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  • Cognac sales exceed €2 billion in the last twelve months

    Sales of cognac have risen 21 per cent in value to record levels. Sales figures to the end of July 2011 show that more than €2 billion worth of cognac has been sold in the previous 12 months.  This is mainly due to the huge rise in worldwide exports.

    Volume wise the increase is 11.5 per cent and stands at 161.5 million bottles. This means that in terms of value, cognac sales are at the highest point since appellation records began, and in terms of volume have almost reached the record breaking year to October 2007. The BNIC has, of course, welcomed these figures which show how dynamic the area’s export is.  However, they urge everyone to remain cautious as financial uncertainty in the USA and Europe continues to rock the world.

    These record breaking cognac sales figures have been obtained in a time that is very favourable to the product – but the continuing worldwide instability means it is difficult to predict the future. With Chinese, Russian and American sales volumes all increasing, it doesn’t look as if sales will fall any time soon!



  • 110 Hectares of Fins Bois sold to Russian Vodka Producer from St Petersburg

    It seems that the Russians are moving into Cognac as several growers and cognac houses have sold out to Russian interests.

    The latest to do so is Jacky Chat, whose 110 hectares of vines are divided into 18 plots over the communes of Beauvais sur Matha and Veraize et Migron. M. Chat sells all his eau de vie to Hennessy so does not have any under his own label. He started his business in 1963 with just 6 hectares and has gradually built it up from there. M. Chats let it be known a few months ago that he was selling his estate, but the Cognaçais (La Cagouillards - Snails), failed to take advantage of the opportunity.

    The new Russian owner has asked M. Chat to remain with the company for a few years so that they can continue to sell their wines to Hennessy, who have bought from the estate in past years. This is the sixth company in this area to have fallen to the Russians, and includes such names as the Domaine Jennsen a Bonneuil, Domaine Broix a Touzan and A de Fussigny. The area is close to the old estate in Bonneville belonging to the Comtesse de La Bourdeliere and from where the famous old Massougnes were made. A number of other houses are also now owned by Russians including Croizet Cognac!


  • Remy Cointreau Asian Sales Increase

    Remy Cointreau’s revenue for the year ended 31 March 2011 grew 12%, driven by demand for Cognac in Asia and their travel retail business. It appears that cognac sales have risen 20% to €486 million throughout all their sales regions, but Asia have shown the largest growth, most notably in China where the market is buying everything it can get its hands on. China is currently the fastest growing sector of the cognac industry. Remy’s other brands did not do so well, with Metaxa sales declining and Mount Gay rum staying flat.

    It appears that the Chinese are moving forward at an amazing rate with their willingness to buy cognacs. Their insatiable demand for luxury spirits is causing a big problem with producers, who are struggling to keep the older stocks in their cellars for maturation, as legal requirements do not protect cognacs after six and a half years of age.

    Remy are not alone in their quest to sell to the Chinese markets, Hennessy lead the field as the biggest cognac supplier in China and the Far East, with Martell and Courvoisier following on behind. Only America has greater volume sales, but the highest value markets are dominated by the Chinese.


  • Recent Find of Rare Cognacs

    Visiting France again last week to locate more vintage cognacs, we were delighted to have found a number of exceptionally fine brandies. Top of our list is a seventy year old cognac from the region around Juillac la Coq. There is not a large quantity, some sixty litres in all, but it is exceptionally rare and we expect to be able to obtain at least half of it, which we are hoping to be sold as a special presentation.

    We have also identified a fabulous 2002 vintage with an aroma and flavour of clover honey. This cognac is at over 60% and will have to be brought down, but we still feel that despite having to wait over a year for it to come down to around 50% alc it is worth waiting for. Indeed we will probably have to bring it down more to around 45-47% for it to be at its best.

    Another cognac which requires some modest dilution is a very rare 1914 Borderies Cognac - this has a wonderful old toffee and roast walnut aroma and taste, it should be ready in about three months for drinking and will be a winner. We have one bonbonne of it at present but there are two more, so here’s hoping!

    We have recently sold our last bottle of 1900 and were also pleased to obtain a further bonbonne from around Cognac. It is at 44.3% but we feel that this is about the right strength for the brandy and is available now.

  • High Summer, Time For Pineau!

    Why, oh why do we in Britain have such a love of Pineau des Charentes but never seem to drink it? In a generation of tasting this rich aperitif from the Charente region, I have only come across one person who has failed to like it, saying it was too sweet. Pineau is sold in this country as both an aperitif and a dessert wine. It is made from 25% eau de vie, to which regional grape juice is added (the Charente being rather rich in fine grape varietals particularly of the red type).

    Apart from the wonderful Chateau de Beaulon five year old red and white Pineau’s,  and a 1995 vintage matured in Yquem barrels, we have introduced a truly delicious rosé from Bertrand. It is a 7 year old pineau and has an aroma and taste reminiscent of rose hips - it is really magical. But do remember to drink Pineau really cold!

