Cognac Vaudon & François Voyer: flower and spice.

Double portrait of two sister brands of cognac from Fins Bois and Grande Champagne. Are you more into flower or spice?

No, this is not a reference to Frank Herbert’s Dune, but a double portrait of two sister brands that are as different as they are interesting. On the one hand, Cognac Vaudon offers floral and fruity cognacs from the Fins Bois, and on the other, François Voyer offers spicy cognacs typical of Grande Champagne. What about you? Are you more into flower or spice?


House Cognac Vaudon traces its origins back to 1771, when distilling began. In 1913, the grandfather of Pierre Vaudon, the current director, won a gold medal for an 1811 spirit. François Voyer was founded in the 1870s. Since its creation, the company has distilled and matured its own spirits. It was not until the 1960s that the company began bottling and marketing its cognacs under its own name.

Today, François Voyer is part of the estate run by Pierre Vaudon, a trained oenologist and distiller, who joined François Voyer in 2000. He has taken on the role of cellar master, developing the blending technique that has been in use for the past 20 years, as well as the commercial side of the business. As often in the cognac industry, commercial structures are far from straightforward, so the spirits of both houses are blended by SARL de Bibardies, which centralises the commercial activities of the two brands.

Pierre Vaudon, oenologist.
Pierre Vaudon, oenologist.

Today, the structure remains family-run and employs 6 people in charge of commercial development (the average age is 27). Pierre Vaudon oversees distillation and blending, while his wife Anne-Marie is the vineyard manager.

The vineyard

The vineyard spans 70 hectares of ugni blanc vines, divided between Grande Champagne (8 hectares) and Fins Bois (62 hectares), more precisely on the border with an area that the old 1909 map referred to as the ‘Premiers Bois’. These vines give the cognacs a slightly more powerful and floral profile. If you want to know more about the different terroirs of cognac, you can read our article about the differences between cognac and armagnac.

Some ‘folle blanche’ vines have recently been replanted and will produce their first juice in a few years’ time.

The soils

The soils in Grande Champagne are typical of the appellation area, with deep, chalky soils covered with grass so that the vines have to grow deep down to capture the water. The vines experience little water stress. 

The soils in Fins Bois are made up of 20-30 cm-deep dry soils over limiting blue marl (clay-limestone), which also forces the roots to draw water from deeper down. 

Vineyard management

The vineyards are managed in accordance with the CEC standard (equivalent of High Environmental Value for the Cognac appellation), which aims to achieve zero use of phytosanitary products, with rationalisation of work and virtual elimination of chemicals. 

Two cultivation methods are used: traditional trellising and high cordon trellising, which creates a parasol effect and reduces soil temperature, which can improve the vine’s resistance to high temperatures. 

Grape harvesting machines are used that retain little plant debris.

Harvesting machine.
Harvesting machine.


Vinification is carried out by a rather long and delicate pneumatic pressing. A mix of pressed juices is created to obtain maximum aromatic complexity. A small amount of post-pressing decanting is carried out to ensure that the juice is free of earth and plant residues. 

Fermentation takes place over a maximum of 5-6 days at a regulated temperature of 24°C (cooler temperatures exacerbate banana and strawberry notes, while higher temperatures give notes of broth and ripe fruit). 

Once fermentation is complete, stainless-steel vats are filled with as much of the wine and lees as possible to avoid contact with oxygen.


Two stills dating from 1970 (boilermaker Sauvaire) and 1988 (boilermaker Pruho) are used for distillation. The first is only used for the second distillation, as it produces finer distillates (the head is more rounded, the quality of the copper, the hearth and the condensing pipe are different). 

Distillations are carried out in 12-hour cycles. Three types of distillation are carried out in order to obtain different styles: without lees, with lees at the end of the load and with lees in overload. The more lees in the load, the fuller and thicker the distillate. Conversely, a distillate with no lees will be finer and more floral. Grande Champagne wines are always distilled with lees, while Fins Bois can be distilled with or without lees. 

Spirits distilled at the end of the season (February-March) are heavier and rounder than those distilled at the beginning of the season, which are fresher, even with grape aromas.

Ageing and blending


Each vintage is aged separately at full strength (69%). Around 15% of the new spirits are aged in new Limousin or Berçé oak barrels for 36 months. After 3 years, all the cognacs are transferred to red barrels. The Grande Champagne is placed in coarse-grained oak barrels, while the Fins Bois will be placed in fine-grained and coarse-grained barrels (a spirit distilled without lees will go into fine-grained oak and vice versa). Annual evaporation is 2%, which means a natural reduction in alcohol content of 0.5 to 2% by volume, depending on the humidity in the cellar.

