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  • The Brandy Bottle - Monteru Eau de Vie No1

    During our travels in Cognac we often come across and taste new products, this time it’s with a difference. Monteru ‘Eau de Vie No 1 Original’ is double distilled in the traditional manner, but from specific grape varietal wines. Intended to be complementary to cognac rather than to compete, there are a number of grape varieties to choose from. We’ve sampled the Merlot and Chardonnay.

    Light in colour and with a pleasant aroma that reflected the individual grape of the base wine, we were intrigued to see what flavours would be within. However, as sometimes happens, the anticipation was better than the event itself and they turned out to be rather disappointing. Their texture is a little thin and the flavour is all at the front of the palate. We prefer fruit based eau de vie and traditional cognac to this new enterprise. Our Score 2/10

     

     

  • The Brandy Bottle - Hermitage 1914 Borderies

    It is perhaps something of a rare treat to find a Borderies cognac, let alone a decent Borderies cognac. Most of the nutty and rich toffee eaux de vie are snapped up by Martell and Hennessy, who have always tried to get all there is from this tiny cru.

    Some of the cognacs produced here are legendary with their dark toffee and nutty flavours. The soil here has a more clay type structure with a shale layer, but the climate is probably more temperate than the Champagnes.

    The Hermitage 1914 Borderies Cognac has aged in oak for more than 70 years and is now in bonbonnes safely stored in our cellars. The cognac has been reduced by about 1.5% and now has a strength of 44.3% and will be bottled at that. It is a little spicy, has a rancio and long powerful tones. We love this rare cognac. Our score 8/10

     

  • Did You Know? The First Pineau

    The Summer months are the best time of the year to consider the cool and refreshing Pineau des Charentes - a drink that has found favour with all those who taste the magical richness.

    There is no official record of how the drink first came about but the common belief is that it was first made in the sixteenth century. Legend has it that Pineau was created when a winemaker accidently dropped some grapes into a barrel which contained some brandy. The resulting taste after it had aged was found to be so good that it became a regular practice and a new drink was formed.

    The most common type of Pineau is white and made from the indigenous grape varieties such as ugni blanc, folle blanche, sauvignon and chardonnay. The Charente also grows cabernet sauvignon and merlot, found in many of the great clarets from nearby Bordeaux. The rules are that the eau de vie and grape juice (or “must”) have to come from the same producer and the resulting mixture is aged in their cellars. Most of the Pineau is aged from anything between three and ten years, but some have been kept in their oak casks for more than twenty years. There are even a few vintage Pineau’s available now, the finest of them being the 1995 from Beaulon which was aged in casks from Chateau d’Yquem.

     

     

  • Harvesting in the Armagnac region - The Perfect Perfume of Cognac

    The House of Frapin, world famous for their cognacs, also produce a small range of perfumes and colognes.  Since the launch in 2002, their most popular product is 1270 – so named after the year when they commenced their wine and cognac production.

    But the family of Frapin are no strangers to this world; indeed, back in the 16th Century one of the descendants of the original Frapin family, Pierre Frapin was Apothecary to the king.  But today, with their niche range of perfumes and cognacs, the House of Frapin produces a quality range which has proved very popular amongst both cognac aficionados and perfume lovers. Jean Pierre Cointreau of the House of Frapin says ‘Perfume is comparable to cognac in that it all comes down to the soil and how you work on it.  It also has a lot to do with the senses; with flavours and with smell.’

    For the most complex perfume, we suggest Hermitage!

     

     

  • 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!

     

     

  • The Good & Great Cognac Houses - UNICOOP

    No history of the great and good would be complete without mentioning Unicoop, the Charente farmers co-operative for the wines and eaux de vie sold to so many negoçiants.

    “Good and great” are words not often associated with this vast building alongside the main road between Cognac and Jarnac. The building is recognisable by the name of its main brand, Cognac Prince Hubert de Polinac. But strangely enough the cognac brand it is best known for is Henri Mounier, a once famous cognac brand name taken over by the co-operative.

    The co-operative's history is short and to say the least turbulent, selling eaux de vie to many of the big houses, particularly Remy Martin. It was probably their association with these big houses that brought them to their knees in 1999, and where then rescued in 2000 with a FF250 million loan by the French government and Credit Agricole, the French bank. The firm has operated for not a lot longer than the past thirty years and once again it appears to be in trouble financially, with talk of joining with another large negoçiant in Cognac

    As well as Mounier, the firm owns a lot of other names including Paul Bocuse, La Fayette, Mallet and their biggest acquisition, the firm of Calvet in Bordeaux, They bought the well known Hardy cognacs when they also filed for insolvency. Their saviour in the early 2000’s was a large bottling contract with Grey Goose, the well known vodka house whose sign dominates all the cognac signs on the side of their building.

    Who knows, perhaps another saviour will turn up? How about a white swan!

  • 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!

     

  • The Good & Great Cognac Houses - Tiffon

    Tiffon is now owned by the ubiquitous Braastad family whose name has been synonymous with a number of cognac houses including Delamain, Bisquit, Courvoisier.

    In the start of the twentieth century Sverre Braastard moved from Gjovik in Norway to Cognac and joined the firm of Alexandre Biscuit. Biscuit was established nearly a hundred years earlier and was already well known as a prominent Grande Champagne producer. Whilst working for Bisquit Sverre met Edith Rousseau (the granddaughter of Médéric, who founded the House of Tiffon) ad they were married in 1919. The Tiffon firm developed under their leadership and by the 1940’s they had acquired the rather grand Chateau de Triac, a lavish building with castle keeps on either side of the entrance and with vineyards in both Grande Champagne and Fins Bois regions.

    The firm has developed and now has a sizeable international market with sales in North America, Germany and the Scandinavian countries. Their cellars are in Jarnac on the southern bank of the Charente River which provides a good level of dampness and humidity for maturing their cognacs. The firm is still a private company and produces a range of blended cognacs that include the use of sugar syrup and caramel. One of the oldest cognacs is the Reserve de La Famille, which is said to be between forty and sixty years old. But others such as the VS, VSOP and XO blends are only slightly more than the required minimum ages, and they like other  houses have suffered from the shortage of eaux de vie.

  • The Brandy Bottle - Hermitage 1999 Grande Champagne

    It is always difficult to highlight one of our own cognacs, but we believe rightly that all cognacs are reviewed under an equal status, no matter whose label is on the bottle. The 1999 was introduced initially as a first young vintage, but in 2009 it was decided that we needed to sell a 2000 as a more attractive vintage for 2010. We currently have about 600 bottles remaining, but at present the current saleable stock of the 2000 vintage is now less than 200 bottles after a Russian order has absorbed 150 of them! A new 2000 will be available in about a year’s time.

    The 1999 has all the characteristics of the 2000 but is very marginally sweeter. The coffee and mocha qualities are all there and its balance is quite extraordinary for such a young cognac and to prove it, it won a gold medal in the Cognac Masters - another great cognac! Our score 8/10

     

  • 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.

     

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