    To attract the ladies try a Pineau Royale. Mix half a bottle of white Pineau with half a bottle of fizzy mineral water, the juice of a couple of lemons, a decent shot of cognac and lots of ice, serve with lemon slices in tall glasses. Wow!

  • Visitor numbers at the World’s biggest wines and spirits exhibition, Vinexpo, fall short of expectations.

    Vinexpo is the biggest wines and spirits exhibition in the world. It is held in Bordeaux every other year and on alternate years is held in Hong Kong.

    Although the official figures showed a 3% increase in visitor numbers, numbers of European visitors were down with the exception of visitors from the UK. Visitors from China and South East Asia, as well as visitors from Russia were up. The Chinese are generally increasing in wealth and are becoming much more aware of fine wines and spirits (and many Chinese have a cultural relationship with cognacs since they indicate wealth and prosperity). The Russians too have seen an increase in their wealth and have become much more enthusiastic about embracing fine wines and spirits.

    Probably the biggest factor that has kept Europeans away is the proximity to the big German exhibition, Prowein, held this year in the beginning of March. This date seen by many Europeans as far more acceptable, since it does not interfere with the summer marketing and sales campaigns for the coming autumn. The Italians also have an exhibition in the Spring, but the Bordeaux exhibition has other difficulties - most notably, the lack of suitable accommodation in the area.


  • High Spring Temperatures are drying the grapes, causing problems for Brandy production

    The hot Spring weather has created many problems in the Charente Vineyards. Temperatures of more than 35 degrees have had a severe effect on this year’s grape harvest. The sun has scorched the grapes, drying them and changing them to little more than sultanas.

    Temperatures in the Charente of this magnitude are unusual and can be particularly harmful at this stage of their growth. A 52 year record temperature of 40 degrees was recorded in one vineyard and many producers are severely worried that grape harvests will be drastically reduced as a result of the heat. And as if the heat is not enough, record low rainfalls have also created additional problems with hungry insects and beetles causing additional spraying to prevent infestations.

    One grower suggested that vineyard yields this year could be down by as much as 40% and if that happens, there will be serious shortages of wines for distillation...

  • Cognac Vineyard Prices unchanged

    Figures released today by La Fédération Nationale des Safer (SAFER), the national inventory of land transactions and prices which includes vineyards, is indicating that whilst there is little movement in vineyard prices from last year, there are many vineyard owners who would like to sell some or part of their land if it was possible.

    Land in the cognac region is relatively cheap when compared with the land in such regions as St Emillion, where figures as much as 200,000€  are around six times higher than those in Cognac at about 35,000€ a hectare. Perhaps more worrying is the number of vineyard owners seeking to sell their land at a time of cognac shortages across the industry.

    Current demand for cognac is far outstripping the supply and the major houses are supplying more and more younger stock to make up quantities. These mega firms have always in the past protected the producers by buying their cognacs and eau de vie, even when their demand is low - so what is happening? It appears that the big firms are deliberately buying younger cognacs in the main to keep margins acceptable. Many smaller producers do not have agreements with the big houses. With new cognacs becoming harder to obtain, shouldn’t  the big firms be looking to the longer term, supporting growers?

    Brandyclassics' range of Hermitage Single Estate Cognacs are sourced from smaller producers, who are able to supply cognacs of the exceptional quality, age and unique character our customers demand.

  • Brandyclassics enter the Asian Cognac market

    For more than a year we have been discussing the potential trade opportunities in Asia. We were unfortunate last year as we had planned to enter trade through the food and wine exhibition in Singapore. Despite having set up all the display work for the show, we were scuppered at the last moment by a giant ash cloud looming overhead from Iceland and we were able to reach the show until the last day.

    This year we were helped by UKTI who set up a number of key players in the field. Our aspirations were for a single distributor who was able to supply Hermitage Cognacs to Hong Kong and Macau and we were presented with four possible distributors who were already supplying that market with upmarket wines and other spirits.

    The Asian market for cognacs is currently very strong, but we were surprised and highly delighted that all four of the potential distributors have agreed to buy Hermitage Pure Vintage Cognacs and supply them to their customers in the region, with two of them even working over the border into mainland China. We are optimistic that the growth of Hermitage Cognacs into the luxury Chinese markets will further our range of top cognacs to our existing customers.


  • Chinese want Hermitage Cognacs now

    We have recently returned from Hong Kong where we have been working closely with UKTI in setting up distribution of Hermitage Pure Vintage Cognacs. Our visit included meetings with four specialist luxury drinks distributors who have now tasted and explored the possibilities of selling Hermitage cognacs to their customers. They are all involved with sales to the luxury sector of the Hong Kong hotels and restaurants markets and their clients are excited at being able to buy non generically labelled cognacs for the first time.

    Brandyclassics expect to be receiving their first orders from Hong Kong within weeks. Many of their clients are already considering the higher priced cognacs and our Hermitage 43 year old, 1975 Grande Champagne and 1900 are already firm favourites.

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