François Voyer's cellar.


The blends are 43% ‘mother cuts’ that were created in the 2000s. Today, each blend is made by adding vintages of the same age as the blend, using a special blending and reduction technique. The variation in the average degree of the parent blend cannot exceed 10%vol. This means that the contribution is measured, and that the complexity of the whole increases each year simply by accumulation. ‘Daughter cuts’ are added just before bottling. They are made by filtering part of the mother cut and adjusting the volume to 40% vol. 

No colour is added. However, a little sugar may be added, depending on the batch and the year. 

The range 

The François Voyer range includes 10 blends (from VS to the Collection Personnelle) as well as a few rarer and more experimental expressions (brut de fûts, special finishes, specific batches, etc.). 

The Vaudon Cognac range includes 4 blends (from VS to Extra) as well as a vintage (1996) which is no longer available.


Sales are relatively evenly distributed between markets. France accounts for 15% of sales, followed by Europe (38%) and overseas export. In all, the company exports François Voyer and Vaudon cognacs to around forty countries. 

Pierre Vaudon notes a certain success with first-time buyers. In his opinion, France is an interesting market because it is mature, supported by a solid base of connoisseurs and a cult of research. He also notes a growing demand for more specific expressions (batches, cask strength, etc.), which we need to be able to meet. Mixology, a growth sector for all spirits, has also provided an opportunity for collaboration on specific casks.

Cognacs from both brands can be purchased online via resellers such as La Cognathèque.

Tasting notes 

10cl samples were kindly provided by the producer. Tastings took place in pairs (one sample from each house in parallel) over a period of 30 minutes to 1 hour in the same tulip glasses.

Vaudon – VS (2 to 3 years), Fins Bois, 40° (33€) 

Vaudon VS

Colour: golden with amber highlights.

Nose: fairly expressive, opening with rather floral notes (linden, lilac) and fruity notes (peach, black cherries, plum) accompanied by hints of brown sugar. The second ground is spicier, with notes of cinnamon and long java pepper. More resinous notes of sap complete the background. 

Palate: the attack is rather smooth. The mid-palate is floral (lavender) and fruity (peach jam), with notes of light tobacco and a hint of liquorice. The finish is of medium length, woody with a slight bitterness and a touch of black pepper.

François Voyer – VS (2 to 3 years), Grande Champagne, 40°

Voyer VS

Colour: golden. 

Nose: slightly less expressive than Vaudon’s VS, but finer and sharper. Opens with rather spicy notes (madras curry, white pepper, some nutmeg) and woody notes. The second ground is marked by notes of almond and a more herbaceous register (hay, dried flowers). A touch of camphor completes the background. With a little aeration, the nose is enriched by notes of hazelnut and honeysuckle. 

Palate: the attack is round and soft. The mid-palate is marked by notes of vanilla, chestnut, hazelnut and milk chocolate. A finely wooded structure underpins the palate. The finish is rather short, with a hint of liquorice.

François Voyer – Terres (Grande Champagne, 4 to 6 years), 40° (around €38)

Voyer Terres

Colour: amber.

Nose: the opening is rather fine and floral, with notes of lily of the valley and lilac as well as a hint of rose. The second ground reveals fruity notes (plum, a touch of peach) as well as a more tertiary register with notes of hazelnut and spices (nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon). A hint of tobacco and soft caramel complete the background. With aeration, a few notes of white pepper develop. 

Palate: the attack is moderate. The mid-palate is marked by notes of plums, toasted bread, caramel and latte coffee. The finish is of medium length, with notes of roasted nuts.

Vaudon – VSOP (4 to 6 years), Fins Bois, 40° (€40)

Vaudon VSOP

Colour: amber.

Nose: fairly concentrated, opening with notes of milk chocolate, marzipan and sultanas. The second ground is marked by notes of dried apricot and morello cherry, along with hints of waxed wood and toast. A floral (hint of violet) and slightly mentholated register runs through the palate.

Palate: the attack is moderate, with a voluptuous mid-palate marked by notes of violet, hazelnut and raisin-filled milk chocolate. The finish is rather warm and of medium length, with notes of white pepper and liquorice.

François Voyer – VSOP (6 to 14 years), Grande Champagne, 40° (47€)

Voyer VSOP

Colour: amber.

Nose: a tad less expressive than Vaudon’s VSOP. Opens with notes of beeswax and encaustic. In the background, notes of camphor and cedar gradually give way to fruitier (red plum, fresh grape, hint of bergamot) and fresher (verbena, honeysuckle) notes. A few notes of roasted hazelnuts complete the background. 

