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Wine information > Brandy wine
It is impossible to take leave of the subject of wine without a note on Brandy, the spirit distilled from wine. In its finest form that of a matured fine Champagne of anything from fifty to ninety years surely no liquid under heaven can compare with it!
The pre-eminent Brandy is the Cognac, distilled from the wines of the Charentes. Good Spanish Brandy is made, and Australian and
Cape Brandies are not without their qualities.
The most celebrated Brandy-producing districts in the Charente area are The Grande or Fine Champagne, The Petite Champagne, The Borderies, The Premiers Bois, the Fins Bois and the Bons Bois.
Brandy is distilled from wines that are sour and harsh, and, indeed, the harshest wines seem to produce the best Brandy. The wine is poured into the stills before separation, that is with the head, and this is thought to encourage the production of ethers. Brandy is matured in the wood, whence it extracts a certain amount of
colouring matter and tannin. As in the case of wine, the spirit must not be kept too long in the wood or it becomes 'tired.' The process must be arrested by bottling. Brandy is manipulated in the course of making, colouring and sweetening matter being added, not by way of adulteration, but to obtain the desired character and appearance.
Old Brandy is best drunk after black coffee, which prepares the palate for it. Perhaps it may be said with regard to restaurant Brandy liqueurs, that all is not '48 that says so! Certain renewals and fortifications may well have taken place. As with wine, the
restaurant's reputation must be the diner's guarantee. But it is well to train oneself to judge Brandy, not by the label, but by the palate. Fifty years may be long enough for a good Brandy to develop its generous mellowness, subtlety, and fragrance to the full. A Brandy will not necessarily be better because it bears an older date. The palate must be the judge.