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News from the Brandy Houses

  • The Charente Scene - Bisquit Sold

    BisquitAlexandre Bisquit established his famous cognac trading house in Jarnac in 1819.  When his daughter married Adrien Dubouché in 1848, his son-in-law’s name was added to the firm. It remained in family hands until the mid-60s when it was sold to Paul Ricard.  Latterly it was owned by Distell but earlier this year it was sold again, to the Campari group, for over 50 million Euros.  In many ways the purchase of Bisquit Dubouché by M. Ricard was the start of the firm’s real growth.  Not only did he buy the biggest chateau in the region, with more than 200 hectares of vines, he also built a massive distillery at Lignères which had 64 stills.  Bisquit cognacs have quite a nutty and fruity style which is admired by many in the industry (compare with our Hermitage 20 yo GC Cognac).  As with most of the medium to large-sized houses, their need for more cognacs grew over the years so they also buy in wine and ‘eau de vie’. What a shame that another cognac house has gone to one of the multi-faceted “sell it all” groups.

  • New Hermitage Cognac Celebration Vintages

    Hermitage Cognac Celebration VintagesWe are really looking forward to 2018 as two more Hermitage celebration vintages are added to our stores. An exceptional Borderies 1958 cognac was the first to arrive and it has just been joined by a rare, Grande Champagne gem from 1938. Wonderful, single estate, vintage cognacs but particularly special for those with a 60th or 80th celebration this year.

    The full range of Hermitage celebration vintages comprises:

    1928, 1938, 1948, 1958, 1988, with 1968 arriving next month.

    And if it’s armagnac you’re after, we have the following vintages in stock:

    1918, 1928, 1938, 1948, 1958, 1968, 1978, 1988, & 1998

  • The Fall of Menuet Cognac - A Sad Tale

    menuet cognacChinese customs officials have recently uncovered more than US$29m of smuggled spirits and here is the story behind the news ….. More than twenty years ago, in our quest to find top quality Grande Champagne cognacs, we stumbled upon a cognac house called Menuet. You may have seen their cognacs on our web site, the 50 year old was a particular star. Sadly, the firm became embroiled in financial difficulties and because we understood both the firm and others around, we were able to assist by finding another organisation which could provide support. Menuet recovered its position and continued to sell in international markets. In due course however, the owner decided to sell the company to a Chinese named Mr Yang - he used the Menuet brand name to sell brandies in bulk to China, seemingly without paying duty or tax. Apparently, he mixed small quantities of cognac with huge volumes of cheap grape brandy. That is, until it was discovered recently by Chinese customs ….. What is really upsetting about this story is that a highly respected name, that once supplied some of the finest cognacs we have tasted, has been ruined by an unscrupulous Chinese operator prepared to supply cheap brandy in Cognac 1er cru bottles.

  • Max Cointreau Dies

    One of the most highly regarded names in the cognac industry, Max Cointreau, died on 19 October at his home in Gensac la Pallue, near Cognac aged 94. Max was joint managing director of Frapin, in the heart of Grande Champagne, having started his career in 1942 presiding over the Domaine Château de Fontpinot.

    In the early days, his firm worked closely with Remy Martin supplying many of their wines and eaux de vie. However, in the 1950s he refused to marry the elder daughter of Andre Renaud, of Remy Martin, choosing instead to marry her younger sister. This created a major disagreement and Remy therefter refused to buy their brandies from Frapin. Max lost control of Remy and Cointreau but managed to retain the prestigious Château Fontpinot.   He subsequently resurrected the family Frapin brand and in due course, the historic brand of Gosset Champagne too.

    Max served as President of the National Union of Liquor Manufacturers, President of the Social Commission of the National Council of Wine and Spirit for eight years and was appointed a Foreign Trade Advisor of France. He was also the Mayor of Gensac la Palue from 1969 to 2001 and awarded with the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, the highest decoration in France.

    Frapin has, in past years, produced some wonderful cognacs and memorable vintages; they are regarded highly in the industry with their fine Grande Champagne cognacs. Max Cointreau will be remembered as one of the patriarchs of the cognac industry.

