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What do you think is the most important criteria to choose your Cognac?

7 July 2012 No Comment

On the Cognac Fans Linkedin, the biggest Linkedin account about Cognac,  a very interesting question/poll was published by Alexandre.

The question wasWhat do you think is the most important criteria to choose your Cognac?

In this article I placed some quotes about the conversation that was started by this question.

Peter Bowyer:  I would have added another question to the list – Reviews. The list above are all relevant factors but none, on their own, can give the buyer much help apart from medal successes – but then many of the smaller growers don’t enter tasting competitions because the cost of entering these is high – and therefore many fine cognacs might be ignored.

The region is important but there are many fine cognacs from other than the Champagnes. Age is virtually impossible to decipher and a much abused factor from the larger houses who will imply that a cognac is old just because it has spent some unspecified time in an old cask – Louis XIII Black Pearl anyone? I point to the same with regard to price.

If you like a certain house style then this going to help you but actually hearing what experts think about a particular spirit is probably the best way of helping to decide whether or not it is one for your drinks’ cabinet. Everything else is somewhat nebulous and easily manipulated by the marketing men who will entice you to buy their product over the competition without any real hard evidence to support whether or not it might be a more suitable product for you. The packaging and bottle etc are all irrelevant to the contents inside them but often this is all that the buyer has on which to base his choice.

Yes, I am fiercely cynical, but in this world such a stance always serves one well!

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Alexandre: Peter this is a fair point. Many fine Cognac from smalls houses have all the qualities of the big house but because of lack of marketing knowledge/budget they can not have the deserved recognition.
However, I suppose that, this low brand awareness is part of the charm of this small growers: you have the feeling to discover a gold nugget !

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Peter Bowyer:  I have discovered plenty of these gold nuggets and keep finding more! The harder I look the more I find and this is the joy of having so many small producers to search through. However I believe that the sad reality is that many of them will fail with their own brands in the long term and the small rewards they get from the big houses for their eaux-de-vie is not enough to keep some of them producing eaux-de-vie for the longer term.

Any one who likes cognac should seek out the small producers’ products; they are all different from each other and even my suggestion of following reviews is not a guarantee that you will find them to be completely to your taste, however I don’t think anyone will be disappointed with any of them, and with each new one you will experience something different and learn a little more about the wonders of cognac. But plese keep searching, keep these artisanal products flowing and help their creators stay in business!

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Yann: However, when choosing my Cognac, I can only go by testing it… whatever the product, if the vines were taken care of, if the mou is well distilled, and the maitre de chais passionate about his product, you will get a good Cognac. But hey, I am lucky, I live in the area!!! 🙂

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Peter Bowyer: Yann is absolutely right. Go to the Cognac region and pick up the Etapes du Cognac leaflet which gives details of a large number of smaller growers who are happy to let you taste their products before you buy. We go every year, I can’t really think of a better way to spend a holiday in lovely countryside, wonderful people and going round sipping extraordinary cognacs…

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Alexandre: But that is not possible for everybody to have this privilege.. For example most of the Chinese people dont have any Cognac knowledge and value in their decision making the price which they assume is a tangible sign of quality.

However going to the producer and taste is for sure a more authentic way to choose our Cognac ! Very unique experience!

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Jorgen: But the Chinese peoples/customers have no idea’s they have to drink, and they don’t drink the Cognac like “the west” peoples, the do it to the supper.
There look for the famous name and not for the quality.

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Peter Bowyer: Alexandre and Jorgen – you are both 100% correct. This is well known by the major cognac houses who sell a very high proportion of their most expensive cognacs to the Far Eastern Markets, China in particular. The big houses manipulate and exploit the lack of knowledge and also utilise the Chinese principle of “Face” to maximise their profits in this market.

In China it is effectively an insult to your guests if you don’t offer to buy them the most expensive item that you can afford – the actual quality of that item is irrelevant. Unkind soles might suggest that many Chinese people who drink these very expensively priced cognacs couldn’t tell the difference between them and something else any way, but for the Chinese that is not usually the point. They are buying the most expensive product that they can afford, and that is what makes them “good hosts” in their guests’ eyes.

I suppose we can be thankful that, for the time being, the Chinese are only buying the big named brands and leaving all of the really good cognacs for those of us who can tell the difference…

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We are very interested in you opinion about this question, please comment below or fill in the poll. Thanks!

What do you think is the most important criteria to choose your Cognac?

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