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Old 10-29-2001, 11:10 AM
toadspittle toadspittle is offline
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Toadspittle Hill
Posts: 6,129
From Wine X Magazine:

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.