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The Wonder of Ferrand

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It starts in our vineyards in the heart of the prestigious Grande Champagne, premier cru de cognac

I

THE HEART OF COGNAC

The terroir of Grande Champagne

Walk with us through our vineyards in the prestigious Grande Champagne region of Cognac and you’ll see what makes this place so special. The chalk and limestone land appears harsh and yet these vines and their grapes are full, bursting with life. This terroir is the reason for the world-renowned acclaim and particular elegance of Grande Champagne cognacs.

Cognac is comprised of six distinct regions, or “crus,” nested within each other, with Grande Champagne at its heart. Known as the “premier cru de cognac,” this is where our story begins with the birth of the first Elie Ferrand in the small town of Segonzac in 1630.

Tending our vines

Segonzac, home of Mademoiselle Manor and 10 generations of Elie Ferrands, lies in the middle of Grande Champagne, with vines stretching as far as the eye can see. Here, the illustrious Ferrand family tended their vines for centuries and today we carry on this time- honored tradition in taking care of our Grande Champagne vineyards.

Embracing the heritage of these enlightened farmers, we follow in their steps, working with the land to create a virtuous relationship between Ferrand and nature. In our vineyards we take unique steps to ensure soil regeneration with a limited use of pesticides. The rows between our vines are covered by grass, which helps with soil aeration and creates a mulch, naturally preventing the growth of weeds.

Wandering our vineyards, you might stumble upon one of our fluffy friends. These organic lawn mowers are our Shropshire sheep. We are trialling this environmentally- friendly method, in which the sheep add fertilizer and are less detrimental to soil compaction compared to a mechanical tractor. We put them out after harvest to keep the vineyard healthy during the winter and ready for next year’s growth. These practices keep our land healthy and productive for generations to come.

The magic of the grape

Ugni Blanc, the quintessential cognac grape, is known for its high acidity levels, which helps protect the wine until distillation. The eaux-de-vie of Grande Champagne Ugni Blanc grapes are characterized by their extreme finesse and are perfectly suited for long aging.

While Ugni Blanc might be the most well-known grape, being present in over 98% of the vineyards in Cognac, we experiment with other grape varieties as well. True to Ferrand nature, we do this with the goal of reviving historic techniques in wonderful and delicious ways.

This includes the Colombard grape, one of the oldest surviving grape varieties in the Cognac region, which we use in Ambré. Although it has a small yield, it produces lovely, more aromatic cognacs with floral, fruity notes.

While some choose to blend eau-de-vie with grapes from other Cognac regions, all Ferrand cognacs are 100% Grande Champagne grapes, a prestigious cru that makes the most revered and elegant cognacs.

II

From vine to elixir

The stars aligned

Perhaps it was fate. Elie Ferrand was born in 1630 in Segonzac, in the heart of the Grande Champagne region.This occurred right at the time when the novel invention of double distillation gave birth to cognac as we know today.

From here the stars aligned and Segonzac gave us nine more (a total of 10) generations of Ferrand sons, all named Elie, who through the centuries upheld the abiding knowledge of growing grapes and transforming them into exceptional elixirs through the innovative double distillation technique.

The fabled charentais pot still

Once our grapes are deemed to have reached peak perfection, they’re carefully harvested and transformed into wine. What follows is the ancestral technique of double distillation with two successive heatings in the 12harentais pot still. In this pot still, handcrafted from copper, cognac is produced, drop by drop, according to a very exacting method over an open flame as has been done for generations.

During the second distillation, the heart, the noblest part of the final distillate, is skillfully extracted. While most stop here, at Ferrand we apply a specific heat treatment for a brief moment just after capturing the heart in order to extract some of the aroma compounds of the final section of the distillate. With this technique, we pull out just a touch of this complexity to create a rounder, more fruit-forward spirit.

This elixir, while beautiful and full of character, is still missing a key element of an exceptional Ferrand cognac: its glowing amber hue and the aromas and flavors that come with aging in our timeless cellars.

