a Grande Champagne spirit instead.

A Cognac blend which consists of Grande and Petite Champagne Cognacs (with at least 50%  from Grande Champagne) is considered as Fine Champagne.

Every “Cru” stands for a different fragrance such as  flowers, green fruits (apple, pear), grapes and others. Of course the distillation process has a certain impact on the Cognac.

 

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3 Responses

#1 stephen Howell on Jul 12, 2011, says:

hello,

glad to find your little blog here when i was after some info.
i work in a fine wine store in Australia and i recently attended a tasting for Hennessy cognac, conducted by their brand manager. he mentioned the history of the word Champagne meaning “open country”, which is apparently what Champagne and Cognac have in common. I’m sure its quite possible that both are correct.

thank you for the nice blog!

Stephen

#2 R.Robot on Jan 23, 2012, says:

Stephen, I’ve heard a slightly different version.
This is what I have in my notes:
Derived from the Latin “campus” ”campagna”, old French word for “country side”: where one can set up a camp and/or start cultivating.

We need a time machine to solve this mystery.

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