A few weeks ago I attended the Cognac Show in central London, organised by The Whisky Exchange. It offered an opportunity to taste the cognacs of several producers that are unfamiliar to me, which I shall be writing about in due course. One of those was Vallein Tercinier, who very kindly sent me a great selection of samples, covering a multitude of their cognacs, that I would like to introduce you to now.

Nestled in the historic region of Cognac, Vallein Tercinier was founded in the 19th century and has been in the same family for 5 generations. Speaking with them, it became obvious that they have a deep connection to the land their vines grow in. This love and care I feel has resulted in exceptional older and vintage cognacs. These limited-edition expressions are the crown jewels of the estate. Often aged for decades, they have developed a complexity and depth achieved through time and patience.

Cognac has 6 vineyard areas, each producing different general flavour profiles:-

Grande Champagne – This region is renowned for its fine, delicate Cognacs, characterised by a predominantly floral aroma. The Eaux-de-vie from Grande Champagne are distinguished by their lightness and need extensive ageing in casks to reach their full potential. The long maturation enhances their complexity, making them highly sought after for their quality and depth.

Petite Champagne – Cognacs from Petite Champagne are quite similar to those from Grande Champagne but slightly lack the latter’s finesse. Nonetheless, they exhibit a remarkable quality, with a floral and light profile that appeals to those who appreciate a slightly robust edge in their spirits.

Borderies – As the smallest of the six crus, Borderies offers a unique terroir with clay and flint stone soils, and remnants of limestone decomposition. Located to the northeast of Cognac, the area’s 3,987 hectares of vines produce exceptionally smooth and rounded Cognacs. These spirits are notable for their floral scents, particularly violet, and achieve optimal quality faster than those from Grande and Petite Champagne.

Fins Bois – Encircling the first three crus, Fins Bois features predominantly clayey, chalky soils known locally as “groies,” which are akin to those in the Champagne regions but are distinct due to their red hue and presence of hard Jurassic stones. The Cognacs here mature relatively quickly and are known for their round smoothness and aromas reminiscent of freshly pressed grapes, attributed to the “Pays Bas” or low-lying lands north of Cognac.

Bons Bois – The diverse terrain of the Bons Bois Crus includes sandy soils along coastal stretches, valleys, and predominantly in the southern vineyards, derived from the erosion of the Massif Central. Vines in this area are interspersed with other agriculture and bordered by pine and chestnut forests, contributing to the unique flavour profiles of their Cognacs, which are robust and mature at an accelerated rate due to the sandy terrain.

Bois Ordinaires – With less than 1,101 hectares dedicated to vineyards for Cognac production, this area is marked by its predominantly sandy soil. Positioned along the coastline and on the islands of Ré and Oléron, Bois Ordinaires produces eaux-de-vie that are known for ageing quickly and capturing a distinctive maritime influence, infusing the spirits with a unique flavour profile distinct from their inland counterparts.

I recently had an opportunity to chat with Stéphane Roudier from the Maison to learn a little more:-

Can you share a particularly intriguing story from Vallein Tercinier’s early history that has influenced your distillery’s ethos? Georges Vallein built the family distillery in 1850. A perfectionist with exacting standards, he aimed to obtain the best possible distillation and ageing quality for his cognacs. After years of research and experimentation, he presented the company’s cognacs at the Brussels International Exhibition in 1897, winning an honorary diploma and then a silver medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1900 and the Turin Exhibition in 1902. From generation to generation, this know-how and these little secrets have been passed down, always with the same high standards of quality in the making of our cognacs. Even today, our cognacs regularly win awards in prestigious international spirits competitions.

What characteristics are you looking for when determining which cask to receive prolonged maturation in cask, and what role does the cellar environment play in this process? The characteristics sought by our cellar master for a barrel of Cognac to be intended for long ageing are first of all a total absence of defects, bad notes, both olfactory and gustatory. Then a good balance between the different taste notes in the mouth with a pleasant aroma and taste character. For long ageing, we have a small cellar called “Petit Paradis”, which has the particularity of having natural humidity from the clay soil. This natural, non-mechanical humidity, as it passes through the pores of the oak barrels, rounds out and softens the cognac while adding delicate notes of undergrowth, mushrooms, and old leather.

Can you tell me about the most rare or unique cognac Vallein Tercinier has ever produced, and what made it so special?” 10 years ago, single-cask cognac bottlings with more than 40% strength were very rare and completely unknown to lovers of brown spirits, particularly whiskey. We had bottled an exceptional cognac from 1965 called “Lot 65” having aged 45 years in oak barrels, bottled at 57.7%, without cold filtration. One day the phone started ringing all day with requests to purchase this bottle, we were very surprised and learned that this cognac had been tasted by Mr. Serge Valentin and rated on his site WhiskyFun.com with 95 pts, saying in his comments “I just had a nice conversation with a friend about ‘transcendental’ spirits. I would say they are Mozartian. Remember Sacha Guitry: “When you listen to Mozart, the silence that follows is still Mozart.” Same with that old cognac, long after the finishing is over”. This bottling is unique because the interest in Cognac single casks from spirit lovers started with this bottling and grew year by year.

Are there any experimental or unconventional cognacs in the pipeline for the future? Not currently, but we recently created an unconventional cognac blend called Cognac XO Roots which is particularly popular with Rum lovers due to its atypical character, similar to certain Rums. It is a blend of cognac barrels from the different Cognac “crus” (Fins bois, Grande Champagne, etc.) aged 15 years, not chill-filtered, natural colour, no additives, and aged in French oak barrels for 15 years and bottled at 44%.

