Cognac 1811 Napoléon
Provenance: Christies London, 5/4/2000
1811 was regarded at the time as the greatest vintage in living memory, and is now universally held to be the finest vintage of the 19th century throughout the vineyards of Western Europe. In the same year, Napoleon himself visited the region, and was presented with a barrel of cognac as a gift for his young son. Many ascribed the extraordinary weather to the remarkable astronomical event that had dominated the year. The exceptional quality of 1811 cognac was recognised immediately, and the leading producers marked the vintage either with the date on the bottle, or, more unusually, with a picture of the comet forever associated with the vintage. The date "1811" or the star (as the comet symbol soon became) were regarded as signs of infallible quality, and the leading producers were not slow to exploit this. The Russian Empire removes Anton II, Catholicos Patriarch of Georgia, from his office, placing a Russian-appointed bishop at the head of the Georgian church. The Argentine Government declares freedom of expression for the press.
Renowned throughout the world, the production of Cognac has been regulated by its very own AOC since 1909. Only liqueurs from eaux-de-vie made from crus from the controlled appellation area of Cognac can be labelled as such. This liqueur must be distilled and aged on-site in compliance with authorised techniques: double distillation in a copper Charentais still, ageing in oak barrels for a set minimum ageing period.
A good Cognac is subjected to a complex manufacturing process. It is never made from the eau-de-vie of a single cru, but from a `marriage' of eaux-de-vie that vary in age and cru - some as old as a hundred. To establish the age of a Cognac, only the number of years spent in oak casks or barrels are taken into account. As soon as an eau-de-vie is decanted into a glass recipient, it ceases to age. The longer it is left to age, the more a Cognac gains in complexity, fragrance, aromas and taste (spiced, pepper and cinnamon flavours).
Please note that only Cognacs made exclusively from Petite and Grande Champagne (50% minimum) can use the "Fine Champagne" appellation.