Recently, the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) made their first change to the ageing designations of Cognac since 1983. The change, effective April 1, 2018 required that in order for newly bottled Cognac to carry the designation “X.O. (Extra Old)”, the youngest eau-de-vie must be at least ten years old. Under the 1983 designations in order for a Cognac to be designated XO, the youngest eau-de-vie needed to be at least six years old. The requirement that the youngest eau-de-vie needs to be at least six years old for a Cognac to be designated “Napoléon” will remain, thus drawing a distinction between “Napoléon” and “XO” Cognacs.
For X.O. Cognacs on the market up until March 31 2018, the BNIC set a time limit until March 31, 2019 for such Cognacs to be allowed to continue to carry the X.O. designation.
Get Ready for XXO Cognac!
In the United States, the bulk of Cognac sales are of the young V.S. variety. In China and other parts of the far east, older cognacs sell better. Last year, to capture the Asian predilection for greater aged Cognacs, Hennessy began to market Hennessy XXO Hors d’Age Cognac- a cognac that is aged for 14 years. The French consumer protection agency, the Regional Directorate of Enterprises, Competition, Consumer Affairs, Labor and Employment of New Aquitaine, issued an injunction against the sale and marketing of this XXO cognac on the grounds that it might confuse consumers, especially since the BNIC has no official XXO designation for Cognac.
According to Agence France Presse (AFP), Hennessy and other cognac producers lobbied the French National Institute of Origin and Quality (INAO) with the assistance of the BNIC to allow the sale of XXO cognac. The proposal to allow the new XXO cognac was approved unanimously last week by the INAO according to SudOest.
The BNIC has noted that the new XXO designation should be officially adopted before the end of this year, at which time they intend to publish new provisions relating to cognac ageing designations. While Hennessy, may have marketed the first XXO cognac, the BNIC, according to Figaro has noted that “the inclusion of the mention of the XXO cognac specification will ultimately allow all the cognac houses of our appellation to market their cognac as such”.
The designation changes should provide a challenge for Cognac Houses to produce finer, longer-aged (and even more expensive) Cognacs.
To see X.O. Cognac reviews, click here.