FOUR GENERATIONS OF EXPERIENCE
To make the eau de vie that will become Grande Champagne Cognac, François starts by harvesting and pressing our organically grown Ugni Blanc, Colombard, and Folle Blanche grapes and fermenting them into a tart, fruity, low-alcohol wine using only indigenous yeast. Once the season begins in October, François begins to distill the wine on his family’s custom-made direct-fire Charentais pot still. As is traditional in Grande Champagne, he includes the lees—the cloudy, flavorful residue left behind by fermentation—in the still along with the wine, which gives the eau de vie a richer mouth feel and deeper flavor as well as the potential to age for a very long time.
Francois needs to distill the wine twice to make eau de vie. During both distillations, Francois keeps only the heart of the run, recycling the first and last parts—called the heads and the tails—into the next batch. He decides where to cut the heads, heart, and tails by using a combination of smell, taste, measurement, experience, and intuition, allowing him to respond to changes in the character of each wine and each vintage.