We often talk about the importance of terroir (AKA growth region or cru) when it comes to the taste and profile of a Cognac. But do you ever consider the type of grape it’s made from? To be honest, you’ll be forgiven for it not to, especially as an incredible 98% of all Cognac production is made from a single grape—the Ugni Blanc. But this is set to change as the spotlight swings to focus on traditional, almost forgotten, grapes varieties, such as the Folle Blanche, Montils, and Colombard.
These lesser-heard-of grapes for Cognac production are highlighted in the new selection brought to us courtesy of the house of Godet.
Grapes: The Building Blocks of Eau-de-Vie
To understand the raison-d’etre behind this range from Godet Cognac we first need to know a little about the history of grape growing in the region. Before 1875, most Cognac vineyards were planted with Folle Blanche, Colombard, and Montils grape varieties. Until, that is, they were decimated by a tiny pest called Phylloxera vastartrix. Discover more about this disaster in our blog article, Pre-Phylloxera Cognac: How a tiny insect caused a monumental difference.
To prevent the chances of this happening again in the future, virtually the whole region was re-planted with a grape variety that was far more resistant to such an event—the Ugni Blanc.
While this, of course, gave the farmers and winegrowers the much needed confidence that such a calamity would not occur again, it also robbed the industry of the versatility and taste that the alternative grape varieties brought. Today it’s rare to see Cognacs that contain any proportion of Folle Blanche, Colombard, or Montils eau-de-vie, let alone be made from 100% of any of them.
However, the long-lost craft of producing these traditional grape varieties has been brought back to life by the Godet family, who’ve been working for many years to replant their vines with these rarities. And now the fruits of their labors has come to pass with the launch of their Rare Godet Single Grape Selection.
1. Godet Single-Grape “Folle Blanche” Rare Cognac
Perhaps the most famous of the forgotten grape varieties, the Folle Blanche is a high-maintenance vine. However, once tasted you’ll realize why those in the know have been buying up pre-phylloxera Cognacs with a vengeance.
Intense, floral, with hints of chocolate and a sweet finish, it’s now possible to enjoy the rare taste of the Folle Blanche grape without having to spend thousands (maybe tens of thousands) of dollars on a Cognac that was produced centuries in the past.
Over recent years there’s been an increased desire to taste these Cognacs of yesteryear. When you understand that less than 1% of vines in the region are made up of Folle Blanche grapes, you can begin to appreciate how rare such Cognacs are to find. Now, the launch of this Godet range make it possible for us all to indulge and luxuriate in the taste experience that our ancestors over the centuries also enjoyed.
2. Godet Single-Grape “Colombard” Rare Cognac
This Colombard single grape offering (the Colombard is also known as the French Colombard in the US) is another rare-to-find variety in the production of Cognac. In exactly the same manner as that of the Folle Blanche, it’s been rarely cultivated since the phylloxera disaster. It’s one of the old grape varieties in the whole of the Charente, and is known for its powerful aromas and high acidity.
The overriding taste profile of the Godet Colombard is that of dark, bitter chocolate. Masculine in character, it offers a superbly dark and intense experience from the moment its smoky aromatic tendrils tease your olfactory receptors.
3. Godet Single-Grape “Montils” Rare Cognac
Montils are a very interesting grape—one that’s more commonly used for creating Pineau des Charentes, as opposed to Cognac. This makes the Godet Montils a Cognac of particular interest for those who love to discover the different nuances grape varieties bring to the finished products.
Golden in color, the honeyed tones tantalize the nose with a distinctly vanilla profile. This continues on the palate, evolving into brioche and toffee tones—definitely a Cognac with a distinctive character of its own.
Godet Single-Grape Ugni Blanc Rare Cognac
To round off the series it makes perfect sense that Godet has also brought an Ugni Blanc variety to market. As we’ve already said, this grape is the most commonly used in Cognac production today, but it rounds off the selection really well. A must-have if you plan to compare and contrast the four different types of grapes.
The Ugni Blanc expression boasts almonds, tobacco, Jasmin, and yellow fruits, and is a great example that profiles how sweet and mellow the eau-de-vie from this hardy grape variety can be.
Godet Cognac: A House With a History
Godet is one of the oldest houses in the region, boasting over 14 generations of expertise spanning 400 years. For the past two generations they’ve dedicated a huge amount of effort into the cultivation of these “lost” Cognac grapes.
Today’s team, led by Jean Jacques Godet, has been responsible for innovative products such as Antarctica Godet, a clear colored Cognac released in 2008. Not only was this a breakthrough product for its color, but it was also one of the first 100% Folle Blanche Cognacs brought to the mainstream market in current times.
Discover more about the delights of Godet Cognac, a house that came into being in 1782 and remains at the forefront of Cognac innovation today.