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Very Old Cognac

The dreaded Phylloxera vastatrix louse, a tiny yellow bug which feasts off the roots of vines became prevalent around 1872-4, destroying not just the cognac vines but those all across Europe. Before the Phylloxera most of the vines were the Folle (Folle Blanche), but after much work in America a resistant variety of root was discovered to which the Ugni Blanc, a bland non descriptive, acidic grape variety was grafted onto. Cognacs made in the 18th and early 19th centuries usually exhibited drier and more organic flavours as a result of not just the grape variety but also the different distiller’s methods of distillation and ageing.

There are of course many rare and sought after vintages. In the UK we tend to look for specific ages such as 1805, famous for the Battle of Trafalgar and 1815 for the Battle of Waterloo. The Russians and French celebrate the Battle of Borodino in 1812, both sides claim victory and probably the Americans might celebrate the American Revolution at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. Whatever the vintage of these old cognacs, one thing is certain, the older and rarer they become, the more expensive they are. Some very rare cognac bottles are today approaching £100,000 or more, and the less of them that are available the more expensive they will become.

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