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News

  • Pineau des Charentes set to take the US by Storm

    area of Pineau des Charentes productionThis summer, the Pineau des Charentes Committee launched its first marketing campaign in the US.  Americans, already enjoy the truly craft, French cognac so are expected to embrace this little-known relative.  Pineau des Charentes is produced exclusively in the French Charentes region and gained the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée status in 1945.  There are now about 500 producers. Pineau is made by adding freshly pressed grapes to newly distilled cognac eau-de-vie, at a ratio of about 3:1.  It must be aged in oak for at least a year and can be white or rosé.   Some producers, such as Chateau de Beaulon, still refer to their pineau as red.  Made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes, it is ruby red in colour, rather than pink.

    While Pineau is fruity and light, Old and Vintage Pineau offer a complex mix of flavours such as nuts, honey and dried fruits.  An artisanal, authentic drink, Pineau des Charentes is completely natural with no sugar added.  It combines the fruitiness of wine with the warmth of cognac and is best served cold.  Try it as an aperitif, in a cocktail or as a dessert wine.

  • Organic Cognac Production is Increasing

    Today, less than 1% of the Cognac appellation is farmed organically, but the number of producers using these methods is increasing.  To make organic cognac a farmer must cultivate his grapes organically for at least 3 sequential years.  That means no chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilisers.  Instead farmers must rely on pre-war farming methods.  For example the use of copper and sulfur, nettle and horsetail infusions, mechanical weed removal and manure and compost fertilisers.  The application of manure and freshly grown fertilisers such as barley and faba beans certainly enriches the precious "terroir".  Organic farmers claim that their cognacs produce different aromas.  We have yet to be convinced but public demand for the green "organic" certification is on the increase.  Even the big houses ask their producers to not use weed killer and employ more sustainable farming methods.  So, although only a few have chosen to qualify for certification, many more, such as Chateau de Beaulon are employing some organic methods, which can only be good for the "terroir" in the years to come.

  • Spirits Education for the Customer

    Trade Training"I am delighted to see that more and more businesses are recognising that education and well-trained staff are the foundations to better customer service and stronger profits," says the CEO, Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET).  The WSTA concur stating that "consumers are increasingly favouring more premium brands". We have always maintained that spirits education is key to the sale of our luxury brandies.  There is a specific Trade Training page on our website and regular newsletters and Blogs ensure up to date industry news is frequently publicised. Those wishing to go one step further will be interested in the new improved Level 2 WSET Award in Spirits.  Also trying to educate the customer is the #ForwardDrinking campaign which launches next month.  It aims to target industry taboos such as 'retros' (when brands pay for bar listings) and 'pay-to-play' schemes (when brands offer monetary incentives, or otherwise, to gain a retail listing).  Maverick Drinks, who initiated the campaign, said "We don't want people using our product because there's a deal attached, we want them to use it because it's a great spirit".  Hear, hear, just what we were thinking.

  • Hermitage Grande Champagne 1966 Cognac

    1966 CognacLast year we sold out of the very popular Hermitage Grande Champagne 1966 Cognac.  It is now back in stock, though from a different barrel.  The quality is the same but the flavours and strength differ slightly.

    Amazing, subtle aromas of pear, mangosteen and hay combine with complex flavours of almond lychee, macademia nuts and pink grapefruit.  This is an unusual but delicious cognac with charm and elegance.

  • The Charente Scene - Autumn 2017

    Harvest in The Charente

    The CharenteHarvest this year in the Charente region was particularly early.  It started on 10th September when historically, the average date is 23rd September.  According to the BNIC it is expected to be the smallest harvest since 1945 due to various weather conditions, in particular the late frost in May.  They say that the vineyards not damaged by frost can expect 110 to 120 hectolitres per hectare of wine, whereas the frozen vineyard areas will only make 40 to 50 hl/ha - normally, the average is over 100 hl/ha.  Our friends in the region tell us that even though they escaped the frost, the skins are tough and the grapes have not filled out much due to lack of sunshine.

    BNIC

    Better news may come from the BNIC shortly as they are looking for a new president.  The bookies favourite is Patrick Raguenaud, the president of Grand Marnier.

