How to read a Cognac label?
A Cognac can be identified by its label. You will find several different expressions and terms on an “etiquette”.
Terms which must be on the label:
The name: Cognac, Eau-de-vie de Cognac or Eau-de-vie des Charentes
The volume: The standard is 0,7 or 0,75 L
The ABV, which must be at least at 40%
The origin of the grapes that were used for the wine, which again gets used for distilling, called appellation. There are 6 major regional appellations in the Cognac region: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Fins Bois, Bons Bois and Bois Ordinaire.
See also our article, the 6 Cognac zones.
See the article about the different quality and age grades, here.
How is that all controlled?
By an organization called BNIC – the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac. The BNIC’s function is to lobby, communicate and promote the Charente product in France and basically everywhere. They also control quality and set certain standards.
Vintage and millésimes Cognacs: There are Single Estate Cognacs, but it’s rather rare. It means that the eaux-de-vie are coming from one single harvest. The date on the label indicates the date of the harvest of the grapes. If you want to know what kind of grapes are used, read this article.
Other words mentioned on a label
Mis en bouteille a la propriété – or – au chateau: That means that the bottling took place at the property itself or the mansion.
Premier Cru: Is related to the Grande Champagne Cru, as it is considered the best and also most expensive Cru (appellation) in the Cognac region.
Often the name of the import company is printed on the label.