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  • The Charente Scene - Spring 2017

    The CharenteThe 31st of March in the Cognac region (also known as The Charente) is the last day in the year when cognacs may be distilled from the wines produced from the previous grape harvest. Most will have been distilled in the last part of 2016 but larger vineyards will have continued distilling through to this year. On the 1st of April, all the cognacs from the 2016 harvest will move from age ‘compte 00’ to ‘compte 0’. In one year’s time, they will become ‘compte 1’ and a year after that ‘compte 2’ etc.. The 2016 harvest was good and both quality and quantity are said to be above expectations - always music to our ears. However, most of it will be purchased by the big houses, probably in about a year’s time. Market demand for VS and VSOP is such that it will be blended along with thousands of others and probably sold around 2020.

  • The Place of Regulatory Bodies e.g. BNIC

    The Cesium Thought Leadership (CTL) panel met recently to discuss the role industry bodies play in shaping the drinks industry. They concluded that these bodies have 4 areas of influence: education, interdependency, unified thinking and lobbying. The regulatory body for cognac is BNIC logothe Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) whose mission is ‘to develop and promote cognac, representing the best interests of all cognac professionals including growers, merchants and members of other activities related to the cognac trade’. They control all stages of cognac production including the regulations required to manage the growing, wine making, distillation and ageing. Over the years their powers have increased and they now control market and sales information (both country by country and by product type) enabling them to manage government taxes and duties. In short, the BNIC manages every stage of cognac, from the vineyards to the end buyer and certainly covers the 4 areas of influence recognised by the CTL. This level of control definitely protects the industry from rogue trading but has also been criticised for stifling innovation. We wait to hear what the BNIC thinks about ‘Adding a Finish’ as suggested by Martell (see previously) – will others dare to follow?

    Read more about the BNIC on our Brandy Education page.

  • More Cognac Labelling Requirements - Calories and Nutrition?

    An EU Commission report has been welcomed by the drinks industry as, 2 years after MEPs voted for compulsory calorie labelling on alcoholic drinks, they have called upon the drinks trade to present a self-regulatory solution. Within 12 months calorie and nutritional information must be available to alcohol consumers - a ruling that came into effect for all other food and Cognac Labelling - Hermitage 1993beverages in 2011.  Will cognac labelling have to change?  Aware that label space is an issue, the WSTA is suggesting that hosting the information on-line rather than on-pack will be the most effective solution. It has offered alcohol calorie information on its website for the past 2 years. Nutritional information will perhaps be more of a challenge – should it include the ingredients that go into the production of the spirit or just the elements that can be identified in the bottle prior to sale? For small craft cognac producers, this will be an onerous task as each individual vintage or batch will have to be tested. For the big cognac houses, who produce masses of one blend, the task is relatively straight forward. However, they will no longer be able to hide from consumers the number and quantity of additives such as sugar syrup and caramel that are present.

  • Duck Season - Eating, Drinking & Other Misadventures in Gascony

    Gascony, FranceDavid McAninch has written this highly entertaining book about Gascony – “France’s Last Best Place” after an 8 month stay in the region. With interesting quotes such as “the quantity of armagnac produced in any given year is equivalent to the angel’s share—the volume of spirit lost to evaporation—of a year’s production of cognac” and “armagnac is to cognac what the Rolling Stones were to the Beatles” it makes fascinating reading for all fans of the amber nectar. Originally sent to research a story about a duck, his love of the local inhabitants and duck-rich cuisine led him to realise what he and so many other tourists had been missing.  Take a look at our vast range of vintage armagnacs and bring a piece of Gascony to your home.

  • Cognac In India?

    Cognac in IndiaOne of the 4 key spirit trends for 2017 is Cognac, according to The Drinks Business.  Its resurgence in China and the US was the story of last year and this year it is forecast to ‘continue shaking off complacency while creating the template for urgently needed further geographic diversification’.  One potential new market is India where historically they enjoy brandy in the south and whisky in the north.  In the last few years, the luxury market in India has been growing at a compounded annual growth rate of approximately 25%, reaching about $18 billion in 2016.  The country has many active wines and spirits clubs and there is an appreciation of brands with true heritage. The brand ambassador for Remy Martin has been investigating the Indian market. He comments that globally, Millienials are looking for rich, authentic spirits with a story behind them. Cognac in India is beginning to appeal so let’s hope that Remy are knocking on the right door.

