Courvoisier XO Cognac
Courvoisier XO Cognac

Pierre Szersnovicz has spent his life making, bottling, and carrying the flag for Courvoisier cognac. He happily retired, but his previous title was Director of Spirit Quality Control, which reflects his deep knowledge of the entire process of assembling a great cognac, from the ungi blanc grapes that make the basic white wine which is then distilled, and on through the complex barrel aging and blending processes. Pierre, though, is also Brand ambassador, which reflects his great passion for the spirit. One supposes even in Napoleon’s time, this kind of knowledge and passion would have found its rewards.

“With these new, age-specific bottles, Courvoisier has taken a page out of the single Malt Scotch whiskey books, and made it very easy indeed for a consumer to know with certainty what the age of the spirit is.”

Courvoisier Napolean Cognac Fine Champagne
Courvoisier Napolean Cognac Fine Champagne

But Pierre, along with his wife Jennifer, who was Communication and Trade Relations Manager for Courvoisier, were travelling the world, in stages, to present something unique, a first not only for Courvoisier, but for any cognac: two new spirits that show the age of the brandy in years. They are a 12 and a 21 year old, both splendid.

In the tradition-bound world of cognac, this is a bit revolutionary. Previously, each producer followed the same rules, designating their bottles in an almost bewildering array of names. The most famous of these had barrel-aging requirements: VS (3-5 years minimum) VSOP (5-7 years); XO (7-10 years), and on through specially designated ultra-premium bottles, including Courvoisier’s own L’Essence, which has spirits aged anywhere from 20 to 100 years, in a special blend.

Within those rules, however, each house decides just what their blend will be, how much three year and how much (or little) five year, brandy will go into the VS, for example.

With these new, age-specific bottles, Courvoisier has taken a page out of the single Malt Scotch whiskey books, and made it very easy indeed for a consumer to know with certainty what the age of the spirit is.  The 12 and 21 each is aged to reveal optimum character for that age. Which one should you have? It just depends on the mood.

Courvoisier Succession JS Cognac
Courvoisier Succession JS Cognac
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James Tobler was Editor first of NUVO and then MONTECRISTO magazines, over a period of 20 years. He edited and wrote the Passport blog for Kiwi Collection for its first two years as well. He has written four cookbooks, with the chefs, for Araxi, Blue Water Cafe, West, and Cin Cin. He has contributed to a wide variety of publications, including The Globe and Mail, Okanagan Life, Fox News Lifestyle, and Wine Access magazine, where he was Managing Editor. He currently works with Mark Taylor on Gem City Guide, and, now, Inside Spirits magazine.

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