Very Superior Old Pale (VSOP)
Definition - What does Very Superior Old Pale (VSOP) mean?
VSOP is a label on cognac which can mean “reserve” or “very superior old pale,” that denotes a high-quality blend of young brandy. This younger blend is made and then aged for a minimum of four years in wooden barrels before blending. When the eau-de-vie (young brandy) is blended this earns the name VSOP but the quality of the brandy depends on how long it is aged after blending, which can vary from 8-15 years.
WineFrog explains Very Superior Old Pale (VSOP)
For VSOP cognacs, the longer they are aged, the higher quality they become but the only requirement for this labeling is that they are blended with younger brandy that ranges from two to four years old. Once the cognacs are blended, they are aged in wooden barrels, typically made of oak, for a minimum of eight years. The typical average ranges between 10 to 15 years.
It is this long aging process that distinguishes very superior old pale from other blends and makes it a 5-star or reserve cognac. The French government is responsible for regulating the quality distinction of these terms, however, they are in English, because historically, the importers of cognac spoke English.
There are three other labels that exist for Cognac that denote their quality in accordance with the time the Cognac spends in its cask; "Very Special" (VS), "Extra Old" (XO), and Hors d'Age (aka beyond age).