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  • The Charente Scene - Autumn 2013

    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!

  • Drinks with a Difference

    The wonderful 1995 Pineau des Charentes from Chateau de Beaulon is the finest example of vintage Pineau we have tasted. Its rich peach and honey flavour is totally unique, as it has been aged in casks which contained a very famous sauterne wine.

    Pineau is made from grape juice which is added to the eau de vie before aging in oak casks. Both red and white pineau are made from the indigenous grapes of the region. Another glorious example from Chateau de Beaulon is their 5 year old white pineau which is made from chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. It’s perfect for making Pineau Royale, a long drink that will surpass even the finest Pimms on warm sunny evenings!

    Other great mixers include Crème à la Fraise des Bois for your pink champagne and the magical Liqueur de Framboises for a Kir Impérial.

  • The Charente Scene - Summer 2013

    It seems that the French are almost paranoid about their holiday.  It starts in July and they gradually come back to reality at the end of August when there is so much to do one is lucky to be able to talk to them, let alone visit, for the following month. Of course at SARL Hermitage we carry on and this year we are hoping to be busy with orders from other countries. It is true to say that unless there is inclement weather, there is little to do in the vineyards at this time. Last year it rained all through the summer in France and there was a real risk of rot setting into the grapes so spraying was the name of the game.  We still managed to get good yields so let’s hope this year is even better!

  • Appealing to the younger Cognac drinker

    Cognac houses have long been seeking ways to lure younger drinkers back to the spirit.  Cognac cocktails are becoming increasingly popular but in their creation, the uniqueness of the cognac is lost.  Recognising this problem Tessendier & Fils, who take pride in their single estate vintages, are trialling another idea.  They have teamed up with Michelin-starred chef Thierry Verrat to produce Cognac and Caviar matching.  Three small caviar dishes are paired with different cognacs that have been chilled.  The cognac takes the place of more traditional vodka and by chilling it the alcohol intensity is cut and the taste buds open up more.  In this way the cognac becomes part of a combination and introduces consumers to a new way of enjoying it.  An idea worth trying…..?

  • New Stocks of Vintage Armagnacs

    We are continually adding to our extensive range of vintage brandies and our armagnac stocks are no exception.  Recently in receipt of scarce vintages from the 1960s, we now boast an exclusive selection of every vintage from that decade.  Our complete range of vintage armagnacs extends from 1914 to 1990 providing a wealth of individually aged and rapidly dwindling vintages, ideal for celebrating any occasion.  Created in the rural idyll of Gascony, their fruitiness and rich pruny flavours have become increasingly popular in recent years causing their rarity and value to soar.

  • Gifts for special occasions

    We pride ourselves at Brandyclassics in only selling the finest and oldest cognacs and armagnacs available.  These wonderful nectars have been carefully selected from single estate distillers and all are of vintage quality or have rigorous age statements, we know that they will make perfect presents for your special celebrations.   Whatever the occasion, be it a wedding anniversary, birthday or special celebration day, we have the perfect gift for you on our newly launched Occasion Gifts page.

    Age statements and vintages are recognised by our discerning customers as providing extraordinary quality and individuality, unlike the generic, highly blended VS, VSOP and XO cognacs.  So, if you have a 30th Birthday or Anniversary coming up, celebrate in style with our beautifully smooth Hermitage 30 yo Reaux Vintage Cognac, aged in oak barrels for 30 years before bottling, or our fresh and elegant Chateau de Beaulon Vintage1983 distilled 30 years ago.  Brandyclassics has the ideal gift for every celebration.


  • Cognac Supplier to Hotels - The Hermitage Experience

    Brandyclassics supply to some of the finest hotels in the world.  Alexander House, Burj al Arab, Claridges, Lanesborough, Raffles and The Wellesley to name but a few buy our Hermitage Cognacs to provide their customers with a level of individuality that is unique to their exclusive client base.  As suppliers to hotels and restaurants we recognise the need to find cognacs, armagnacs and other brandies which have vintage and age significance so that customers can associate anniversaries, birthdays and events in their lives with pure, single estate cognacs and appropriate age statements.

    When our customers buy Hermitage Cognacs they know that there are no better. They know that what they buy provides assurance to every one of their customers, not just in quality but in the knowledge that every customer will benefit from The Hermitage Experience, an experience unmatched by any other cognac.

