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  • Cognac and Armagnac prices to increase again in 2013

    We have already had notification of some key cognac price increases and much as we have been saying all year, the wholesale cognac prices are currently set to rise by more than 14 % in 2013. Price rises will not be the same right across our range since some people are not so concerned with the wholesale prices or, as in the case of some of our suppliers, are linked in with ongoing contracts that will restrict the increases.

    Young cognac prices rising the most in 2013

    The biggest increases will be in the younger and lower cost cognacs, where the demand in China is greatest and where Hennessy, Martell and Remy Martin are currently supplying more than is being made to these markets. At the moment the big houses are buying almost anything they can get their hands on and although most is on contract, that left is increasing in price fast. At Hermitage Cognacs we will endeavour to maintain current prices as long as possible but it is inevitable that they will have to go up next year.

    Armagnacs prices - buy now to avoid big rises in 2013!

    However, if we are worried about cognac prices, armagnac prices are going up even faster! Again the Chinese are to blame as they recognise the value of vintages and as with cognacs, when a vintage has run out it cannot be replaced. Some of the finest vintages can be found on our website - we have the biggest range of Delord Armagnacs and Castarede in the country. Other good vintages can be found amongst the wide selection of  Chateau de Bordeneuve and Clos des Saveurs armagnacs that are available to buy online..

    Many vintages have now completely run out and customers seeking very special vintages are advised to buy now.


  • Cognac Masters 2012 award-winning cognacs now available to Chinese importers

    Hermitage Cognacs have introduced two new luxury cognacs under the name Siécle d’Or for their export customers. The Provenance 10 year old and Provenance 20 year old Siécle d’Or cognacs come from our new base in Segonzac, Grande Champagne - and both have already won gold medals at the 2012 Cognac Masters!

    These fine cognacs are designed for the Chinese markets and can be shipped in mixed container quantities. Plans for a Provenance 6 year old and a special presentation Provenance 25 in a special carafe and presentation box for key customers are already underway.

  • Chinese Fake Brandy Market is Booming - HK$1000 for €1 Bottle of Grape Brandy

    The Bottle is King, or so the big houses would have us believe. So much so that selling I year old grape brandy, bought for less than 1 euro a bottle,  set in some very fancy glassware and presentation boxes and then sold for HK$1000 (about £90). At least that is the price of one brandy offered by a big Chinese distributor.

    Is it surprising that the market is flooded by fake products? One Cognac negoçiant suggested that as much as 80% of the Chinese market is fake and if that is so, then there is a lot of room in the market for the real thing.

    Clearly the industry is suffering with these figures, as more real cognac could be shipped in place of the fake products. So what is the industry doing about it? Well not a lot, or so it seems.

    Clearly with big pressures on cognac stock, the big houses probably don’t even care, as they are selling all that is available at the moment. The real problems will come when the market turns away from cheap and fake products and turns to other products such as whisky - as was the case in Taiwan. That too was once a big cognac market!

    Brandclassics believe it's what's inside the bottle that's important, and our carefully selected range of exceptional cognacs reflects this view.

  • Some unusual brandies from South Africa

    The big exhibitions are always good places to see the latest innovations in the brandy world and the recent Vinexpo in Hong Kong has been to say the least, an interesting experience...

    One such new brandy comes from South Africa. We met the firm by accident one evening after the doors of the exhibition had closed and they explained to us how they made their brandies, which are effectively a by-product from their wines. We went back the next day and tasted their brandy and after the initial shock of sweetness discovered that apart from making wines and brandies they also made honey, which they used to take away the aggressive fiery flavour of the young spirit.

    It was a truly interesting experience since during the tasting we also discovered that they were distilling up to about 84 degrees of spirit. We were able to help them here and they will be changing distillation technique in the future and lowering the distillation range to prevent burning the brandy. They have promised to send us some, so watch this space!

  • Alarming increase in exports of young Cognacs

    Sales of cognacs, fuelled mainly by the massive demand for brandy products leapt 20% in the first six months of 2012. This represents an increase of approximately €200 million over last year. We have to ask, can we maintain this sort of growth when we are currently producing and selling cognacs that don’t have enough time to age sufficiently for their flavour to develop properly?

    Cognacs from the top cru, Grande Champagne are the slowest to age and most producers prefer not to bottle them until they are at least ten years old. Naturally, we have to sell younger cognacs and the slow addition of water becomes a necessity. But at the moment the big four are buying cognacs at 2-3 years old and the quantity of young cognacs they are buying is increasing rapidly as is the prices we are having to pay for them.

    The truth is that the increase in sales, mainly to China, means that the quality of these cognacs gets poorer every year and the levels of additives are increasing.

  • More than 70% of Chinese Brandies are Fake Products

    The Hong Kong Vinexpo Exhibition took place last month and both Hennessy and Martell were notable absentees. The sale of brandies in China has reached such large proportions that the big houses are now unable to meet the demand of Chinese markets. Admittedly, much of the talk is speculation, but clients are openly asking for supplies of fifty containers to supply their customers. Shipments of cognac are increasing massively as the Chinese middle class growth is expected to increase by 50% by 2015.

    Sales of imported spirits into China, which includes some whisky, currently stand at 4 million cases. But this is small compared to the local firewater called Baijiu. Sales stand at 900 million cases and the average person drinks 11.6 litres of spirits a year!

