Tasting Notes: Overflowing with rich vanilla pod, dark coffee and hazelnut.
Cognac Lhéraud’s vines are planted to Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche and Colombard; the last two varieties were grown more prevalently in the past, but became susceptible to different vine diseases and, over time, were replaced by Ugni Blanc. Today, Cognac Lhéraud is one of the few distilleries that produces cognacs using a blend of all three varieties.
Unlike most of the world’s other brandies, cognac is produced by the double distillation of a high-acid white wine. Good cognac must begin with a good wine, such as that made from the Lhéraud family’s vineyards. Lhéraud’s cognacs are made in a traditional alembic copper-pot still. Distillation begins in December, after the second fermentation, and is done by hand, without electronic controls or devices. The choices made during distillation — gentle or strong heating, where to make “la coupe,” or “the cut,” separating the first and last distillate from “le coeur,” or “the heart” — all greatly affect the eaux de vie.
Lhéraud cognacs are aged in Limousin and Tronçais oak barrels, some for decades. Young cognacs are put into new barrels for a few years, which impart oaky flavors; after this period, the cognacs are transferred into older barrels for longer and proper aging. Over time, the water in the brandy evaporates, as does the alcohol; between 2 and 5 percent of pure alcohol, called the angels’ share, evaporates from each barrel each year. Throughout the process of evaporation and concentration, the brandy is also acted on by oxygen, causing the brandy to soften and become more fragrant, as well as take on a rich brownish amber color.