Do you have any questions about Hardy? Find out about our most frequently asked questions, classified according to the terms most often used.
Cognacs are exceptional eaux-de-vie and are produced in a highly controlled and masterful manner in accordance with AOC Cognac (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) specifications.
Cognac is made from white grapes grown and distilled in the Cognac Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée region. These white grape varieties (mainly Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche and Colombard) are low in sugar and acidity to meet the regulated criteria for distillation in the Charente region.
Charentaise distillation is based on the principle of discontinuous distillation, known as repasse or double distillation. This method consists of a succession of two stages known as "chauffe". The first "chauffe" refers to the distillation of the wine to obtain the brouillis; The second "chauffe" or "repasse" or "bonne chauffe" refers to the distillation of the brouillis and is used to obtain the Cognac eau-de-vie, after removing the products from the beginning and end of the distillation process; during the first or second heating, fractions from the beginning and end of previous distillations which have not been retained as eau-de-vie de cognac may be added to the wine or brouillis. Distillation ends no later than the 31st of March of the year following the harvest.
The new eau-de-vie obtained after distillation is then aged for several years in oak barrels, where it acquires aromas, colour and flavour. This is the ageing process, which can take decades.
The cellar master selects and composes subtle blends of eaux-de-vie of different ages and vintages to give his cognac all its aromatic richness, personality, length and nuances.
Learn more on Cognac Expert
As an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC), Cognac can only be produced in a precisely defined region. This area was defined by decree on May 1st 1909. The appellations Cognac, Eaux-de-vie de Cognac and Eaux-de-vie des Charentes are reserved exclusively for eaux-de-vie made from wines harvested and distilled in the clearly defined areas of Charente, Charente-Maritime and a number of communes in Deux-Sèvres and Dordogne.
For further information, please visit https://www.cognac.fr
There are 6 different crus: Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois and Bois Ordinaires. For more information: https://www.cognac.fr
It was Henri Coquand (1813-1881), a professor of geology, who studied the soils and terroirs of the Cognac region in the mid-19th century. Together with a taster, he validated a classification of soils according to the type of eaux-de-vie they could produce. Around 1860, their work led to the delimitation of the various crus of the Cognac appellation. This was the basis for the decree of 1938 which defined the current crus. For further information: https://www.cognac.fr
Cognac is the result of a blend of different eaux-de-vie, sometimes more than a hundred. Its age and classification are determined by the youngest of the eaux-de-vie used in its composition. This does not prevent the master blender from using older eaux-de-vie in the blend, as is the case with our Hardy cognacs.
There are four official age categories of cognac: VS, VSOP, XO and more recently XXO, which coexist with a number of other unofficial classifications such as Napoléon, Hors d'Age and Millésimes.
VS (Very Special) means "Very Special" and is sometimes called "Selection", "De Luxe" or marked with *** on the label. It must be at least two years old.
VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) or "Very Superior Special Pale", "Very Old", "Réserve" or "Vieux". It must contain a blend of eaux-de-vie, the youngest of which must be at least four years old.
XO stands for Extra Old. Although its eaux-de-vie must be at least 10 years old, the average age of the blend is usually between 15 and 20 years. For example, our XO Rare Hardy has an average age of between 15 and 25 years.
XXO stands for Extra Extra Old. This category was officially added to the Cognac age description in 2018, and the minimum length of ageing in French oak barrels to qualify is 14 years. There are other terms commonly used to describe cognacs aged well beyond 14 years, such as "Hors d'age", "Extra" and "Très Vieille Réserve", but these are not official. For example, our Hardy Privilège cognac in its Caryota decanter contains Grande Champagne eaux-de-vie from before the First World War (1906, 1908 and 1914)!