    If you are looking for a reliable cognac supplier to provide the very best for your hotel or restaurant, please call us on +44(0)1225 963988.  For many years we've been helping hotel and bar managers find rare, interesting and exceptional cognacs, armagnacs and calvados to delight their clients.

  • Numbers on Bottles (Age Statements) -The value in the bottle

    Throughout drinking history the age of a bottle’s content has always been contentious, in particular for wines and spirits where age can represent a substantial part of the bottle value. Defining the age of a cognac has, for the vast majority of companies, become all but impossible as they have to buy and blend as many as 3000 different cognacs to meet their sales requirements. To clarify the situation, a set of rules was created by the governing body of cognac, the Bureau National Interprofessionel de Cognac (BNIC). They require cognacs to be aged in oak casks for a specific period of time in order to fall into one of three categories. The youngest is the VS where cognacs must have been aged for more than two years before bottling. The second category is called VSOP where cognacs need to be more than 4 years old and the third category is Napoleon and XO, both of which must be more than 6 years old.

    But cognac ages very slowly, especially when stored in the ideal conditions for the spirit, and it is this ageing process that gives it both colour and taste.  Perhaps even more significant is that depending on the region or cru where it is aged, some cognacs can take three or four times longer to acquire an acceptable quality. Cognacs from the Champagnes (Grande and Petit Champagne) may take as long as 50 to 80 years to reach the desired level of maturity and quality.  They have to be distilled at 70 degrees in the final distillation so the subsequent reduction in strength can be very slow and the flavour take time to develop. Additives are widely used by the big houses to improve the colour and to reduce the fiery nature of young spirits.

    At Brandyclassics our policy is to only buy cognacs where we know the age and where, particularly with young cognacs, the flavour is not impaired by their youthful aging. We refer to ages, for example a 10 year old where the cognac has been aged in an oak cask for 10 years, and vintages, for example 1975 where the cognac was made in that year and can be any number of years old up to the bottling date. Once the cognac has been bottled, or in the case of some very old ones stored in bonbonnes for later bottling, the quality and taste of each cognac will not change, unless the cork is left out for a considerable period.

    Of course, the value of the bottle of cognac with an age statement depends on a number of factors. Firstly, where the cognac comes from, if it is from the top cru, Grande Champagne then it will usually be of greater value than one from a lower cru, say Fins Bois or Bon Bois. Secondly, if the cognac is very old, it will have aged in cellars for a long time and that is expensive. Lastly, many vintage cognacs are in very short supply, particularly those that were made in the early 19th century.   For example where the cognac is very rare and has a story attached to it such as the Massougnes 1801 and 1805, the value can easily be between £10,000 and £150,000.  However, it is worth noting that with some younger cognacs the age of the cognac may be well short of the period between the date and the vintage on the bottle. So when buying old cognacs always try and establish the actual barrel age.  Hermitage Cognacs will always have a bottling date on the back label so that you can be sure how old the cognac is.

  • Asian demand forces cognac prices upwards

    Demand for cognac in China increased by another 15% last year with Singapore also seeing a 10% rise.   This continuing trend exerts even more pressure on a market which is already struggling to meet demand.   It is the Asian taste for superior, older (VSOP/XO) cognacs in particular, that is having such a tremendous effect on prices.  In 2012 the wholesale price of cognac rose by 14% and this year another 24% increase is expected.  Customers buying on the high street can therefore probably expect to pay around 15% more than they did last year.

    The growing demand is forcing big commercial negoçiants to blend younger cognacs for their products.  To meet customer expectation more additives are required, producing an inferior quality cognac vastly different from the pure, unique single estate varieties.

  • Minimum age of XO cognac debated - Regulation could change again

    In three years’ time the minimum age of XO cognac is set to change to 10 years in the cellar but this was agreed before the recent Asian cognac boom.  The Asian taste for luxury cognacs is already affecting supply of the older varieties so insisting that XO cognac must be aged another 4 years in barrels is unsustainable.  The poor availability of older cognacs means that the big four houses would be unable to supply sufficient quantity of the older XO cognacs required in the growing Asian market.  Their heavy influence on the ruling body is almost certainly going to see the decision revoked.  During the last decade we have seen the average age of XO cognacs decline sharply from up to 20 year old eaux de vie being used, to well under 10 year old, which is now the norm.

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