The Cognac region is seperated into six regions, called ‘Cru’. Only here is one authorised to produce Cognac. The six crus cover the Charente-Maritime, a large part of the Charente and some smaller teritorries of Deux-Sèvres and the famous Dordogne.
The 6 Crus of the Cognac Region
The AOC Cognac (Appellation d’Origine Controlée Cognac) totals about 79000 ha (equals 790.000.000 square meters) of vineyards. Right after the Bordeaux AOC it is the biggest wine-growing region in France.
The area of Cognac consists of six different zones, which are situated around the town of Cognac. The zones are called “Cru” and are defined by their soil quality: 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.
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.
|Grande Champagne||34 700 ha / 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|
If 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.