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The Cognac Process – Part 14. Modern Times

By the mid-20th century the ‘big two’ cognac houses had become the ‘big four’ with Courvoisier and Remy Martin selling substantial quantities to both the Asian and American markets.  Demand from major cities such as Detroit and Cleveland really helped to boost sales. Remy focused their appeal on cognacs made in the Champagnes but across the board, the growers were not ready for the inevitable surge in demand. Vast new vineyards were planted and as viticulture techniques continued to improve, production levels increased dramatically.  Even so, keeping up with the large volume demand from the big houses was challenging for the Cognaçaise.  Eventually, it was the development of the Chinese markets that saved the day as demand moved towards smaller volumes of more expensive cognacs.  Hennessy had pioneered this market before the Second World War with their XO cognacs but now other houses followed suit.

As a consequence of the growth of the larger houses some of the smaller growers and distillers chose to develop their own styles.  This has enabled specialised houses, such as Hermitage Cognacs, to identify and sell the finest, single estate cognacs from the top cognac crus such as our Hermitage 1975.

The Cognac Process – Part 13. Post War Prosperity

The end of World War II ushered in nearly 30 years of increasing cognac prosperity. The body that was formed to monitor the quality and movement of cognac was known as the Bureau National Interprofessionel du Cognac (BNIC). It managed to greatly improve the relationship between growers and merchants and was, in turn, lubricated by their prosperity. The biggest changes came in the structure of the major firms. In 1947 Martell and Hennessy did not renew their partnership agreement. Martell remained independent and Hennessy merged with the Champagne firm, Moet & Chandon.  In 1971 these ‘Big Two’ houses became the ‘Big Four’ as Courvoisier and Remy Martin expanded – Courvoisier, which was established in the late 18th Century, had just been taken over by Hiram Walker and Remy Martin had grown rapidly without external input specialising, at the time, in Grande Champagne cognacs.

Now it is Hermitage Cognacs that specialise in cognacs from the premier cru.