Cognac Frapin VSOP is one of the very best VSOP Cognac one can lay one’s hands on. It is a very well balanced fruit-driven Cognac which represent some of the more modern, elegant styles that are starting to appear.
The Frapin family has been distilling in the Cognac region for 20 generations and their single estate consists of 240 hectares of vineyards in Grande Champagne. Their headquarters is at the stunning Chateau Fontpinot which is set amongst the vineyards in the commune of Segonzac. Grande Champagne is one of 6 sub-regions of Cognac; it is set on chalky soils (similar to those of the Champagne region) and is generally considered to produce the richest, most long-lived cognacs. Frapin practises “L’agriculture raisonnée” which is eco-friendly, resposible farming. The vineyards are cultivated naturally taking into account elements such as the biology of the vine, parasites, weather conditions, and soil. Natural elements are also restored to the earth by adding pruned branches and distillation residue back to the vineyard.
The grapes for the Cognac Frapin VSOP are mechanically harvested from vineyards in the Grande Champagne 1er Cru of Cognac. The basic starting point is a simple white wine, called “Vin de Charente” which is vinified primarily from Ugni Blanc grapes. The wine is aged and then distilled twice in 4 traditional copper Charentais stills. Only the heart of the distillation is used as the “heads” and “tails” contain elements which can detract from the quality of the finished product. The spirits is then sent to oak barrels for ageing.
I often get asked what VSOP means. It stands for Very Superior Old Pale, a style of Cognac in which the youngest component of the blend has to be aged for at least 4 years in cask. In practice the blend will include brandies that are a lot older than this and it is the skill of the blender to combine the younger fruitier spirit with the mellower, aged spirit to produce a well balanced Cognac.