III

Never-ending inventions

Enhancing the grape with grape

Ageing in barrels that previously held wine or an eau-de-vie de vin was once common practice, but this method was lost to time. When we came across it in our research, we were intrigued by the idea of using qualities of wines or eaux-de-vie de vin to enhance traits of cognac.

Our attempt to bring this method back to life gave us our luscious Double Cask Réserve. Benefitting from a second maturation in Banyuls barrels, we find nuanced rancio notes and a richness from the French sweet fortified wine. With this elixir, we revived the double ageing practice that, to our knowledge, was no longer being carried out in modern cognac production.

We have since experimented further with fruitful results, including our 10 Générations, a cognac that is partially aged in Sauternes barrels, bringing forward honey and floral notes from the French sweet wine.

Thinking outside of the oak barrel

We uncovered archives telling of another forgotten practice : wonderful cognacs born out of various wood barrels. A 1913 invoice from the desk of Elie Ferrand VIII reveals that he ordered local barrels made from chestnut. Digging deeper, a 1905 book by Fraser Sandeman recounts how brandy aged in chestnut casks left a “charming, velvety impression.”

Through our own experiments we found that chestnut lends beautiful tannins with sophisticated pastry notes and a long, sweet mouthfeel. And thus, Renegade N°2 Chestnut Barrel was born. As modern cognac regulations forbid the use of woods other than oak for aging cognac, this splendid spirit must be called an eau-de-vie de vin, but we believe it’s just as good as our other wonderful cognacs.

Where the angels take their share

While the eau-de-vie slumbers in its barrels we must carefully choose in which cellars this ageing takes place. Depending on what characteristics we want to accentuate in the cognac, we may let it evolve in a specific cellar or move it between the two cellars over time.

Our dry cellars have a humidity of 30-60% where evaporation results in a loss of water and alcohol content hardly changes. These eaux-de-vie are drier with more of a spice character. In contrast, our humid cellars naturally have 70-100% humidity where over time the angels’ share can cause alcohol content to drop noticeably. Resulting eaux-de vie from humid cellars are more mellow and round.

IV

A Shared Moment

Finally, when the grapes have been plucked from the vine, the wine has been distilled into a 100% Grande Champagne eau-de-vie, and the spirit has rested for years in its protective wood casks, it is time for the final step.

An art, rather than a science, the wonder of the assemblage is about a shared moment. A shared moment not just between the Master Blender and the eaux-de-vie, but a moment in which the Master Blender must consider how the resulting cognac will be shared, how it will be enjoyed by you, the imbiber, and our friends. In Cognac, blending is essential in creating a harmonious cognac, brought forth by the marriage of complementary qualities.

Singular moments of emotion

With this in mind, the goal is to add that last touch of character in a meaningful way that heightens the senses and provides a powerful experience that leaves a lasting impression. Since 1989, Ferrand Cognac owner and Master Blender Alexandre Gabriel has studied this delicate process of cognac blending in order to create these singular moments. With the goal of bringing forth emotion with each sip, he approaches cognac blending with the experience in mind, creating cognacs that are not just wonderful, but full of wonder.

This is no small feat; it is the result of constant research and experimentation because a Master Blender’s work is never done. Today, Alexandre is one of the Master Blenders with the longest tenure. Ferrand Cognac continues to pursue this mission of crafting one-of-a- kind cognacs to be shared and enjoyed both today and in generations to come.

Here’s to us

From vineyard to grape to wine to eau-de-vie to barrel to cellar to assemblage to bottle, this Ferrand Cognac is now whole. Imbued with passion, creativity, excitement, and curiosity, it is an ode not only to the past, and the future, but most importantly, the present.

As you open this(laquelle?) bottle, we welcome you to share a moment of pleasure with us. We hope that your experience is full of wonder and we raise our own glass to you. Now let us enjoy this(lequel?) delicious encounter with the world of Ferrand and all of its unexpected moments. Cheers!