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The premier brand from Distillerie Tessendier

Cognac Park is the premier brand from Distillerie Tessendier, a Cognac house established in 1880. Today, in its fourth generation of family ownership, the distillery and vineyards are composed within an estate of more than 60 acres in the heart of one of the most exclusive growing areas of Cognac: The Borderies. Fourth-generation brothers and Master Blenders, Lilian and Jérôme Tessendier, expertly compose their blends with extreme attention to detail. The wines that are used in the distillation of Cognac Park come from four crus within the Cognac region: Grand Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, and Fins Bois. Each year, the Tessendier family distills its Cognacs from the 3,000 hectoliters of wine produced on its own estate and buys another 40,000 hectoliters from winemakers, maintaining relationships that span several generations.

Tessendier brothers tasting

Master Blenders

Tessendier brothers Jérôme and Lilian have an uncanny ability to translate Cognac to the clear and precise flavor profiles, creating clear, expressive, unadulterated Cognacs that speak to all people at an affordable price, while still using only the finest and most complex qualities of the spirit in the process.

Together they became the pioneers of the "made-to-measure" Cognac that today is known, quite simply, as craft cognac.

The style of the house is pure and elegant with an intense focus on terroir.

Jérôme and Lilian have a total of 14 aging cellars containing around 20,000 barrels.

Products

Region

The Six Crus of the Cognac Region

  • The six crus of the Cognac region are: 1) Grande Champagne, 2) Petite Champagne, 3) Borderies, 4) Fins Bois, 5) Bons Bois, and 6) Bois Ordinaires.
  • The Cognac production area was delineated by decree on May 1, 1909 and ratified by decree in 1938.
  • In the Cognac region, there are six different growth regions, referred to as the six crus . However, the word terroir is also commonly used to describe these regions.
  • This is because terroir actually means far more than its literal translation to land or soil, taking into account the geography and climatic conditions.
Six Crus of Cognac Region map
Grande Champagne
Petite Champagne
Borderies
Fins Bois
Bons Bois
Bois Ordinaires

Terroir has two main factors in Cognac:

  1. Geography

    The soil in each terroir is unique due to features like organic matter, mineral composition, grade, and drainage, that were impacted by geological episodes. It is the earth that nourishes the vines and gives life to the grapes. Because the soils are so different, so are the grapes that grow there and therefore the wine they produce.

  2. Climatic Conditions

    The Cognac region is commonly referred to as 'softly tempered,' with ample amounts of sunlight and sufficient rain, and an average annual temperature of 13.5°C (55°F). This microclimate, combined with the special soil, is considered ideal for high quality spirit-producing wines.

Soil Composition

The French geologist Henri Coquand first described the soil features of the six crus or terroirs in 1860. The Tessendier Distillery's vineyards are located in Borderies, but they work with grape growers in three other crus for the production of their wines.

Image credit: BNIC

Grande Champagne

Cognac Park Soil Composition - Champagne

Clay-like, chalky, thin soils on top of soft chalk formed during the Cretaceous period. The limestone content from the surface down is said to be in excess of 60% in some places. Montmorillonite clay provides fertile soil with good structure and a high water reserve. This cru produces lighter, floral cognacs that require long aging in casks to achieve full maturity, often reaching their full potential after decades.

Petite Champagne

Cognac Park Soil Composition - Champagne

It is generally regarded that the cognacs from Petite Champagne have equal potential as those from Grande Champagne but with a touch less finesse. With similar soil conditions to Grand Champagne, vine roots can penetrate more than 20 metres through the chalk, and the subsoil acts as a giant sponge through which water slowly rises during prolonged dry periods.

Borderies

Cognac Park Soil Composition - Borderies

The soil in the Borderies cru is composed of more clay and flint. These cognacs are generally nuttier and often have toffee flavors with tones of violets on the nose. They age somewhat quicker than those from the two Champagnes and can often be at their optimum quality in as little as 30 - 40 years.

Fins Bois

Cognac Park Soil Composition - Fins Bois

Fins Bois effectively surrounds the Champagnes and Borderies. Most of this area is covered by clay and chalk soils (known as groies) that are similar to the Champagnes. Lying in a lower area known as the Pays Bas, north of Cognac, the soil is heavy, 60% clay, leftover from the Jurassic period. Fins Bois soil also has a high sandy content. Vines are often dispersed, mixed with other crops and surrounded by forests of pine and chestnut. Modern, high volume cognac blends often contain substantial quantities of eaude-vie from Fins Bois.

