30.11.2021 - 3 min

What makes a top cognac?

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    A cognac’s price is only one factor to consider

    ​Cognac is one of those quintessential French drinks. But what makes cognac so great – and how do you choose the best cognac for you?

    Maison Martell is renowned for the finesse and elegance of its cognacs.
    This is the result of a legacy of savoir-faire, handed down through nine generations of cellar masters.

    When looking for a good cognac, asking ‘How much does cognac cost?’ is not always the question for the answer you need.
    What is so special about cognac is that many top cognacs can be relatively inexpensive, if you know what you’re looking for – and we will assist you with that shortly.

    First though, let’s quickly revise how cognac is made, and what cognac is made from.

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    ​How cognac is made

    There are six demarcated terroirs in Cognac, of which Borderies, Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, and Fins Bois, are the most sought-after.
    Grapes from Borderies in particular produce eaux-de-vie with smooth and luscious aromas.

    Borderies has been Martell’s signature cru since its foundation, and defines the Martell style.
    After the grapes, distillation.
    In the traditional double distillation method, the wines pass through the still twice over, transforming clear wines into eaux-de-vie.

    Then comes ageing.
    Certain cognac houses, such as Maison Martell, use fine-grained oak barrels crafted from sustainable French forests up to 200 years old.

    Finally, the blending.
    A cognac is a blend of at least 2 eaux-de-vies, though certain blends contain several hundred. (If interested in developing your cognac appreciation, explore our ‘How to cognac’ video tutorials on this subject.)

    ​How to choose the best cognac

    The best cognac for you, really depends on you.
    A first taste of cognac If you are new to the world of cognac, any VSOP cognac would make for an elegant starting point.

    In terms of cognac grades, the VSOP means Very Superior Old Pale, and signifies the eaux-de-vie are aged for at least four years (compared to a VS, in which eaux-de-vie are aged at least two years).

    Martell VSOP is subtle, elegant, and balanced, and an authentic expression of the Martell style. Or try Martell Noblige. Unusually complex for a VSOP, Martell Noblige blends more than 100 eaux-de-vie from the finest terroirs in the Cognac region.

    ​Legendary cognacs from history

    If looking for more unique gifts, certain cognacs bear claim to a place in history.

    Created in 1912, this luscious and elegant cognac, a masterful blend of more than 100 eaux-de-vie, has been an icon ever since.
    No surprise this cognac was served on the maiden voyage of the Queen Mary, the world’s most luxurious transatlantic liner, and on the inaugural Concorde flight between Paris and New York.

    Cognacs for a special someone

    Cognac always makes a great gift for someone with everything. But sometimes you want to go that little bit extra.

    An extra old cognac is a blend of eaux-de-vie aged for at least 10 years.
    The best extra old cognacs, among the smoothest cognacs, are true objects of beauty to be cherished and savoured.

    Maison Martell has two excellent contenders for cognacs that sit atop of the range.

    Martell XO is the House’s signature interpretation of the prestigious Grande Champagne terroir, instantly identifiable for its intense taste and bold, contemporary design.

    In a separate category of cognac altogether, for an unprecedented combination of richness and complexity go no further than Martell Chanteloup XXO, a blend of 450 very old eaux-de-vie.

    (Need helping finding the perfect Martell cognac? Try our gift finder tool.)

    ​Top of the top

    Sometimes, what defines an exceptional cognac though, is simply the cognac itself.

    And L’Or de Jean Martell is indeed an exceptional cognac.

    L’Or de Jean Martell expresses the myriad nuances of over 700 rare and precious eaux-de-vie, some aged for more than a century in the famous Jean Martell cellar.
    Explore the collection of Maison Martell cognacs.

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