To meet the ever growing demand for cognac, an additional 10,000 hectares of vineyards will be planted over the next three years, according to a BNIC Update (Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac). Over 3000 hectares of vineyards will be planted each year to increase the production capacity of the winegrowing operations. The BNIC has also launched its new website, designed to give Cognac a twist. The aim of the website is to reveal cognac’s true modernity, its spirit of conquest and its dynamism by respecting a centuries-old history and roots in an authentic “terroir”. For more information take a look at www.cognac.fr . The region has also recently received a boost from the local authorities. They have agreed that Cognac will become the leading city for luxury brand economic development. Its purpose will be to encourage all luxury enterprises but specifically spirits production.
During the war years the Cognaçais were required to provide the Germans with large quantities of brandy. They cheated of course by shipping spirits made from root vegetables thus maintaining their stocks of real cognac. It was during this period that Maurice Hennessy and a well known grower, Pierre Verneuil, followed the example of the growers in the Champagne region and created the wine and eaux-de-vie distribution bureau to preserve the cognac stock. When the war ended this organisation emerged as the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), cognac’s governing body. Composed equally of growers and merchants, the BNIC acquired a great deal of de facto independence from the government in the formulation and supervision of the rules governing cognac. The BNIC also took over the role, previously performed by Martell and Hennessy, of deciding the price of new brandies from various crus. The cognac region had been divided into crus in the 1930s as a natural consequence of the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée system which had become law in 1905.
The end of World War 2 also ushered in nearly 30 years of increasing prosperity. The BNIC greatly improved the relationship between growers and merchants and was lubricated by the ensuing prosperity. In 1948 the Station Viticole, a private laboratory set up to help growers and distillers after the Phylloxera outbreak, was taken over by the BNIC who were able to control all the stages involved in the production of cognac. This included the regulations required to manage the growing, wine making, distillation and ageing of cognac. More recently their powers have gone further with the control of market and sales information, both country by country and by product type, enabling them to manage government taxes and duties. In short, the BNIC now manages every stage of cognac production, from the vineyards to the end buyer.
The Cesium Thought Leadership (CTL) panel met recently to discuss the role industry bodies play in shaping the drinks industry. They concluded that these bodies have 4 areas of influence: education, interdependency, unified thinking and lobbying. The regulatory body for cognac is the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC) whose mission is ‘to develop and promote cognac, representing the best interests of all cognac professionals including growers, merchants and members of other activities related to the cognac trade’. They control all stages of cognac production including the regulations required to manage the growing, wine making, distillation and ageing. Over the years their powers have increased and they now control market and sales information (both country by country and by product type) enabling them to manage government taxes and duties. In short, the BNIC manages every stage of cognac, from the vineyards to the end buyer and certainly covers the 4 areas of influence recognised by the CTL. This level of control definitely protects the industry from rogue trading but has also been criticised for stifling innovation. We wait to hear what the BNIC thinks about ‘Adding a Finish’ as suggested by Martell (see previously) – will others dare to follow?
Read more about the BNIC on our Brandy Education page.
Many of the established growers and merchants recognised the need to establish a body to control and manage the quality and sale of cognac. Much of the preliminary work had been done before the Second World War and a great deal of de facto independence from the government had already been gained - the Charente region had been divided into crus in 1909, as a natural consequence of the system of Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, and the geographical areas had been delimited by government in 1936. During the War a wine and eaux de vie bureau was created to try and protect the cognac stocks. After the War this organisation was made official and The Bureau National Interprofessionel du Cognac or BNIC was established. The existing Station Viticole’s cognac research laboratories were also placed under its wing and so the BNIC’s role of managing every aspect of cognac production and sales began.
Our Hermitage 1947 is a classic vintage cognac from the post war era, produced at the outset of the BNIC's establishment.