How do you integrate sustainability into your viticulture and what future initiatives do you have planned? We have sustainable viticulture and follow the advice and regulations of our National Cognac office (BNIC)

Do you anticipate the taste profile of your cognacs evolving over the next decade? The taste profile will certainly be a little different due to the announced climate changes and the changes in grape varieties which will gradually replace the “Ugni-Blanc” to better resist a new disease which is now affecting and destroying part of the vineyard of our region.

How do you balance the preservation of tradition with innovation? As we do currently, we preserve the family’s artisanal know-how acquired over 5 generations to offer lovers of high-quality traditional Cognacs with character while innovating as we did by being one of the first Cognac houses to offer single cask cognacs and truly atypical blends like our Cognac “Small Batch 46°” and “XO Roots 44°”, to evolve and change the somewhat dusty and “luxurious” image that can still represent the image Cognac for certain spirits consumers.

Looking to the future, what vision does Vallein Tercinier have for the next generation of cognac enthusiasts, and how are you preparing to meet their expectations? As I said earlier, whisky and rum lovers are discovering and appreciating the characterful, value-for-money, artisanal cognacs offered by small craft distilleries like Vallein Tercinier. To meet the demands of these new cognac lovers, we are preparing for the future by maintaining the same high standards of distillation quality and selection of cognac casks for long ageing.

Catherine Tercinier has just passed on the family business to our nephew Guillaume Tercinier, who was baptised with cognac and brought up with family values. We have the assurance that for Vallein Tercinier the driving force will always be “The most important thing is what is in the bottle and not around it!”


Tres Vieux Pineau Reste des Anges 17% – Almost Bovril-like on the nose with damsons. Sweet, fruity and as the taste develops it takes on sherry notes, but with dark fruits.

VSOP – 40% – A fresh and fruity nose of green apple and cut grass, complemented by subtle floral hints and pear. The palate is light and elegant, showcasing a beautiful blend of fruitiness with additional notes of almond and vanilla. The finish is crisp, refreshing, and lingering, offering a lovely introduction to the house’s style.

Napoleon – 40% – Rich aromas of burnt oranges and figs mingle with caramel and a touch of oak on the nose, indicating a mature character. The palate is sweet, with flavours of stone fruits like peaches and apricots, honey, and ginger, enriched by toasted almonds. The finish is smooth, velvety, and subtly spicy, balancing sweetness with warmth.

XO Vieille Reserve Fine Champagne – 40% – This cognac offers a complex, fruity nose of orange and dates, enhanced by roasted nuts and a hint of leather. Spicy notes of cinnamon, clove, and tobacco dominate the palate, layered over dried fruits, culminating in a long, opulent finish with a hint of dark chocolate.

Hors d’Age – 42% – The nose features rich aromas of apricots, quince jelly, and dates, with an undercurrent of mellow oak and old leather. The palate has stewed fruits and sandalwood with vanilla, though slightly lacking in mid-palate fullness and finishing with a hint of black tea bitterness that adds complexity.

46 – 46% – This starts with a floral and delicate nose, evolving into rich coffee and chocolate, and culminating in a palate of chocolate orange with cloves. This elegant spice profile is complemented by ripe berries and a hint of vanilla, leading to a long, refined finish.

Lot 88 Bons Bois – 48.3% – A robust nose of apricots, vanilla, ginger, and smoked wood sets the stage for a dry, spicy palate. Warm notes of leather and walnuts are complemented by dried cherries and a peppery finish, highlighting the strong character enhanced by the higher ABV.

Lot 96 Fins Bois – 48.7% – Figs, cedar wood, and butterscotch create an intriguing nose, with a palate that offers a light and smooth texture, balanced by equal spice. Flavours of leather, dates, dark red fruits, and honeysuckle are accented with a creamy texture and a refreshing mint finish.

Lot 96 Grande Champagne – 49.7% – Elegant and fruit-forward, the nose features a compote of apricots and vanilla with hints of baked apples and smoke. The palate is rich with quince, cloves, and nutmeg, enriched by caramel and subtle oakiness, culminating in a generous, rounded finish.

1995 Borderies – 48.7% – The nose offers apricots, marmalade, and rich tea biscuits, complemented by floral hints and light honey. Although slightly thin on the mid-palate, the profile is refined and light, focusing on elegance and finesse with a spicy touch.

Lot 83 Petite Champagne – 50.4% – The nose is vibrant with vintage marmalade, ginger, herbs, saffron, leather, and oak. The palate follows with butterscotch, toffee, and stone fruits, enriched by a robust spicy layer, presenting a refined yet potent character.

Lot 72 Petite Champagne – 51.3% – Fruity and complex on the nose, with a rich array of fruitcakes, raisins, and prunes. The palate offers a decadent blend of rich fruitcake, molasses, and dried fruits, leading to a luxurious, lingering finish that is truly delicious.

1975 Fin Bois – 52.1% – An incredibly aromatic nose of caramel, crepe Suzette, honey, and stem ginger, with a velvety mouthfeel. The palate is full and spicy, with undertones of dried figs, tobacco, and a savoury meatiness. The flavours are well-integrated with a superb finish.

Vallein Tercinier