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Sunday 13 September 2015

Exploring the intricacies of Cognac

There can be few towns anywhere in the world with a population of under 20,000 people that have such recognition as Cognac.

This pretty little town on the Charente River in south-west France is synonymous with the grape brandy that bears its name. 

Made from ugni blanc (trebbiano), folle blanche and colombard, Cognac can only be made in the region.

The big guns; Hennessy, Martell, Remy Martin, Otard and others, are all based in the town, with Courvoisier 15 kilometres away in Jarnac. 

Production is divided into six zones with Grand Champage and Petite Champage (nothing to do with the sparkling wine) producing the finest fruit.

As part of our tour on the Scenic Diamond we visited Remy Martin, the third-largest producer, for a tour and tasting that includes fascinating talks on the grape growing, distilling, blending, maturation and storage; along with the surprisingly numerous styles. 

The tour is conducted on a "petit train" - such is the size of the Remy Martin facility, which contains no fewer than 29 massive storage facilities, each holding 6000 barrels. 

Founded 291 years ago, Remy Martin is one of the industry stalwarts and hosts fascinating food-matched tours for visitors. It is noteworthy for aging its products for between 10 and 30+ years; far longer than the industry average. 

The company's flagship Louis XIII is one of the world's most expensive cognacs, but the company sells around two million cases a year across all its brands. 

# The writer is a guest on board the Scenic Diamond's 11-day Bordeaux river cruise. See 

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