Palate: the attack is smooth, with a fairly light mid-palate with notes of caramel, marzipan and hazelnut praline, complemented by a hint of tangerine. The finish is of medium length.

François Voyer – Napoléon (10 to 20 years), Grande Champagne, 40° (66€)

Voyer Napoléon

Colour: amber with copper highlights. 

Nose: opens with a finely spiced profile (liquorice, camphor, ginger) along with woody and fruity (orange peel, combawa, mango) notes. The second ground is more floral (honeysuckle, lily) with hints of blackberries and black cherries. Notes of almond and toasted bread complete the background. 

Palate: moderate attack. The mid-palate is rather round and smooth, with notes of vanilla syrup, orange blossom brioche, caramel and hazelnut praline. The finish is rather long, with hints of liquorice and dried fruit.

François Voyer – XO 1er cru (10 to 25 years), Grande Champagne, 40° (87€)

Voyer XO 1er cru

Colour: amber with copper highlights.

Nose: fairly light and fine, opening with notes of spices (allspice, cinnamon, camphor), dried fruit and a touch of caramel. The second ground presents a few foral notes (iris, pepper rose) accompanied by hints of nougat and fruit in syrup (peach, cherry). Notes of cinnamon and hazelnut support the background. 

Palate: the attack is moderate. The mid-palate is finely woody and liquoriced, with hints of tobacco, hazelnut and dark chocolate. The finish is rather long on liquorice and spices (white pepper, nutmeg). A few hints of fruit paste come through in retro-olfaction.

Vaudon – XO (around 20 years), Fins Bois, 40° (€87)

Vaudon XO

Colour: copper.

Nose: fuller, opens with notes of ripe fruit (peach, roasted peach, pear), almond and white pepper. The second ground is more floral and herbaceous (verbena, peony, hints of rose). Notes of waxed wood complete the background.

Palate: the attack is smooth. The mid-palate is round, with notes of light tobacco, vanilla sugar, plum, date and cocoa. The finish is fairly long, carried by a lovely freshness (eucalyptus, mint).

François Voyer – XO Gold (10 to 30 years), Grande Champagne, 40° (123€)

Voyer XO Gold

Colour: copper.

Nose: opens with notes of tobacco, vine peaches and camphor. The second ground is marked by spices (nutmeg, a hint of white cardamom and star anise), waxed wood and a touch of toasted pine nuts. In the background, there are hints of dried apricot, humus, and a touch of smoke.

Palate: moderate attack. The mid-palate is fairly concentrated, with a toasty, woody profile accompanied by notes of plum, roasted dried fruit and a slight rancio. A minty and slightly liquorice freshness is expressed in retro-olfaction. A slight bitterness underpins a long, spicy finish (nutmeg, white pepper, liquorice).

François Voyer – Extra (10 to 45 years), Grande Champagne, 42° (€242)

Voyer Extra

Colour: copper.

Nose: expressive and round. Opens with intense notes of apricot jam accompanied by nutmeg and white pepper. The background presents notes of vanilla, allspice and toast. In the background are notes of dried rose, almond, melilot and sandalwood. A slight rancio underpins the whole.

Palate: the attack is smooth. The mid-palate is rather round and intense, with notes of apricot tart, plum and spices (white pepper, star anise). Liquorice comes through in retro-olfaction. The finish is long and liquorice-flavoured, with notes of white pepper and a touch of smoke.


Although each cuvée expresses a variety of aromatic notes, there is a recurring floral and fruity register with Vaudon, while François Voyer’s cognacs tend more towards spice. The two brands are also quite complementary, with very convincing spirits that are easy to drink, even when young, at Vaudon, while François Voyer’s cognacs express themselves fully from the Napoléon onwards (although the Terres is quite expressive) and reach their peak in the very intense and gourmet Extra. In both cases, the value for money is very good and it’s more a question of taste: do you prefer the expressive, sexy cognacs of Vaudon or the finesse and spice of Voyer? As always, we’d appreciate slightly higher ABVs to reveal the potential of these fine bottles.

In a nutshell

  • Both Cognac Vaudon and François Voyer brands are led by Pierre Vaudon. 
  • The vineyard of ugni blanc spreads over Grande Champagne (8 hectares for François Voyer) and Fins Bois (62 hectares for Vaudon). 
  • A unique blending technique using ‘mother cuts’ from the 2000’s and ‘daughter cuts’ enables to enrich and complexify the blends years after years. 
  • While Vaudon’s cognacs are quite tasty with floral and fruity notes, François Voyer’s cognacs need more time to reveal their finesse and spicy character. 

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