Cognac might have made a name for itself with its wine and salt trading while the Cognaçais, proud of their nickname: 'cagouillard' (snail), enjoyed a slow pace of life, had it not been for the river Charente, dubbed 'my kingdom nicest' by King Henry the IV.

This river, particularly navigable, gave Cognac easy access to the nearby Atlantic Ocean, in South Western France, not far from Bordeaux. A climate and soil most appropriate to vine growing, combined with a solid intuition for trade, and a love of perfection did the rest.
Merchants, mostly English and Dutch, began to distil the wines in order to avoid the long boat trips spoiling their quality. The Dutch turned it into 'Brandywine', or burned wine. This would become the forerunner of 'Brandy'.
During the XVI th century, the Rochelais initiated the process of double distillation, allowing the concentrated alcohol, the 'water of life' known as 'eau-de-vie', to travel in the safest and most economical conditions. This alcohol, stored in oak barrels, was to be diluted upon arrival. It is purely by chance that they realised that these eaux-de-vie improved with time and contact with the oak wood. They began to drink it as such and Rapidely the Cognaçais would follow.
The Charente region was then primarily Protestant. The "Edict of Nantes" was their guarantee of "freedom of faith and worship, and safe heaven". When King Louis the XIV th, the Sun King, cancelled the edict, it forced many Protestant families to leave. They established themselves in England, Ireland or Holland and some began to import the eaux-de-vie produced by their relatives in the region. A strong export network thus began to spread.
The XVIII th century saw the first exports in bottles and no longer in casks to Holland, England, North America and the Far East.

At the end of the XIX th century major crisis hit the region, with the onset of the infamous phylloxera, a fungus that spread throughout the vineyards, destroying them. In 1888, a French scientist travelled to Dennison, Texas, where he found the long term cure to phylloxera. The Cognac merchants led the way in replanting, partly from American vines, while helping growers with plants, fertilisers and advice...
Little by little, the vineyards were entirely replanted, and became France's largest for white wine. This left the Charentais with new battles to fight, such as opening new markets throughout the world, guaranteeing quality, maintaining the region's global economy and protecting against Cognac's imitators.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the cure of phylloxera in 1988, Dennison, Texas and Cognac, France, became sister cities. Meanwhile, in the historic part of the town of Cognac, the rue 'Saulnier' (salt trader in old French) remains the only witness to the town's original trade.
All Cognacs originate from Cognac and Saintonge region however, until 1909 when a decree protecting the delimited area was signed, this was not all that clear. The decree claims that only the spirit made with eaux-de-vie from the protected zone and permitted grapes are entitled to the name Cognac. They must be distilled and aged following specifically authorised techniques, respecting the double distillation process in a copper alembic, and aged in oak barrels for a minimum period of time.
Thus, every Cognac is brandy but not every brandy is Cognac.

With a rich clay soil, a softly tempered sea climate, and generous amounts of sunlight, the Charente valley enjoys a climate specifically favourable to cultivating vines. It covers over 200, 000 acres along the Charente River and may be distinguished by six different viticulture areas, or 'crus'.
Enjoying specific climate and soil, each region produces different and complimentary qualities of eaux-de-vie. The areas form a circular belt surrounding Cognac, and the eaux-de-vie loose sharpness and gain in body as they move further from the centre.
The blending, or "marriage", of these distinct qualities will confer to each Cognac its individual, unique, character.


The principle of distillation is based on the differences between various chemical components. In a distilled spirit only those lighter substances making up the main features of a bouquet stay.

The distillation process of the eaux-de-vie from the Charente enables us to concentrate the most delicate aromas and bouquet of the wine, keeping only the very best components and eliminating the mediocre.
Immediately after the fermentation of the grape juice, the white wine is distilled into eau-de-vie. The main particularity of the technique of distillation for Cognac lies in its double distillation: Only the heart of the second distillation or middle portion also called the 'bonne chauffe' will be retained for the Cognac. The heads, too high in alcohol, and the tails, lacking harmony, are carefully removed and distilled over again to perfection.
Of Arabic origin, it is thought that the copper alembic, originally used to produce medicinal essences or perfumes, reached France at the time of the crusades; it has remained the same for the past three centuries. Copper is not only an efficient heat conductor but also plays a purifying role.
For its first distillation, the unfiltered wine is brought to boil in the copper pot. Since alcohol evaporates faster than water, alcoholic vapours may be collected in the onion dome shaped cowl and in the swan neck, which slows the rectification process of the flavours, before passing into the long serpentine condenser coil. Vapours’ condense to the contact of the cooler and turn into a liquid known as 'brouilli'.
This brouilli, with an alcoholic content of 27 to 30% vol., is distilled a second time in a process called the 'bonne chauffe'. The distiller's key task is then to choose the moment when to isolate the 'heart' of this second distillation, extracting the 'head' and the 'tail' in the process.
This distillation process is a delicate and slow one. It lasts for approximately twenty four hours and requires the constant care of the distiller. It usually begins in November and is conducted day and night for several months. The rule binds it to stop at the latest at the end of March. Distillation is a key factor to confer the Cognac its distinctive character. Its secrets are handed over from generation to   generation.

The oak wood, quite porous, keeps the Cognac in permanent contact with the naturally humid or dry air of the cellars while losing some of its alcoholic content. This evaporation leaves a dark hallow over the walls of the town, poetically called 'The Angels Share'. A microscopic fungus - the 'torula compniacensis Richon', develops thanks to the humid air of the cellars. The angels over Cognac 'drink' each year some twenty million bottles per year, making them the second largest market for Cognac after the United States!
After the double distillation, the Cognac starts to mature at a maximum of 72% alcohol. Time will help it lose over a third, reaching not less than 40% in order to be sold. The aging process follows three main phases:
The 'extraction', during which the wood transfers to the eau-de-vie most of its tannin, woody and taste. The newly distilled colourless eau-de-vie takes on some of the wood's tannins, naturally attaining its golden amber colour. Each Cognac house decides on the respective length of stay in young and old casks according to the desired quality: The younger wood will transmit far more tannin to the eau-de-vie than the older.
The 'ageing', also called degradation or hydrolysis, is the period during which the eau-de-vie flattens. After two to three years of maturing, the eau-de-vie reaches qualities proper to consumption. But if allowed more time, the Cognac gains in complexity, perfume, aroma and taste. Bouquet and mellow reach their finest after fifty years.
Finally, the 'oxidation' gives the eau-de-vie its final bouquet and golden shade. Once transferred into glass, the Cognac is no longer in contact with the air or wood, and stops maturing. It remains immutable. Each Cognac house stores its oldest Cognacs in half-johns in remote cellars known as 'Paradise'.


Cognac making follows a very complex process. It is never born of a single eau-de-vie or a single growing area, but always from a blend of different ages and crus, sometimes up to a hundred of them. The blending or 'marriage' is conducted under the watchful eye of the cellar master who upholds the brand's taste.

In Cognac, he or she is a great alchemist of style. Each Cognac house guards its own secrets regarding the blending and assembling of eaux-de-vie fiercely.
With a great deal of expertise, combined with intuition and method, the cellar master holds the key to this secret and transmits his know - how from generation to generation. He is responsible for the purchase of eaux-de-vie, he follows their elaboration until their maturity, decides their transfer from young to old wooden casks and oversees the blending. His role is essential in reaching the consistency of each product.
Standardising each Cognac's quality enables us to offer constant excellence to even the most demanding connoisseurs.