  • Centenarian 1917 Cognac

    1917 Limited Edition CognacFor those with a century to celebrate this Limited Edition Hermitage 1917 Cognac is a must. Harvested during the First World War, this Grande Champagne cognac is powerful and complex and will delight any cognac lover. Only 27 bottles are available and for the month of April 2017, each one has an astonishing £100 OFF. Other vintages available for special anniversaries or birthdays this year include Hermitage 1967 Petite Champagne Cognac, Chateau Montifaud 1977 Petite Champagne Cognac and Hermitage 1987 Grande Champagne Cognac.  If 1947 is the vintage you're after, it will be arriving on our shelves very soon.  For even more choice, take a look at our vast range of vintage armagnacs and calvados too.

  • Mother's Day and Spring Celebrations

    March has lots of reasons to celebrate. The Celts can enjoy St David’s Day or St Patrick’s Day with daffodils and shamrocks symbolising the onset of spring. This floral theme is perfect also to celebrate International Women’s Day and of course Mother's Day on 26th March. All our March Offers have floral tones too - Raymond Ragnaud 35 Grande Champagne Cognac has been aged for 35 years and developed magnificent floral and rich, woody qualities. The visually stunning Pomme Captive Calvados has aromas of green apple, geranium and mint whilst the 5 year old Pineau des Charentes Rosé from Bertrand fills the air with a sweet aroma of rose hips.

    Fabulous gifts for those wanting to buy something extra special with just a hint of flowers.

  • Celebrate Chinese New Year 2017

    Looking forward to a new celebration? The Chinese New Year 2017 begins at the end of January and nothing could be better than celebrating with some warming and truly exceptional vintage cognac. As one of China’s favourite drinks, perfectly balanced, well-aged cognac will be the perfect toast wherever in the world you are.

    To help your celebrations go with a bang in January 2017, we have three of our most popular, luxury cognacs on offer. All from the Hermitage range, they have been aged, untouched, in oak barrels for either 25 years, 30 years or 43 years producing rich, smooth cognacs with individual flavours.

    In this, the Year of the Rooster, these cognacs are also strikingly handsome and difficult to ignore!

  • Max Cointreau Dies

    One of the most highly regarded names in the cognac industry, Max Cointreau, died on 19 October at his home in Gensac la Pallue, near Cognac aged 94. Max was joint managing director of Frapin, in the heart of Grande Champagne, having started his career in 1942 presiding over the Domaine Château de Fontpinot.

    In the early days, his firm worked closely with Remy Martin supplying many of their wines and eaux de vie. However, in the 1950s he refused to marry the elder daughter of Andre Renaud, of Remy Martin, choosing instead to marry her younger sister. This created a major disagreement and Remy therefter refused to buy their brandies from Frapin. Max lost control of Remy and Cointreau but managed to retain the prestigious Château Fontpinot.   He subsequently resurrected the family Frapin brand and in due course, the historic brand of Gosset Champagne too.

    Max served as President of the National Union of Liquor Manufacturers, President of the Social Commission of the National Council of Wine and Spirit for eight years and was appointed a Foreign Trade Advisor of France. He was also the Mayor of Gensac la Palue from 1969 to 2001 and awarded with the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, the highest decoration in France.

    Frapin has, in past years, produced some wonderful cognacs and memorable vintages; they are regarded highly in the industry with their fine Grande Champagne cognacs. Max Cointreau will be remembered as one of the patriarchs of the cognac industry.

  • Sazerac Buys Domaine Breuil de Segonzac Cognac

    Sazerac bought  Breuil de SegonzacSazerac, one of America’s oldest family owned, privately held distillers, has purchased Domaine Breuil de Segonzac Cognac located in the Grande Champagne region. The property is about 220 acres in size and the purchase includes the cognac distillery, organic vineyards and chateau-style mansion dating from 1870. “Given the roots of our company, we are very excited to add a cognac house to our family, especially one as historic and prestigious as this one,” said Mark Brown, CEO.  Sadly, many small cognac houses have been sold to foreign buyers in recent years but usually from Asia. This American investment was inevitable given the recent rise in popularity of cognac in the US. Thankfully the CEO added “We intend to continue the proud heritage and preserve its authenticity and character.”  We are always pleased to see small cognac houses, like Hermitage, remain successful.

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