Everyday we passionately age and blend our cognacs using the skills and expertise that have been passed down for more than 10 generations of the Gautier Family
Step 1 : Harvest
Step 2 : Distillation
Step 3 : Barrel selection
Step 4 : Ageing
Step 5 : Blending
Cognac is a wine eau-de-vie made from white grapes (mainly Ugni blanc) coming from the cognac region AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée). This region is divided in six growing areas (named “crus” in French), each with their own soil characteristics; consequently the diverse eaux-de-vie have specific and unique qualities.
At Maison GAUTIER, we use the following “crus”: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Fins Bois and Bons Bois, to bring out the best of each and create the most beautiful harmony.
This step is key in the elaboration process as it defines the aromatic profile and consequently its quality. The Charentaise distillation process exists since the 18th century. It reveals the aromatic richness of the eaux-de-vie while ensuring high quality.
The distillation is done in a Charentais alambic, which distils the wine twice: a first time to obtain a ‘brouillis’ (30°) ; and then a second time to obtain the eaux-de-vie that will then age in our oak barrels.
Since our origins as barrel makers from the Limousin forest in France, we have close relationships to oak, a key element in mastering the long maturation process of our cognac.
It was encapsulated in the family’s motto « Du galt mer sui » which means « I am the Lord of the Forest » in ancient French.
From this unique heritage, we know how to select the oak trees that create the perfect barrels to welcome our cognacs.
Ours are made from French oak, with large grains, in order to provide subtle tannins to our cognac and deliver its woody taste. They are slowly toasted, on medium fire, to give our cognac distinctive rich, gourmand and grilled notes. These barrels together with the high humidity of our cellars are the perfect combination to ensure quality ageing.
Our eaux-de vie are placed in barrels according to their age. They get their color from the contact with the barrels’ oak and their flavors evolve through time: woody notes, hints of vanilla…
We age our eaux-de-vie in our naturally humid cellars uniquely located over the Osme river in Aigre. The humidity level remains around 75-80% in our cellars, close to the one of cigar humidors, thus providing perfectly harmonious conditions for cognac ageing.
During the maturation process in the cellars, our eaux-de-vie develop an exceptional roundness and aromatic richness.
This is how we achieve the distinctive and generous signature of our cognacs.
Once our cellar master considers the eaux-de-vie mature enough comes the blending phase, during which we can express our know-how and develop the unique characteristics of our eaux-de-vie.
At this stage, the expertise of our cellar master is key in the process as he will be responsible for delivering an untouched taste and quality of the final product thoughout the years.
We have chosen to go for quality and richness by creating blends that are usually aged much longer than the minimum required age.
At Maison Gautier, we keep close relationships with many contributors of cognac: distillers, coopers, winemakers. This closeness allows us to maintain consistency in the quality of our eaux-de-vie and a deep knowledge of their ageing in our cellars after 2, 10 or even 50 years.
There are two different types of distillers : “bouilleur de cru” and “bouilleur de profession”.
A “bouilleur de cru” distills his own harvest when a “bouilleur de profession” can also distill the harvest of other winegrowers.
At Maison GAUTIER, we work with different distilleries, including the Distillerie Chaignaud with whom we have been collaborating for decades!
“We have been working with Maison Gautier for 3 generations and are very proud of it. Some of our eaux-de-vie have been ageing in Maison GAUTIER for many years.”, Maxime Petit, winegrower and bouilleur de cru.
The cooper is an essential partner for Maison GAUTIER because his work on the wood contributes to the exceptional taste of our cognacs. He makes the barrels from the stave wood extracted from oak trees, and then assembles the staves. These barrels will be used for cognac ageing.
After shaping the barrel, the cooper will carry out the delicate phase of barrel toasting, in order to develop rich and diverse flavours such as vanilla, woody notes, etc.
“The choice of the wood used for the ageing of the eaux-de-vie belongs to each Maison, depending on the type of cognac they want. The large grain barrels used by Maison GAUTIER provide more tannins to the blend notes”, Gauthier Allary from Tonnellerie Allary.