Bons Bois

Cognac Park Soil Composition - Bons Bois

Vines are often dispersed, mixed with other crops and surrounded by forests of pine and chestnut. Like Fins Bois, the soil in Bons Bois is made up of heavy, clayey, chalky soil. The soil on the coast and in several valleys has eroded from the Massif Central and is sandy, especially in the southern vineyards. Modern cognac blends contain substantial quantities of Fins Bois and even some Bons Bois can be found in the bigger blends.

Bois Ordinaires

Cognac Park Soil Composition - Bois Ordinaires

Regarded as the lowest cru of the Cognac region. Here, the soil is almost exclusively sandy in an area that lies along the coast or on the islands of Ré and Oléron. The wine produces fast-aging eaux-de-vie with a characteristic maritime aroma and flavor profile. Much of the eaux-de-vie from these lands is used for blending in fruit liqueurs; the cognacs are unspectacular.

Cognac Park The Cognac AOC map

The Cognac AOC

The Appellation Origine Controlée (AOC) Cognac totals about 79,000 hectares of vineyards (that's 790 million square meters).

The wine region of Cognac is the second biggest of France, right after the wine region of Bordeaux.

The AOC rules and regulations have two main objectives:

  • to maintain the reputation and the high quality of cognac.
  • to ensure that production is maintained at a sustainable level.

Key features of the AOC Cognac:

  • Only six white grape varieties are allowed in Cognac production:
    • Ugni Blanc
    • Colombard
    • Folle Blanche
    • Montils
    • Sémillon
    • Folignan
  • The grapes must be in the delineated area in one of the six crus:
    • Grande Champagne
    • Petite Champagne
    • Borderies
    • Fins Bois
    • Bons Bois
    • Bois Ordinaires
  • Distillation is required to take place after harvest, when all the grape juice has fermented and turned into wine. This process has until the 31st of March, by AOC law.
  • The distilled wine, or eau-de-vie, must be matured in oak casks for at least two years, from the year following the harvest.
  • The aging may only take place within the appellation boundaries (effective since 2009).
  • Cognac has to be bottled at a minimum of 40% ABV.
Cognac Park The Charente River

The Charente River

The Charente river has been the most important means of transport for cognac for centuries. Throughout the past five centuries, barrels were loaded on wharfs of Jarnac and Cognac directly on board gabares towards Rochefort harbor, and then aboard much larger vessels to cross oceans.

Production Process

Cognac Park The Grapes

The Grapes

Why Ugni Blanc?

The only grape varietal used for wine production at the Tessendier family vineyards is Ugni Blanc, which is used in about 95% of all Cognac production

Ugni Blanc's characteristics such as high acidity, low alcohol and neutral flavor profile, makes it well-suited to the production of Cognac rather than wine.

The harvest takes place once the summer heat has faded, between the end of September and early October.

Cognac Park The Wine

The Wine

Once the grapes have been pressed, they ferment for five to seven days, with controlled yeast strains added to the batch to create alcohol.

Before distillation begins, a weak white wine with 9%-11% ABV is produced.

Each year, the Tessendier family produces 3,000 hl of wine from its own vineyards and buys 40,000 hl from winemakers, oftentimes working with the same growers for several generations.

Cognac Park The Stills

The Stills

Cognac Park uses the 'Charentais' distillation method, meaning that our Cognac is double-distilled in copper stills.

Distillation takes place after harvest, when all the grape juice has fermented and turned into wine. This process has until March 31, by AOC law.

The Charentais pot still ("alambic") has three main components:

  • Boiler or pot: Vessel holding the wine or brouillis;
  • Still head and swan's neck: Collect the vapors and rectify (filter) them, depending on the shape and volume of the piece (e.g. onion or olive shaped still heads);
  • Cooling tank and coil: Condense the vapors and regulate the temperature of the distillate.

The final product is separated into four parts: the head, the heart, the seconds, and the tails. Only the clear and pure liquid from the heart is used. This distilled spirit or "eau-de-vie" is ready for aging.

