This does not prevent them from giving a lot of consumer information. Beyond all legal information - capacity, place of production or bottling -, the cognac label provides additional information on the product you are about to taste, including its age and its vintages.
The indications on age
Cognac, which has a worlwide reputation to protect, has established very strict rules to protect consumers but also to prevent its production and presentation from being counterfeited. This implies compliance to many rules beit for distillation, for stocking, for ageing or for assembly, etc.
A cognac that is ready to be commercialised must be at least two and a half years old starting from the 1st October of the year of harvest. For the different classes of Cognac, it is the age of the youngest spirit that determins its class.
***, V.S. (Very Special), Sélection, de Luxe. The youngest spirit of the assembly may not be less than four and a half years old. But often, the spirits are much older.
V.S.O.P., Réserve... The youngest spirit in the assembly for Very Superior Old Pales, also called Reserve Cognacs is between four and a half and six and a half years old.
Napoléon, Impérial, Hors d’âge, Vieille Réserve, X.O. All terms like Napoleon, XO or "very old" are assemblies of spirits that are at least six and a half years old.
However, most Cognacs are well above this minimum imposed by the regulation. In fact some of the most prestigious names assemble spirits that are each at least dozens of years above the minimum required.
The indications on vintages
The term "Fine".
The term "Fine" is authorised by the law of 1938 and qualifies a vintage spirit. For example, a "Grande Fine Champagne" qualifies a Grande Champagne vintage cognac assembled with spirits that come solely from the Grande Champagne region.
On the other hand, the "Fine Champagne" appelation qualifies a cognac with at least 50% of Grande Champagne spirits and the rest from Petite Champagne.
The appelations by vintage.
A "Grande Champagne" or "Fine Grande Champagne" cognac is assembled with 100% Grande Champagne spirits.
A "Petite Champagne" or "Fine Petite Champagne" cognac is assembled with 100% Petite Champagne spirits.
A "Fine Champagne" cognac is the result of an assembly of Grande and Petite Champagne spirits with a minimum of 50% from Grande Champagne.
A "Borderies" or "Fine Borderies" cognac contains 100% of spirits from the Borderies area.
A "Fin Bois" or "Fine Fins Bois" cognac contains 100% of spirits from the Fins Bois area.
A "Bons Bois" ou "Fine Bons Bois" cognac contains 100% of spirits from the Bons Bois area.