Raymond Ragnaud is one of the top Cognac producers and the family has grown grapes since 1860. The Raymond Ragnaud Pineau des Charentes is made in the traditional manner, by combining 2/3 unfermented grape must with 1/3 young cognac. This example has picked up some additional oxidative complexity after aging for four years in foudre, showing flavors of figs, pears, and nuts. While there is perceptible sweetness in this wine, the acidity and alcohol keep it from becoming cloying.
Pineau des Charentes is a mistelle, or fortified wine, made in Cognac from a blend of fresh or lightly fermented grape juice and Cognac eau-de-vie (brandy).
At 16-22% ABV, Pineau des Charentes will be stronger than wine, but far from Cognac, on par with vermouth, sherry or port. It combines bright acidity with fresh fruit notes, making it ideal for summer sipping. Traditionally, the drink is served in a tulip-shaped glass with a single-ice cube.
Popular in the fifties and sixties, Pineau des Charentes is making a comeback these days, often appearing as an ingredient in creative cocktails where it lends brightness and amplifies the brandy-ness of brandy-based cocktails.