Roundness, smoothness, subtlety: these are the first words that come to mind when tasting a Hardy cognac. The house has long claimed to have its own style. "My uncle Francis Hardy had a sweet tooth, as the English say. Very early on, he preferred a very rounded style," explains Bénédicte Hardy. The Hardy style never tries to exaggerate the wood; we think that would be a mistake. We like things that are aromatic, light, almost airy. The Hardy style endures and resists the temptations of fleeting fashions. Ostentation and fussiness give way to delicacy and timeless grace.
In 2013, Hardy launched its organic VSOP cognac. It is the result of a long-term effort to select small, high-quality batches for production and reflects Hardy's determination to protect the biodiversity of the Cognac region and to meet the challenges of the Cognac industry in terms of sustainable development. Hardy's organic VSOP has been certified by Ecocert* and has received specific approval for the American market in accordance with the NOP (National Organic Program) regulations, guaranteeing
Hardy owes its name to a 19th century British gentleman, Anthony Hardy. An expert in wines and spirits, Anthony regularly left his London shop to check the quality of Charentais wines. He fell in love with the region at first sight and eventually settled there. He founded Hardy in 1863. A great lover of France and the French, he went so far as to change his first name to Antoine. He also adopted the Gaul cockerel as his family crest.
Bénédicte Hardy represents the fifth generation of the family. An ambassador for the house, she is also responsible for developing sales in the United States.
Discover the history of HARDY and the key dates in the brand's development since its creation in 1863 in the "Our history" section.
Like great couturiers, Hardy creates rare and precious pieces. Collaborations with crystal manufacturers Daum, Baccarat and Lalique testify to this taste for the exceptional. Over the last thirty years, an impressive collection of jewelled decanters has been created. Although some are no longer on sale, these decanters are now part of the history of cognac. The Perfection decanter, created by Jacques Hardy in 1981, was a minor revolution. It is accompanied by a lithograph by the contemporary artist Jacques Carzou. It was followed by a series of decanters, all made by the Nancy-based crystal manufacturer DAUM: Perfection Eau (1996), Perfection Flamme (2001), Perfection Air (2005), Perfection Terre (2008) and Perfection Lumière (2010). The carafes of the Prestige collection are also decorated by Daum: Noces de Platine (1997) and Noces d'Albâtre (2006).
Some of the decanters signed by Daum: from left to right, Perfection Water, Perfection Flame, Perfection Air, Perfection Earth and Perfection Light.
The first Perfection carafe: a revolution.
The collaboration with Lalique, launched in 2012, heralds a new era. Both Hardy and Lalique are houses of tradition and expertise, born in the mid-19th century. The purity of the famous crystal maker's creations is a perfect match for the elegance of Hardy's cognacs.
The Caryota decanter, designed by Lalique, has a satin-finished frieze at the base that resembles the bark of a palm tree. Ten people worked on each piece.
Between the two world wars, Armand Hardy, grandson of the founder of the house of the same name, selected batches of Grande Champagne eaux-de-vie for their exceptional finesse on the nose and palate. As a tribute to the cycle of nature, Hardy presents the Four Seasons series in collaboration with the prestigious LALIQUE crystal factory. Each decanter is produced in a limited edition of 400, representing the changing seasons in the vineyard.
Maison Hardy does not currently offer organised tours. If you have a special request, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Have you found an old Hardy cognac decanter or would you like to know more about an object that bears the image of our house? We're sure you'll find what you're looking for in our dedicated section. If not, please don't hesitate to contact us!
The Hardy Cockerel is the love story of an English gentleman, Anthony Hardy, who became French because of his passion for a land and a product, cognac. His affection and attachment for France even led him to choose its emblem, the cockerel, to proudly defend and promote French craftsmanship abroad. Since 1863, the year it was founded, Hardy has kept its cockerel emblem. In 2023, on its 160th anniversary, Hardy is adopting a brand new identity that proudly displays the company's codes while modernising its cockerel emblem. A new "Fier et Hardy" bottle has been created for its VS, VSOP, VSOP Bio and XO quality cognacs.
That depends on where you are ;) Depending on your country, you can find it in one of our distributors' shops or order it online, for example on the Cognac Expert website.
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