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View Full Version : Brandy and cognac--What do "X.O.", "V.S.", "V.S.O.P" mean?


Spectre of Pithecanthropus
10-29-2001, 10:58 AM
Do these designations have anything to do with the purported quality of the product? When sported by an American brandy label, do they carry any real significance?

And while we're on the subject of brandy, are there, or have there ever been, any California brandy makers who have aimed
to achieve the quality of better French brands like Remy Martin ?

AndyJ
10-29-2001, 11:05 AM
V.S.O.P stands for Very Special Old Pale

Earthling
10-29-2001, 11:10 AM
VS = Very Special
VSOP = Very Superior Old Pale
XO = Extra Old

From http://winexwired.com/2point1/cognac.htm

toadspittle
10-29-2001, 11:10 AM
From Wine X Magazine:

http://winexwired.com/2point1/cognac.htm


The letter designations used in classifying cognac derive from English words, as it was formerly the English who were the primary consumers of cognac. The first (and youngest) designation, aged a minimum of two and a half years in barrels is:

VS -- Very Special
VSOP -- Very Superior Old Pale, minimum four years
NAPOLEON -- Minimum six years
X.O./EXTRA OLD-- Also minimum of six years, though most cognacs of this designation are much older, with the six year age denoting only the youngest cognacs used in the blend
A cognac can only be designated with the classification of the youngest cognac used in the blend, so while a fine four-year old may be blended with a six- or eight-year-old, it will still be labeled VSOP, for the use of the four-year old cognac.

Aceospades
10-29-2001, 11:11 AM
Originally posted by javaman
Do these designations have anything to do with the purported quality of the product? When sported by an American brandy label, do they carry any real significance?
that is exactly what they mean. i know that VS stands for very special and i think that VSOP stands for very special old product, but i'm not sure. as for the american brandy's, i'm not so sure.

Originally posted by javaman

And while we're on the subject of brandy, are there, or have there ever been, any California brandy makers who have aimed
to achieve the quality of better French brands like Remy Martin ?
there might be some that have tried, but i don't think any american brandy makers have even come close to what comes out of france. basicly france has a monoply on brandy and it would be very hard for a compiny to compete with them. although it was the same with wine not to long ago. one never knows...

toadspittle
10-29-2001, 11:14 AM
Holy simulpost--even the same link!

ninja_rydr
10-29-2001, 11:16 AM
V.S is "Very Special" and is at least 2.5 years old but no older than 4.5. From 4.5 to 6.5 it would be V.S.O.P. "Very Special Old Pale" and older than that is X.O. "Extra Old".

Spritle
10-29-2001, 11:16 AM
From this website (http://ct.essortment.com/brandycognachi_recd.htm) comes the following:


The letters C, E, F, O, P, S, and V are used to describe the different varieties. C means cognac, E means extra, F means fine, O means old, P means pale, S means special, and V means very special. Combinations of these letters are used to distinguish different types of brandy. For example, VSOP is ďvery special old paleĒ which is aged for five years in a wood cask and often called five star brandies. There is also other vocabulary that brandy drinkers are familiar with. Napoleon means the brandy is at least four years old, usually much older. Vintage means that the liquor must be kept inside a wooden cask under the time it is bottled, and Hors Díage means the exact age of the brandy is unknown. Brandy is best served at room temperature.

Earthling
10-29-2001, 11:41 AM
These initials all work for English, but do they work for French?

CookingWithGas
10-29-2001, 11:48 AM
Hmmmm. Sources sound impeccable but six-year-old cognac does not sound very old to me. I mean, 12-year-old Scotch is not unusual or expensive. How old are the most expensive cognacs that I might actually buy (i.e., < $100/bottle)?

clairobscur
10-29-2001, 11:49 AM
Originally posted by Earthling
These initials all work for English, but do they work for French?

They don't "work" in french, but nevertheless are used in France. As someone pointed out, these initials originated in England.

starfish
10-29-2001, 03:15 PM
Do French regulations restrict the labeling to initials to avoid using English words?

'Uigi
10-29-2001, 05:00 PM
I've had 5-star Metaxa and 7-star Metaxa (a Greek brandy) and there seemed to be a noticeable difference. Do stars give a further clue of age?

I guess they both would have been better if not mixed with Pepsi.

clairobscur
10-29-2001, 07:52 PM
Originally posted by starfish
Do French regulations restrict the labeling to initials to avoid using English words?

I don't think so. These initials most probably predate any regulation concerning language use, and probably even amy concern about this issue.

Anyway, there's no regulation preventing the use of english words on a product (or anything else, for that matter). The text only has to be translated. Which applies for instance for advertisments, user's directions, contents of the product,etc...

As the initials, in this instance, refer to the specific qualities of the product (its age), perhaps it could be in theory argued that the plain words, if they appeared instead of the initials should be translated (or expressed differently : there are french terms which can appear on Cognac, like "Vieille reserve" which has the same meaning than XO, for instance).

Aceospades
10-29-2001, 09:55 PM
Originally posted by jseigle
Hmmmm. Sources sound impeccable but six-year-old cognac does not sound very old to me. I mean, 12-year-old Scotch is not unusual or expensive. How old are the most expensive cognacs that I might actually buy (i.e., < $100/bottle)?

Unlike other types of alcohol, brandy usually stops getting any better after 50 years. We had a sales rep. Come in and demonstrate for us the difference between the ages of conic. He had two bottles R.M. VSOP and Louie XIII. It was like night and day. Now Iím a whisky man my self, but that Louie could give MacAllan a run for its money. Any way I was surprised to find out from the rep that the Louie was only 50 years old (give or take a few years because the youngest blend is the only one that counts). He told us that the tasters that work for remy put a time limit of around 50 years on the brandy because after that the quality actually starts to go down. Donít worry about that 200-year old bottle of Louie you got from your dear old grandpa and have been saving for a rainy day. After bottling, liquor almost completely stop aging. Oh, and by the way, IF you could find Remy Martin Louie XIII in a liquor store, it would probably run around $1200 to $1500. We sell it here at the hotel for $100 for an ounce and a half (and thatís a steal). We tell people you donít drink Louie. You experience it!

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