Frapin’s style embodies the very essence of Cognac. The whole estate, including 240ha of vineyards, lies in the Grande Champagne area which is regarded as Cognac’s best appellation.
Still in original family ownership, the family can trace their vine growing and distilling history back to 1270. Frapin combines the knowledge with well-established methods passed down through the generations to hand-craft cognacs that are exclusively harvested, distilled and aged on their estate.
Frapin’s single family estate includes 240 hectares of vines in the heart of Grande Champagne, the premier cru of cognac. In the middle of the estate lies an elegant 18th century property called Château Fontpinot. Cognac Frapin is the only cognac house in Grande Champagne that can be called Château.
They grow a grape variety commonly called Ugni Blanc to produce our cognacs. This grape variety has the advantage of being late ripening, having low alcohol levels (which give better aromatic concentration) and high acidity levels. These acidity levels help to protect the wine until the distillation.
Frapin cognacs come exclusively from grapes grown on their own estate.
Frapin’s Charente wines are transformed into exceptional cognacs by their master distillers. They distil on lees because they believe it brings more interesting flavours to their cognacs. The lees are dead yeast cells, left over from fermentation, that are placed within the still.
At Frapin, master distillers control distillation which takes place in their six copper stills of 25 hectolitre Stills. The wine is heated by the boiler which causes the alcohol to evaporate and rise up through the swan neck. It then passes through the coiled pipe, which is cooled with cold water, and condenses creating an impure alcoholic liquid, at 30 to 32 degrees alcohol by volume, known as brouillis. The brouillis is distilled for a second time creating the bonne chauffe. Produced by double distillation, cognac is the very soul of the wine from which it came. The master distiller takes the heart of the bonne chauffe concentrating the delicate aromas and flavours into a colourless eau-de-vie which is now 71 degrees alcohol by volume.
Two factors have an impact on the ageing of their cognac; the wood of the barrels and the cellars in which they are stored.
Frapin cognacs are aged in Limousin oak barrels. It is the wood that gives cognac its warm colour by releasing tannins when in contact with the eaux-de-vie. They use three types of barrels. The first are new barrels which quickly transmit colour and aromas to the cognac. After a short time their cellar master will move cognacs to older barrels which are called roux. These barrels have less impact and they leave the cognacs here for longer and monitor their evolution. Ageing ends in century old casks that no longer provide no colour or aroma to the cognac. Instead they allow the ageing process to progress through oxidation and evaporation; the angel’s share.
The barrels are stored in different cellars around the estate according to their individual characteristics. The cellar master is responsible for selecting and changing the position of each barrel overtime according to the ageing conditions sought for each. He can place them in one of two categories of cellars.
Humid cellars are at ground level on clay floors where the humid atmosphere allows moderate evaporation from the barrels bringing roundness and suppleness to the cognac. Dry cellars are upstairs in the attics where low humidity leads to more rapid evaporation and brings additional delicacy and elegance to Frapin cognacs.
Grande Champagne cognacs need time to express their exceptional aromas. This is why they age their cognacs for longer.
The last step before bottling, blending, is crucial for the cellar master. As a true artist, he must assemble each blend selecting from the palette of eaux-de-vies available to him in order to obtain consistency of quality and character. The goal is to keep Frapin’s style year after year. A true blend of rigour, intuition and experience.
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