This full distillation process takes 24 hours to obtain a bright, clear, liquid heart of 70% ABV: ready to be aged into cognac.

Distillerie Tessendier & Fils owns six Charentais alembic copper stills located in the Jarnac area of the Cognac region. (1x100hl 5x25 hl)

Cognac Park The Distillery

The Distillery

The family's distillery is located in the small town of Jarnac, about 15 minutes from Cognac. It is the only distillery still active in the town of Jarnac.

First distillation = La première chauffe

One pot still with a capacity of 100 hectoliters is used to create the first distillation, which results in a distillate of about 30% known as the Brouillis. This first step is dedicated to the concentration of the alcohol.

Second distillation = La bonne chauffe

The Tessendier brothers own five Charentais copper alambic stills, all dedicated to the second distillation, and each with a capacity of 25 hl.

  • The eaux-de-vie can not exceed 72% at 20°C.
  • This step is dedicated to the "triage" and the concentration of the alcohol.

Distillerie Tessendier has been distilling eaux-de-vie for over 130 years.

Managing distillation is a technical process that is directed by the experience and personal sense of the distiller. They must always be mindful of the following elements:

  • Intensity of the fire
  • T° of the distillate cooling
  • Speed of the different parts of the process, which will refine the aromatic and elegance of the eau-de-vie
  • At Distillerie Tessendier, we always taste during the cut, because we cannot only rely on the alcometer.
Cognac Park Our Cellars

Our Cellars

Distillerie Tessendier owns 14 cellars, located in Jarnac and Cognac near the banks of the Charente River.

Seven of the cellars are humid and the other half are dry cellars.

Distillerie Tessendier boasts 20,000 French oak barrels in stock.

The oldest, most precious Cognacs date back before WWI, and are kept in glass demijohns, deep in the family's Paradis Cellar.

Cognac Park Our Cellars Map
Cognac Park Our Cellars Book: Guide Pratique D'Alcoometrie
Cognac Park Our Cellars Hanging Barrel
Cognac Park Our Cellars Barrel with markings
Cognac Park Aging Barrel

Aging

Historically, many English merchants helped commercialize the cognac trade and the ports on the west side of France that led into the Charente River and further into the Cognac Region. For that reason, the initials used for Cognac age classifications represent English words, rather than French. All of the Cognac Park blends are appreciably older than the minimum legal requirements.

Guide to Age Classifications

  • To be called cognac, an eau-de-vie must be aged a minimum of two years starting from the end of the distillation period, which ends March 31 each year.
  • The BNIC (Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac) monitors and certifies the age of cognacs using the 'Comptes' system, where a cognac's age is counted beginning on its second birthday, which is April 1.
    • Compte 00 = cognacs distilled before March 31
    • Compte 0 = occurs on April 1st, after distillation
    • Compte 1 = cognacs which have passed their second April 1
    • Compte 2 = cognacs which have passed their third April 1
    • Compte 10 = cognacs which have passed their eleventh April 1
  • Very rarely do you see either age statements or vintage-dated cognacs (date of harvest), but they do exist.

Cognac Age Classifications

VS

Minimum two years. Also known as Very Special.

V.S.O.P.

Minimum age of four years.
Also known as Very Special Old Pale or Reserve.

X.O.

Minimum age of ten years. Also known as Extra Old or Hors d'Age, which often unofficially indicates particularly old or premium releases.

Extra

Extra is recognized as a minimum of 10 years.

Additional Aging Classifications

  • 3 Etoiles: 2 years
  • Reserve, Vieux, Royal: 4 years
  • Napoléon, Très Vieille Réserve, Très Vieux, Heritage: 6 years
  • Ancestral, Gold: 10 years
    • If used the mention of "XXO" means that the younger eau-de-vie is equal or older than 14 years old. (AOC December 2018)
Cognac Park Our Barrels

Our Barrels

Cognac Park expressions are primarily aged in Limousin French Oak barrels.

These barrels possess a very coarse grain; which is not great for winemaking but ideal when aging Cognac.

Our skilled team of coopers hand make our barrels.

Once the oak staves are cut, the wood is dried naturally for three years by the master coopers.

Once the barrels are completed, they are filled with the eaux-de-vie and the aging process begins.

All casks are 350-400 liters each (100 gallons) with a light or medium toast, also known as 'Bousinage' resulting in complex, light and elegant flavors across the portfolio.

