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The Land and The Vines Part 2 – The Vines

By the turn of the 19th Century, Ugni Blanc had replaced Folle Blanch and Colombard as the most widely used grape for producing Cognac. Grafted onto a new rootstock it helped the Cognaçaise rebuild their industry after the Phylloxera outbreak. At about the same time producers started to plant their vines in rows, rather than the uneven bush planting method used previously, and a greater concentration of vines per hectare was achieved. More recently this has enabled the use of grape-picking machines and with careful pruning the vines, which are now grown on wires, reach a height of 1.2 – 1.5m. Although vine planting is controlled, at a maximum of 3000 per hectare, recent improvements in viniculture have seen the level of alcohol per hectare produced significantly increase. However, weather is still the biggest factor in determining the quality of the harvest and thankfully for the last 20 years it has been pretty good.  A great recent vintage to demonstrate the quality is Hermitage 2005 Cognac; try it you won’t be disappointed.