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.
Charles Braastad, Managing Director of Delamain, has issued this statement: “After over a century, we are very pleased to once again be cultivating vines. We originally abandoned the practice in 1910 upon the sale of our ‘Bois Clair’ property in Saint-Brice. At the time it allowed us to focus on selection, blending and ageing of Grande Champagne Cognacs. From 2019 the house of Delamain is re-committing to the very first moments in the lives of our Cognacs, to their birth and growth in the vineyards.” There is considerable investment in terms of time and money required to produce cognac so this decision cannot have been taken lightly. Perhaps they are struggling to find enough high quality eau de vie for their cognacs? As demand for cognac is ever increasing and such a large proportion of that produced is purchased by the big houses, this is a sure sign that small firms like Delamain are feeling the squeeze.
On a recent trip to the Charente I took this picture of a rose bush at the end of a row of cognac vines. This placement of rose bushes has created considerable interest from our followers. I therefore thought it would make an ideal Technical Topic.
Originally, roses were planted in vineyards as an early warning system. Roses and grapevines typically have the same type of soil and sun requirements. In addition, both are prone to the infestation of a fungus known as powdery mildew. If this fungus appeared on the roses, the vines were sprayed with sulphur to prevent the grapes from succumbing. Downy mildew is another fungus that attacks the green parts of the grape vine. If detected on a rose bush the grape vines were immediately sprayed with a solution of copper sulphate and lime. Another historic reason for the planting of roses dates to when they used horses to pull the plough. The rose's thorns were thought to deter the horse from hitting the post at the end of the row.
Nowadays, there isn’t a horse and plough in sight. Most vineyards use modern methods to monitor carefully the soil and health of the vines. Rose bushes are no longer required, so why are they still in evidence? Cynics will tell you that they attract tourists who enjoy seeing them in situ. Others will suggest they are purely aesthetic or that they provide food for bees and habitat for insects beneficial to the vineyard. Some believe that roses are tastier than grape vines to pests, so they draw these damaging insects away from the grapes.
Whatever the reasons for planting roses in the vineyards today, you must admit that they add to the milieu and create a sense of nostalgia. These are things of which the Cognaçaise are immensely proud.