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What is Rancio Charantais?

21 November 2012 No Comment

Rancio is a Spanish / Portuguese term that describes the peak of refinement in aromas & flavours to describe the various characteristics of port wine during their ageing.

After ageing cognac for many years, certain aromas reach their peak and cognacs with rancio qualities usually fetch a high price. Rancio Charantais is used to describe the rancio in Cognac.


The definition of rancio is very complicated, many Cognac producers struggle when it comes to explaining the term. It is very difficult to describe the taste. Many Cognac-experts will describe the taste as nutty or cheesy. The aroma’s are to be recognized on the tongue and finishes with a walnut like oiliness. Personally I find the taste very special, with the taste of mushrooms ,walnuts and soy sauce, also some earthy hints could be recognized.
Below is the rancio chart for better illustration.


First Rancio stage: 10 to 15 years
Peak of vanilla and oak taste, Flowery, dried rose, nutty, spicy

Second Rancio stage: 17 to 22 years
Jasmine, Chocolate, Dried, candied fruit, curry, saffron, ginger

Third Rancio stage: 30 to 40 years
old tawny port, cedar, eucalyptus, cigar box, tobacco, old muscat wine, nutmeg

Fourth Rancio stage: 50 to 60 years
tropical fruits, passion, lyche wood scents: sandal wood

The Rancio Charantais is compounded and changed through the four stages. For instance the vanilla oak in R1 stays throughout but is mellowed and turned into cigar box, cedar and finally sandal wood in R4.

Note that rancio aromas do stack with age.  Some cognac connoisseur will comment that the peak of cognac maturity ends at 50+ years.  However this opinion may not be conclusive enough to cover all angles and the cognac exploration continues.

The olfactory analysis according to Cognac Forgeron:

During its ageing, cognac is the seat of various physicochemical phenomenons. For the eaux-de-vie of cognac, those transformations become quite noticeable from 12 years of ageing onwards and are referred to as rancio charentais.

Year 0: slightly ethereal, flowers (lime tree, vine, rose, violet, lavender), plants (dry hay, dry vine shoots), fruit (pear, apricot, peach, apple)
Year 1: the first oak wood smell to be noticed is that of vanillin if the barrel is made of oak from Limousin
Year 5: a woody smell adds up to the vanilla fragrance
Year 10: woody fragrances develop
Year 15: phase 1 of the rancio charentais (touches of vanilla, wood, dry rose, hazelnut, walnut, almond, cinnamon, clove)
Year 25: phase 1 of the rancio charentais and 2 (jasmine, honeysuckle, cocoa powder, crystallized fruits, saffron, gingerbread)
Year 40: phase 1, 2 of the rancio charentais and 3 (cedar wood, tobacco, curry, nutmeg)

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