  • Sazerac Buys Domaine Breuil de Segonzac Cognac

    Sazerac bought  Breuil de SegonzacSazerac, one of America’s oldest family owned, privately held distillers, has purchased Domaine Breuil de Segonzac Cognac located in the Grande Champagne region. The property is about 220 acres in size and the purchase includes the cognac distillery, organic vineyards and chateau-style mansion dating from 1870. “Given the roots of our company, we are very excited to add a cognac house to our family, especially one as historic and prestigious as this one,” said Mark Brown, CEO.  Sadly, many small cognac houses have been sold to foreign buyers in recent years but usually from Asia. This American investment was inevitable given the recent rise in popularity of cognac in the US. Thankfully the CEO added “We intend to continue the proud heritage and preserve its authenticity and character.”  We are always pleased to see small cognac houses, like Hermitage, remain successful.

  • Cognac Gift Presentation and New Armagnac Vintages

    Lots of new stock has arrived on our shelves during the last month. An exciting new concept for the cognac connoisseur is a Cognac Gift Presentation offering 2 x 20cl bottles of very special old cognacs. Enough to try, enjoy and share with a friend and the perfect way to sample some of the very best the Charente has to offer.

    We also have a brand new Hermitage Cognac 1976 distilled 40 years ago. This vintage is proving to be exceptionally rare so we don’t expect our stock to be on the shelves for long!

    In addition, we have taken delivery of some new armagnac vintages including the very popular 1986, 1976 and 1966 from 30, 40 and 50 years ago respectively.

  • Entry Level Cognac Brands Haven't Improved Quality

    According to Hine Cognac’s CEO, “The trend towards premiumisation across all consumer categories, including fashion and alcohol, is seeing brands improve their image without improving quality.” This trend has meant that lower grade brands have been able to improve their overall perception without improving their quality. However he goes on to say that “connoisseurs are now seeking products with flawless raw material, of precise provenance and uncompromising quality” in their search for truly premium brands. So, it’s not about the logo, discerning customers want superb quality, like Hermitage - take our 43 year old for example.

  • Brandyclassics News - Four Gold Medals

    Another great year at The Spirits Business Awards for Hermitage Cognacs as all four of ourGrand Master entrants were awarded GOLD medals.  Hermitage Provenance Grande Champagne 6 Year Old, 20 Year Old and 30 Year Old produced specifically for the export market all proved their worth.  In our ever growing premier collection, one of our latest vintage releases, Hermitage Chez Richon 2005 Grande Champagne was the fourth highly successful cognac.  Following on from our COGNAC GRAND MASTER AWARD 2014, this news could hardly have been better.  You can see the whole Hermitage range here.

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  • A Great Name Disappears - A.E.Dor is no more.

    The firm A E Dor has been sold to the Cognac co-operative, Uni-Cognac, for an undisclosed sum. We understand that Uni-Cognac are keen to move into the Far East market and regard the Jarnac based firm of Dor as a significant name in the industry.

    The firm had a number of owners including a relative, we believe the brother, of the French President Franҫois Mitterrand before it was bought by Odile and Jacques Riviere. Odile ran the firm and was highly regarded in the industry as a gifted blender.  She became one of the five best female blenders in the industry. Sadly Odile died in a motoring accident and Jacques was at a loss as to what to do with the firm as his knowledge was not in the same league as his wife’s. He offered the management to his daughter, a pharmacist, but she wasn’t interested and eventually his son, Pierre Antoine took on the management. Pierre knows little of the industry and sadly, the quality of the cognacs from the house have deteriorated.

    A quarter of a century ago Brandyclassics took on the distribution of A.E.Dor Cognacs. As generic blends of their day they were highly regarded and their old Paradis is still one of the most famous cellars in the industry with its many bonbonnes of old pre-Phylloxera cognac. Now they have been sold to a co-operative, Odile will be turning in her grave.

    We still stock a few of the best A.E.Dor cognacs, have a browse here.

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  • Another New Vintage Cognac in Stock

    Yet another wonderful addition to the Hermitage range, we have just taken receipt of our new 1965 vintage.  Distilled 50 years ago it is perfect for special birthdays, anniversaries or to just enjoy as a special old vintage.  The Hermitage 1965 comes from Réaux, one of the top growing areas of Petite Champagne and has a rich, intense flavour of bitter chocolate, cardamom and roasted almonds.  Although most of the Hermitage collection come from Grande Champagne, this magical, soft cognac from Petite Champagne joins the select few that we offer from this fine region.  Try it for yourself:

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