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Dear Dr. Vinny,
When Cognac is produced, is it made in the Champagne region or is it made from the Champagne grapes?
—Jerry M., Leawood, Kan.
Actually, neither. Cognac is a brandy made mostly from Ugni Blanc grapes. Champagne is made from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier grapes. Cognac is made in a region called Cognac, and Champagne is made in a region called Champagne.
But then it gets a little confusing, because there is something called "fine Champagne Cognac." Within Cognac are six growing regions, including two named Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne. Turns out that "Champagne" is a way to reference "chalky soils" in France, so there are several areas in France that have "Champagne" in their names. So, if a Cognac comes from Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne, it can be called "fine Champagne Cognac."
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