Cognac’s rise from a regional product to a worldwide phenomenon

Export sales drove the development of the industry, a feature as true today as it was three centuries ago

Cognac’s rise from a regional product to a worldwide phenomenonFrom the very beginning, the cognac industry was dominated by cognac houses that acted as intermediaries between the producers of eau de vie and their overseas markets. Many of the first cognac houses were founded by English and Irish entrepreneurs: Jean Martell was from Jersey, while Isaac Ransom, James Delamain and Richard Hennessy were all…

Getting to the essence of cognac: the distiller’s art

The deft hand of the master blender is critical to production

Getting to the essence of cognac: the distiller’s artAt first glance, cognac production seems straightforward. The local wine is distilled twice, aged in oak casks from a few years to decades and eventually bottled. In reality, it’s an exceedingly complex minuet where the subtle influences of terroir merge with the distiller’s art and ultimately flower under the deft hand of the master blender.…

With Cognac, it’s all about terroir

The environment, including the chalky soil, is everything when it comes to producing the right grapes

With Cognac, it’s all about terroirCognac begins as wine. Like any wine, it’s shaped in part by the environment in which it grows. Soil, aspect and climate, among other things, combine to create a unique environment, what the French call terroir. A wine, in turn, is a distinct expression of that terroir. In the Cognac region, terroir is, for the…

Cognac: A spirit’s spirit to survive and thrive

The traditional cognac houses have had to overcome grape plagues, the rising popularity of Scotch whisky, counterfeiting and war

Cognac: A spirit’s spirit to survive and thriveAugier, the first modern cognac house, was organized in 1643. Today the brand is owned by French spirits giant Pernod Ricard. It recently relaunched the brand with a line of cognacs said to reflect the early style of the product. Over the two centuries following 1643, many of the leading cognac houses, including the big…

Cognac, a short history of an enduring spirit

What is the difference between cognac and other types of brandy?

Cognac, a short history of an enduring spiritCognac is a type of brandy produced in the Charente region of France, centred around the towns of Cognac and Jarnac, and stretching from the Île de Ré to the Gironde Estuary on the Atlantic coast, to Angoulême and the foothills of the Mastiff Central. The Cognac Delimited Region, the exclusive area where cognac can…

A drive through Normandy is a drive through history

If you're a student of history, ancient or modern, a drive through Normandy makes for a great holiday

A drive through Normandy is a drive through historyIf you're a student of history, ancient or modern, a drive through Normandy makes for a great holiday. It was from Normandy that William the Conqueror set out to take over the throne of England in 1066. If you are into 20th century history, there are the D-Day Invasion Beaches to explore. Start in Rouen.…

A fine deception at a fine Paris hotel

It doesn’t do to embarrass oneself in front of the waiter in the lobby bar of the Four Seasons George V hotel

A fine deception at a fine Paris hotelWhen we were dating, my wife-to-be made the mistake of mentioning that it would be nice to stay in the Four Seasons George V hotel with me in Paris. I took this idle chat as a mission. Twenty years went by, but I remembered my assignment. I had some business in Geneva and suggested that…

Everything you’ve ever heard about Paris is true

But like a flirtatious mistress, she will drive you to distraction while capturing your soul

Everything you’ve ever heard about Paris is trueEverything you’ve ever heard about Paris is true: Expensive. Unfriendly. Grimy. Noisy. Gaudy. Congested. So why do I ache with longing whenever I hear the name? And why do I spend every cent I can spare to fly there again and again when there are a thousand-and-one other places in the world I’ve yet to…

Everything you’ve ever heard about Paris is true

But like a flirtatious mistress, she will drive you to distraction while capturing your soul

Everything you’ve ever heard about Paris is trueEverything you’ve ever heard about Paris is true: Expensive. Unfriendly. Grimy. Noisy. Gaudy. Congested. So why do I ache with longing whenever I hear the name? And why do I spend every cent I can spare to fly there again and again when there are a thousand-and-one other places in the world I’ve yet to…

The meaning is sometimes lost in translation

The tradition of mangling English in restaurants, hotels and public places continues

The meaning is sometimes lost in translationPARIS - Gerard Hoffnung was a raconteur and wit on the BBC in the 1950's. His speech to the Oxford Union, available on iTunes, is a classic piece of period of humour - a must listen to recording. Amongst the gems on that CD is a selection of letters received after inquiring about hotel accommodation…