Most people associated with cognac are aware that we make it principally with a single grape variety, the Ugni Blanc. Indeed, more than 80% of all cognacs are made only with this grape. However, few people are aware that this is probably the world’s most widely planted grape due largely to its big harvests and reliability against disease and adverse weather conditions. It produces fresh, fruity, very acidic and quite unremarkable wines often used as a base wine in blends. The Ugni Blanc is also known in France as the St Emellion du Charente but in the rest of Europe it is best known as the Trebbiano Toscano.
The Colombard is perhaps one of the more interesting grapes also used in cognac production. It was originally planted in South Africa and known as Colombar and is an offspring of the Chennin Blanc. Some of its many synonyms include Bardino Blanc, Bon Blanc, Chabrier Vert, Colombeau, Gros Blanc Roux, Red Tendre and Quene Vert.
The last remaining of the old varieties still used in cognac is the Folle Blanche. Today, it is only found in France in the regions of The Charente and Gascony but can also be found in Basque country under the name of Mune Mahatsa. It is, like the Ugni Blanc, acidic and quite unremarkable as a wine.
Although rarely seen these days, the other grape varieties that are permitted to be used in cognac production are Juranҫon, Blanc Ramé, Bouilleaux, Balzac Blanc and Chalosse.