When Edward VII was still Prince of Wales (before becoming King Edward VII), he was once severely reprimanded as he prepared to drink a Cognac without first “letting the amber blonds play around in the crystal.”
As a matter of fact, the Cognac tasting technique is quite meticulous: first one should focus on the visual aspect of the liquor, thus enjoying its transparency and colour; then breath in its subtle scents and, subsequently, smell a little closer to inhale its less volatile aromas. When the liquid inside is stirred the spirit will release new scents. This action should be repeated several times to make the pleasure last, while also discovering a whole new bouquet of aromas. And now of course it’s time to drink! Small sips at first, then longer sips, in order to feel the roundness, warmth and strength of the cognac.
Cognac was born in the area that extends along the banks of Charente all the way to the Atlantic coast: 80.000 hectares and 15.000 plantations. Among the big brands, Hennessy’s museum is the most recent, modern and ambitious; the building is made only of materials that are used in the making of Cognac: clay, copper, wood and glass. A visit to the ageing cellars is made aboard a boat crossing the Charente River.
Remy Martin, the very first French Cognac brand and the world leader for fine Cognacs, has proudly opened its Fine Champagne Cognac Club, which features special tours to the vineyard, lasting one hour to all day, and are totally personalized according to the visitor’s tastes and needs.
In the Charente area is also produced the Pineau de Charent, which, funnily enough, is the result of a mistake made by a wine maker who accidentally put grape juice into a barrel containing Cognac…and so this wonderful, clear and sunny Cognac was born.
Cognac has also featured heavily in the lives of some of the greats of world history. Legend has it that Marshal Foch and General von Winterfeld signed the armistice of World War I over a toast. A glass of Cognac sealed the peace.
Hennessy Museum: Quai Richard Hennessy | 8 Rue Richonne, 16100 Cognac, France, Tel: +33 5 45 35 72 68, www.hennessy.com
Remy Martin: 20, Rue de la Societe Vinicole, 16100 Cognac, France, Tel: +33 5 45 35 76 66, www.visitesremymartin.com