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.

 

Comments (4)

  1. stephen Howell July 12, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    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 January 23, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    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.

  3. […] En 1994, c’est par raison personnelle [ou folie passagère] que Sabine et Bertrand de Witasse ont choisi de quitter Paris pour devenir viticulteurs en Charente. Aujourd’hui, le couple exploite 20ha de vignes sur la commune d’Angeac-Champagne au cœur du cru prestigieux de la Grande Champagne. […]

  4. Hoke Harden February 24, 2016 at 1:38 am

    Well, “Champagne” in the French is derived from the Roman Latin root from which we also get “Campagna” in Italy, “campaign”, and both Cognac AOC Champagne and sparkling AOC Champagne.

    When the Roman legions, essentially a heavy infantry army, marched,they preferred for obvious reasons to battle in open, lightly wooded areas that were relatively flat or gently rolling, so they could maneuver appropriately. These coincided, quite often with areas that had a surface and subsurface of limestone and chalk (decalcified limestone/sedimentary soil). The Romans called these areas ‘campagna”. Both Cognac and much of Champagne fit the description. Hence, the best, most prized, areas for grapes in Cognac, as in Champagne, are the “campagna”—the open, unforested areas (easier to clear and plant) on limestone/chalk soil (difficult for other crops to grow but ideal for wine grapes)! It is for the same reason that the outlying areas of Fin Bois and Bon Bois are named—less open space and more sandy soils with increasing forests making farming more difficult resulted in “Fin Bois–fine woods” and “Bon Bois–merely good woods”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *