Next time you go to Cognac pop into any producer and ask them who is next door and they won’t know, but ask them if they know George Roullet and the answer will either be a look, suggesting you should leave the premises quickly, or a fit of laughter. Roullet Fransac is situated on the quay next to Hennessy in Cognac. It therefore offers clients visiting Hennessy a chance to browse around the dusty shelves of its premises for an alternative to the sticky, sugary, caramel offerings next door. George would buy his cognacs from local chais in Grande Champagne, including his old family firm in Cherminac. Admittedly, he had some good cognacs but whether George ever knew what was good and what was not so good is debatable but what he did know, even when enjoying his Paris apartment, was a good deal. As the CEO of one famous old house once said, “George is George”. No doubt George did a good deal with the Chinese, he had tried with many others! In all probability the house of Hine, who have just sold the firm to the Nicolas family for circa €50m, will have done a rather different deal; the Nicolas family know what is really good!
Luxury website ‘VeryFirstTo’ chose our Duret 1810 Cognac as the key ingredient in their luxurious Christmas Pudding offer last month. The creator was famous chef Martin Chiffers, recently Executive Pastry Chef of The Savoy Hotel and now with his own premises in Tokyo. Comprising the finest organic ingredients, including Agawa dates and rare Mamra almonds from Iran, the pudding also included a highly collectible, gold, Henry VI Salut d’Or coin which depicts the Virgin Mary and our Duret 1810, a supreme example of pre-phylloxera cognac originating from the firm of James Duret over 200 years ago. Retailing at £23,500 this exclusive Christmas pudding was intended for the most sumptuous of Christmas banquets which, it has to be said, is where our prestigious selection of Very Old Cognacs belong.
An insightful article about choosing your cognac by Olly Smith, journalist & TV Presenter in The Mail On Sunday this weekend:
You can buy his Hermitage personal preferences below:
This year we thought that it would be a good idea to make the Christmas Thought count by offering you the opportunity to buy a gift which lets your friend or relative choose exactly what they like. After all, we have such a vast range of cognacs and brandies that in some cases you probably don’t really know exactly which they will most enjoy. In a way we have created this situation by offering our customers a uniquely individual and wide range of cognacs, armagnacs and other brandies with many styles, ages and vintages to choose from.
Gift Vouchers range in value from £10 to £100 and you can, of course, buy multiples to obtain the value you require. Just think how nice it would be for you to give something that your friends or relatives can use to celebrate so personally, in their own individual way..... They may prefer the 30 year old cognac with its smooth chocolaty and nutty flavour or perhaps the award winning 1975 Grande Champagne or, the 2000, a vintage that has nearly run out.
Christmas, is the ideal time to make your friends and family happy with a gift voucher from Brandyclassics, it makes sense and will save you the worry of foot slogging it
around the shops. Happy Christmas.
We have just added a new product line to our list. Domaine du Cardiant Bas Armagnac is available in a range of vintages - 1998, 1994, 1988, 1983, 1974, 1973 and 1954 - as well as a very sexy looking XO decanter. This exciting new Armagnac comes from the top Armagnac region and has already created a sensation at our works with its beautiful nutty and prune flavours. Its seriously good and well worth the price.
With the festive season soon to be upon us, we thought that a word or two from the Managing Director, about how to avoid the worst hangovers, wouldn’t go amiss…….
My grandmother used to say “drink a glass of milk to line your stomach", not sure if that worked but drinking a lot of water before you hit the bottle certainly helps as it dilutes the alcohol before it has time to absorb into the bloodstream. The alcohol causes the blood vessels to dilate, creating a comfortable warm flush but it also depresses the central nervous system in the brain creating a relaxed feeling.