Cognac Park Our Barrels
Cognac Park Our Barrels side angle
Cognac Park Our Barrels from the front
Cognac Park The Blending

The Blending

The creation of Cognac most often involves a complex blending of eau-de-vie of different ages and from different 'crus' to create a harmony of flavors and aromas.

Distillerie Tessendier boasts two Master Blenders: Jérôme and Lilian Tessendier.

Each day at around 11am, they taste over fifty different eaux-de-vie.

They subtly blend, step-by-step, three hundred different eaux-de-vie each year to create the Cognac Park collection.

About

Cognac Park U.S. Operations Manager Anaïs Mathilde Brisson

U.S. Operations Manager

Anaïs Mathilde Brisson is the U.S. Operations Manager for Cognac Park. Born and raised in Cognac, she grew up in a distilling family on an estate steeped in tradition. Anaïs spends her time traveling the United States, building and promoting the Cognac Park brand, as well as educating our U.S. customers on the Cognac category.

Cognac Aroma Wheel image credit: BNIC | www.cognac.fr
Image credit: BNIC

Cognac Aroma Wheel

Pineau des Charentes

Particularly delicate and floral, attractive to the nose and pleasant on the palate. Its fresh and juicy character is reinforced by the vigor of the young eau-de-vie.

VS Carte Blanche

Menthol, linden blossom, apricot, banana, pear, ginger, dried fruits, pepper (pink), lychee, orange zest, and white flowers

VSOP

Apricot, ginger, vanilla bean, lychee, orange zest, acacia, jasmine

Fins Bois Organic

Vine flowers, orange, apricot, pear, and ginger

Borderies Mizunara

Fresh apricot, fig and plum. Soft and round with fruit and spice notes of cinnamon and clove.

Borderies Mizunara 12yr Limited Edition

Full, yet delicate. Bright floral notes, with hints of licorice stick and white pepper. Warm, voluptuous finish.

Borderies Mizunara 2004 Limited Edition

Powerful, but structured. Red fruits, toffee, and spices. Long finish with walnut and white pepper.

Borderies Single Vineyard

Dried fig, cinnamon, clove, coffee, cedarwood, buttercup with subtle floral notes

XO Grande Champagne

Almond, orange, banana, plum, dried apricot, caramel, truffle, cocoa, apple, saffron, cigar box, coffee, leather, hazelnut, orange blossom, lilac

XO Cigar Blend

Mango, cacao, saffron, clove, cigar box, gingerbread, and cedarwood.

Extra Grande Champagne

Quince, coconut, licorice, truffle, leather, candied orange, and nougat. Mellow and finessed on the palate, with great length.

Cognac Park Awards & Accolades

Cognac Park VSOP
Cognac Park

VSOP

Wine Enthusuast, 90 Points, Best Buy 2017

Cognac Park Borderies Single Vineyard
Cognac Park

Borderies Single Vineyard

Wine Enthusuast, 98 Points, Top 100 Spirits of 2015

Cognac Park Borderies Mizunara
Cognac Park

Borderies Mizunara

Wine Enthusuast, 93 Points, Top 100 Spirits of 2019

Cognac Park Extra Grande Champagne
Cognac Park

Extra Grande Champagne

Wine Enthusuast, 93 Points, 2019

Cognac Park XO Traditional Reserve
Cognac Park

XO Traditional Reserve

Wine Enthusuast, 96 Points, 2020

Wine Enthusiast, Top 100 Spirits, 2020

Cognac Park XO Cigar Blend
Cognac Park

XO Cigar Blend Vielle Fine Champagne

Gold Medal, San Francisco World Spirits Competition 2017

Wine Enthusuast, 90 Points, Very Strong Recommendation 2017

Cognac Park Sidecar Cocktail Recipe

Sidecar The Definitive Cognac Cocktail

The Sidecar is one of the oldest and most revered cocktails. The first recipes for the Sidecar appeared in 1922, in Harry MacElhone's Harry's ABC of Mixing Cocktails and Robert Vermeire's Cocktails and How to Mix Them . It is one of six basic drinks listed in David A. Embury's The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1948).

Sidecar

  • Method:
  • Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and fine strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon peel. Adding sugar to a portion of the rim is optional.