    The Chinese are keen to associate luxury drinks, particularly cognac with success and successful young professionals often build bars in their houses and stock them with luxury cognacs. Indeed the Chinese perception of luxury is more to do with the shape of the bottle rather than its contents. It is this very point that is the nub of the problem in China, where cheap brandies can be put into attractive bottles and sold at high prices.

    Unfortunately the cognac industry is largely to blame with their use of generic titles such VSOP and XO.  This has created a valueless perception of what we are now selling, merely a strong coloured spirit in a fancy bottle. How much better would it be if we educated our customers to taste the difference between new and old and good and bad? This way they can recognize value and slow the fake markets.

    All Hermitage Cognacs come with age statements and guaranteed provenance. Should a discerning Cognac buyer wish to sample a genuine luxury cognac, below are just a few examples from the exceptinoal Hermitage range.

  • New Remy Martin and Bacardi Cognacs launched for 2012

    It seems that there is always somebody who sees potential in a new cognac and sure there are a lot of cognac distillers out there and many negoçiants.

    Take for example D’Ussé Cognac by Bacardi. It is a VSOP Cognac in an unusual bottle and is described “an interesting mix of medieval bourgeois and somehow a bit rough”! Then there is a range from Deau, again in smart bottles, there is Deau XO, Deau Black and the top of the range Deau Louis Memory, all are blended and quite expensive.

    Remy Martin have introduced their Centaure de Diamant in a sort of cut diamond shaped bottle; it is said to be one down from their Louis XIII. It is a blend of 300-400 best cognacs. Pity about the cognacs - but the bottles are nice!

    Could we suggest that rather than trying these bland, mass-produced Cognacs, delight your tastebuds with one of the many exceptional single-product Cognacs that we stock? Out Hermitage 10 year old is always popular...

  • Dry summer leads to poor harvest in Charente

    The weather has again dominated the news in the Charente, The long dry summer spell has meant the grapes have failed to fill adequately for a really good harvest. This is a particularly rare occurrence as it coincided with lots of rain after the flowers had set and the grapes started to form, which led to difficulties with disease from mildew and rot. This meant that the vines had to be sprayed regularly to prevent disease spreading, but then came the sun!

    The summer just got hotter and drier and the long period of hot sunshine that followed was initially what we all needed,. But you can have too much sun and the current predictions on the grape yield is likely to be between 15 – 25% down on last year. This news is not what we want to hear especially, with the demand for young eau de vie being so high. We will keep our fingers crossed!

    The Charente region produces some exceptionally fine Pineau's, which are a real treat if you've never tried it before. Some of our very old rare vintage Cognacs also originate in this region. So whether your budget is under £20 or over £10,000, we hope you'll enjoy drinking the fruits of previous years' more abundant grape harvest.

  • Brandyclassics opening Company in Cognac

    Move to develop easier International shipments

    Over the years we have gradually expanded our stores and offices but with the potentially massive markets in China and the Far East developing,  we have decided to ship to these markets direct from where the cognacs are made. Sales of cognacs to China have grown massively in the last few years and we have had many enquiries for our Hermitage cognac range. Our facility in France will be associated alongside one of our key distributors near Segonzac in the very heart of Grande Champagne which is the top cru of Cognac.

    The opening of the company in France will enable us to handle the taxation and duty more easily, thus avoiding shipping through UK bonding facilities, saving both cost and time. It will enable us to load larger shipments and send them direct to their destinations - this will be particularly attractive to the Far East markets. Initially the facility will be just offices and stores for holding the cognacs, but this gives us the opportunity to develop and install much larger tanks for holding cognacs. When shipping larger orders to the Far East, the need for holding thousands of litres of cognac becomes critical. We measure and buy cognac by the hectoliter of pure spirit, that is to say 100 litres at 100% alc. Of course it is never at that strength, but for taxation purposes it is essential we know how much alcohol we are moving at any one time. One hundred litres of pure spirit is the equivalent of 357 70cl bottles of cognac at 40% alc. So, if as hoped we are able to ship full containers - which are the equivalent of 900 cases of 12 bottles - we will require more than 2800 litres of pure spirit or 7000 litres at 40% - a not insignificant quantity!


  • Crisis in Cognac - Not Enough Cognac for Customers Orders

    Cognac distributors in China are failing to obtain sufficient stocks to fulfill demand. Many producers in Cognac are under pressure to supply valuable stocks to major negoçiants for blending in VSOP, XO blends. The shortage of supply is forcing prices up and leading to higher costs of new cognacs. Thousands of distillers all over the region are being asked to supply even younger cognacs for blending with inevitable loss of quality. Industry body the Bureau National Interprofessionel du Cognac (BNIC) said more than five bottles were sold every second in 2011, the total number of bottles sold rose by 6.4% to 162.9 million.

    The Far East, which accounted for more than one-third of demand, was the biggest and fastest-growing market, with volumes up 14.4%. Sales in China alone rose by 20%, the BNIC figures reveal. Growth in Europe was more modest, with the region’s volume sales edging up by 0.4% to 46.9m bottles, while demand in North America rose 3.2% to 50.8m bottles.

    Speaking to Reuters, Rémy Cointreau chief executive Jean-Marie Laborde spoke of his optimism for the coming year and his belief that the recovering US market coupled with the rapid growth in Asia will help counteract the continuing economic struggles in Europe. Laborde said that sales in the October-December period in particular had exceeded expectations, mainly due to increased Cognac shipments ahead of the Chinese New year. Is big brand optimism good for cognac? Certainly not for quality!

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