Vineyard acreage: 44 acres (18 ha): 33 acres in Bons Bois and 11 acres in Petite Champagne
Grape variety: Ugni blanc
Annual sales cognac: Around 18 000 bottles

 

P67Jacques Petit, fifth generation wine-grower, is very proud of his calcareous vineyards around Berneuil in the south-eastern part of AOC Cognac. The little village with its three hundred inhabitants is located in the Bons Bois wine district, within a stone’s throw from Fins Bois and five kilometres from Petite Champagne, but it could probably just as well have been placed in the latter if history had had a different course.

The drawing-up of boundaries is never completely fair. The former head of Station Viticole, one of BNIC’s five departements, Francis Gay-Bellile, is said to have claimed that the dividing lines between the six wine regions are 95 per cent accurate. Of course, a functional classification of the six wine regions did not allow an excessive amount of enclaves, but it is clear that politics or mere coincidence in some cases determined how the boundary lines were ultimately drawn. 

P68Jacques raises his finger and explains:
– My vineyards are located along a line of especially calcareous ridges that run from Saint-Preuil in the Grande Champagne down to Aubeterre-sur-Dronne in the southeast. In the 1800s, vineyards along this particular route were considered to be the finest, the ones that could produce the best eaux-de-vie. But things changed with politics ...

Jacques makes a sweeping motion with his arms and specifically mentions a certain mayor, owner of some mills, who in the 1930s probably played a crucial role in the political game of the municipality’s cru affiliation. The mayor is said to have been more interested in people cultivating cereals than wine.


The history of the house can be traced back to the 1850s when the Goulard family built a small distillery and began producing cognac. The property changed its name to Petit when Jacques’ grandmother, born Goulard, married Albert Petit in 1921. In the 1960s, André Petit decided to terminate his contracts with Hennessy and start bottling himself. His son Jacques, a university-trained oenologist (wine expert), has since continued in his father’s footsteps.

Jacques always distils with the lees, but the amount varies depending on the quality of the wine. The VS, VSOP and Napoleon are aged in a range between 4 and 15 years, while the excellent XO is aged in Limousin casks for 25 years.

Cognac André Petit is undoubtedly one of the top producers in Bons Bois.

This is an abridged version of a translation into English of page 144 of the Swedish book Cognac – kungen av eau-de-vier (Cognac – the king of eaux-de-vie) © Stevali Production and Gunnar Svedberg, 2014.
© Gunnar Svedberg 2015-02-03

 

 

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