Simply put, Cognac is the Champagne of brandies. Or you could say Champagne is the Cognac of wines. They are both produced exclusively in France, and both must meet strenuous requirements in order to be called Champagne or Cognac. I have never been overly impressed with Champagne, but I love Cognac. It really is liquid gold. According to French Law, in order to bear the name, Cognac must meet strenuous legal requirements, ensuring that the 300-year old production process remains unchanged. It must be made from at least 90% Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, or Colombard grapes, although Ugni Blanc, specifically Saint-Emilion grapes, are today virtually the exclusive variety used. The remainder may consist of the grape varieties Folignan, Jurançon blanc, Meslier St-François (also called Blanc Ramé), Sélect, Montils, and Sémillon, It must be distilled twice in copper pot stills and aged at least two years in French oak barrels, most commonly from oak shipped from all over Europe but passing through the town of Limoges and for that reason called 'limousin' oak. ... Wikipedia
There are various grades of Cognac:
VS Very Special, or ✯✯✯ (three stars) where the youngest brandy is stored at least two years in cask.
VSOP Very Special (less commonly 'Superior') Old Pale, where the youngest brandy is stored at least four years in cask, but the average wood age is much older.
XO Extra Old, where the youngest brandy is stored at least six, but average upwards of 20 years.
I love Cognac, and I have some gorgeous brandy snifters and a little gizmo to heat the Cognac that my daughter gave me for Christmas one year. There is nothing nicer than a warm snifter of Cognac on a cold winter evening, in front of the fireplace. And needless to say, Cognac can be rather expensive, but worth the price. So, when I saw this video on CTV News this morning, I almost fell of my chair laughing. Let it be a warning, never, ever drink and drive, especially in a warehouse full of expensive French Cognac.
The driver of the forklift was drunk, and he wasn't hurt, but oh, the horror, the horror...