  • Cognac House Hine Changes Hands

    Hine CognacThe famous cognac house of Hine has had a colourful past.  After 6 generations of family ownership, the company was sold to the Distillers Company.  Later it was bought by Möet Hennessy and then CL World Brands.  Probably not the future that British-born founder Thomas Hine had intended.  Although Bernard Hine has, since 1963, continued to be involved, the company missed the benefits family ownership brings.  Its recent sale to French family firm, EDV SAS, has therefore been welcomed with open arms.  Returning to family values with recognition of the longevity of the production process, Hine has been able to rediscover its origins.  New releases of 'early-landed', being developed for travel retail, and single­ estate vintage cognac demonstrate where it's heading.  This, coupled with its fresh, youthful new packaging, H by Hine, illustrates the company's desire to progress yet retain its core values, something many cognac houses have lost.

    Hine is not the only cognac house to have changed hands recently though.  Ivory Coast footballer, Olivier Tebily, bought his first vineyards as a teenager.  Acutely aware of the fragility of his chosen profession he planned to one day produce cognac.  Buying vineyards as an outsider is a tricky business but he took his search seriously and made good friends along the way. One of them, the son of his neighbour, tragically died leaving no heir to the family estate so when the father wanted to sell his 22 acres, Olivier was the obvious choice.  Good to see an injection of fresh blood occasionally!

  • New 20Cl Cognac Gift Presentations

    20Cl CognacWe have just extended our range of Hermitage Cognac 20Cl Gift Presentations.  They can be purchase in box sets of two on the website.  If you cannot see the combination that you require, just phone or email us. with your preference.

    Many of the finest and rarest cognacs are hardly ever tasted since the prices are often beyond the reach of many cognac devotees.  This new presentation gives more cognac fans the opportunity to enjoy these wonderful old nectars.   Ideal for drinking either on ones own, or with friends.

    You can choose two 20Cl bottles from the following Hermitage Vintage Cognacs:

    1900                                1956                                   1967                                50 year old

    1914                                 1957                                  1987                                60 year old

    1917                                 1966                                   43 year old                   70 year old

    Some vintages are in very limited supply so don't miss this amazing opportunity to try some wonderfully aged cognac from years ago.

  • Our Vintage Brandies Range From 1900 - 2005

    We Have Every Single Year From 1930 - 1994

    Brandies from every yearWe specialise in supplying vintage brandies for special occasions.  Cognac, armagnac and calvados originate in France and we select only the very best.  The range has been expanding since we started out more than a quarter of a century ago.  It now spans over a century.

    Our stocks include a vintage for every single year from 1930 to 1994 – that’s 65 years of birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions which can be marked with something truly special.  Vintage brandies were harvested in the year they were labelled and then aged, untouched in casks for many years.  Single estate, single cask and no additives – just pure brandy – the perfect way to celebrate.

  • Why Choose Cognac As Your Spirit?

    choose cognacFor the last three centuries cognac has been almost universally recognised as the finest of all the hundreds of spirits distilled from grapes. So why should you choose cognac?  For sheer depth and intensity, fruitiness, subtlety of bouquet, warmth and complexity of flavour and length of time for which the taste lingers on the palate, cognac remains incomparable. The ability to extract so much of the essential flavour from the grape is no accident. It involves possessing the right soil and climate and choosing the right grape varieties.  Appropriate distillation methods must be used.  Then, the inherent quality must be enhanced through long storage in the right kind and size of oak cask.  And the storage conditions must be right - damp and dark.

    choose cognacThere is no other spirit in the world that can compare with the sophistication, complexity and length of time it takes to produce a bottle of cognac. It’s flavours and supreme quality are the result of generations of skills handed down over the centuries.  Unlike white spirits, cognac offers an incomparable range of natural flavours derived from a fruit grown in near perfect conditions and when, after decades, it is bottled it can become a most valuable prize.  There is no other spirit that offers such complexity and interest in its many stages of production, no wonder cognac is known as The King of all Spirits.

  • Another Historic Cognac Vintage - 1947

    We are delighted to announce the addition of yet another Hermitage Ville Ancienne cognac to our range.  This particular vintage is proving to be a rarity.  Hermitage 1947 Grande Champagne Cognac has flavours of sweet spices, ripe medlars, muscat grapes, ripe plums and cocoa. Superbly balanced, it has developed a good rancio.  We don’t expect it to be available for long!

    This cognac was distilled 70 years ago in 1947.   That year, George Marshall outlined the ‘Marshall Plan’ which set out to rebuild Western Europe after the second World War. Also, the future British Queen, Princess Elizabeth II wed Lt Philip Mountbatten in Westminster Abbey, London.

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