Hennessy VSOP and Hennessy XO are perhaps the best known cognacs in the world, but over the years the standards of these cognacs has not just slipped but plunged to depths unimaginable in the haze of cognac gloom. The barrel age of these onetime legendary cognacs is falling annually as the demand for them increases. Probably the biggest problem is that as the age of the cognac in the bottle reduces, the level of additives required to compensate for their fiery nature and light colour increases.
Hennessy’s problem is by no means unique. Indeed it is the problem with all the big negoçiants including Remy Martin, Martell and Courvoisier. There simply isn’t enough cognac being produced to supply the markets, especially those in China where growth is escalating at 20% or more a year. Demand for luxury cognacs is such that the Chinese are taking every opportunity to supply fake products in the market.
The biggest problem that we all have with high quality cognacs is the ageing process. Those that come from the top cru’s such as Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne can take up to 70 or 80 years to develop to their fullest in the barrel and that costs a lot of money and patience!
Cognac regulations say that VSOP cognacs must age for a minimum of 3 ½ years in their barrels whilst XO must be at least 6 ½ years old. At one time in the 1960’s and 70’s Hennessy XO was age in the barrel for around 25 years old and although additives were used, they were only used in small quantities. Today, Hennessy XO is estimated at being less than ten years old and falling annually - one wonders how long it will be before it reaches the legal minimum?
There are around 5000 cognac producers and some of the smaller family firms that have been making it for generations keep their aged cognacs, only selling them either under their own names or to smaller negoçiants who sell high quality single estate cognacs.
Hermitage Cognacs Limited are unique, offering naturally aged cognacs with age statements to customers who seek great quality and individual choices in age, strength and flavour. Hermitage cognacs offer cognacs from only the very finest distillers in the top cognac crus. That is why Hermitage Cognacs win many medals for what is regarded by many as the finest cognacs in the world.
Cognac Masters 2009 - Gold Award
Making cognacs suitable for drinking young is exceptionally difficult without the use of caramel and sugar syrup. The 2000 has succeeded where others have failed. Its style is consistent with others from Chez Richon with some pineapple, burnt almonds and mocha, a delight for such youthfulness.
Cognac Masters 2010 - Silver Award
Made on a 58 hectare estate in Jarnac Champagne owned by the Vallet Family for generations. The grapes are mainly Ugni Blanc but unusually it also has some Folle Blanche and Colombard. Aged for 10 years in oak barrels the aroma is predominantly apricots which comes out in the flavour along with vanilla, toffee and a little citrus.
Cognac Masters 2010 - Master Award
This cognac was specially prepared by the company's owner and is regarded as one of the finest from this small producer. There is a distinctive pineapple aroma and a richer pineapple, walnut and medlar fruit complexity on the palate. It's intense flavour is enhanced by the slightly higher strength. Very long on the palate.
Cognac Masters 2011 - Masters Award
This Grande Champagne cognac is probably one of the finest cognacs we have ever tasted. It is produced by a firm in the centre of cognac who produce from three vineyards in the very best parts of the cru. This exceptional vintage cognac is exclusively only available through Brandyclassics.
A magical fifty year old cognac that has matured in old casks in dark cellars for half a century. No wonder this is so good, it just oozes charm and is one of those bottles that is hard to put the cork back into. Lovely mocha and chocolatey flavours.