GROWER COGNAC 101
Basically, four big names dominate the Cognac industry: Hennessy, Martell, Courvoisier, and Remy Martin. This is usually the extent of the normal drinker's Cognac familiarity. For good reason: Hennessy alone is responsible for 50 million bottles a year and over 40% of Cognac sales.
Let's start with the basics:
Cognac is a delimited region on the west coast of France. Like any other wine region, there are better areas and more average areas and the grapes are priced according. 98% of the region's vines are Ugni Blanc - a neutral, high acid variety. By law, Cognac is disilled twice in copper alembic stills. Maturation of Cognac is strictly regulated but always involves time in cask and sometimes a bit of resting time in glass. The final product's classification is determined by the aging regimen, and prices certainly vary.
Farm to Table:
its a bit of a blanket statement to say that grower cognac offers more quality - but its probably true. These cognacs tend to be more site specific and are even commonly vintage dated, as opposed to the norm of blending for consistency in every batch. These cognacs are rich in history, tradition, and flavor. They are full of character and you can feel just a little bit better about supporting that small time farmer across the pond.
Cognac & Blues with Matthew Skoller will tell these stories and give you the chance to experience true artisanal Cognac like you haven't before.