Unfortunately, alcohol also interferes with the secretion of some hormones which inhibit the flow of urine, so the kidneys send water directly to the bladder and you rushing to the loo - instead of reabsorbing it into the body. You only need to drink about 250ml of alcoholic drink for the body to expel up to four times as much liquid. Body water is essential so it will be stolen from the brain making it shrink and causing pain. The more alcohol you drink the more you start to feel sick. Constant urinating leads to a depletion of salts and potassium, and toxins irritate you stomach lining. Your stomach also produces hydrochloric acid so the nerves send a message to the brain that the stomach’s contents are hurting the body and must be expelled! Alcohol also interferes with the production of glutamine, a natural body stimulant. Whilst you are drunk, the levels of glutamine are low encouraging a deep sleep however, the body works hard to produce excesses of the stimulant. This increases brain activity which wakes you up and prevents you from reaching the deepest and most relaxing form of sleep, usually making you tired and hung over in the morning.
So what can we do the following morning to overcome the horrendous head pains and nauseous feeling? Vitamin C is said to be good and a couple of fizzy tablets also help but aspirin can make you feel worse as it affects the lining of your stomach. Coffee can have the same effect so probably water, or some juice, is best in large quantities and with food to help absorb more alcohol. One sure way to help things along is exercise, enough to make you sweat the alcohol out. Sure, it hurts in the short term but normality seems to come quicker the harder you go at it. For me though, I take the easy route, a really hot steam in a sauna for an hour works wonders!
Perhaps though, you should do as we do at Brandyclassics. We taste a lot of cognacs, as you would imagine, and after rolling it around our mouths, chewing it and making sure all parts of our mouths are suitably coated with the nectar, we spit it out! Seriously though do enjoy your Cognacs , there are a lot of different ones to taste so take it easy, you will enjoy them just that bit more.
Trading up to quality drinking occasions
Sales of premium spirit brands in the UK are growing at a much faster rate than in the total alcohol industry as consumers seek to ‘trade up’ to satisfy their need for less but better drinking experiences. This trend has been fuelled by continued austerity in Britain along with the government’s drive to curb the nation’s alcohol consumption. According to the First Drinks Market Report 2013, premium spirit sales have grown in value by 25% in the on-trade and 4% in the off-trade sectors. An influx of foreign wealth, particularly in London, is driving sales for prestige spirits. This increase in high net worth individuals has helped to drive growth at the ‘super’ and ‘ultra-premium’ end of the market, particularly with exquisite, aged cognacs.
Hermitage Cognacs were on top of the podium again in July 2013, this time at the highly prestigious International Wine and Spirits Competition. Recognising the wonderful quality of carefully aged, single estate cognacs, the judges placed both the Hermitage Segonzac 25 year Old Grande Champagne Cognac and the Hermitage Chez Richon 2000 Grande Champagne Cognac at the top of their respective classes and awarded them each a Gold Medal. These latest awards add to Hermitage Cognac’s vast medal haul to date which surely makes it one of the most successful Cognac Houses in existence.
Our export sales continue to increase but our business in Asia has recently had an added boost. Previous sales in Macau and China have been overtaken by our first contract in Thailand. The initial order is underway and agreement to ship a couple of containers annually is in the final stages. We are confident that it will be the start of a long and fruitful relationship with our Thai customers.
Not to be outdone, a delegation of Chinese businessmen is visiting Brandyclassics next month to negotiate a much larger and longer term contract which could amount to five containers per annum. This presents a significant expansion of our sales in China to date and indicates that the Chinese demand for top quality cognac continues unabated. Fortunately the French arm of our business, SARL Hermitage, is ideally placed to provide the infrastructure and logistic support required to fulfill such large, on-going orders.
Coupled with our current customers in Russia and the Middle East, including the Raffles Group and Jurmeirah Hotels in Dubai, this expansion in our export market certainly confirms our position as a truly global supplier of luxury, vintage cognac.
The harvest this year will start on the first week of October and the quantities allowed will be substantially greater than ever before. Technically we are allowed to produce nearly 20hl of pure spirit per hectare but this cannot ever be made as it would be impossible to grow enough grapes for such an optimistic target. However, it does at least show that the authorities are serious about increasing stock levels which we hope will save some of the older cognacs being used for the younger blends and allow an increase in overall quantity.
So far the quantities are looking good, as is the quality. We are expecting both the sugar levels and acidity to be good as well but the weather needs to be kind. Poor weather before the harvest could create a very different picture from that which we are currently anticipating. We need every drop we can make this year; we keep our fingers crossed!