COGNAC - THE TOWN AND THE DRINK



Cognac is a lovely town which is situated on the river Charente between the cities of Angouleme and Saintes.

The majority of the town has been built on the river's left bank, with the smaller right bank area known as the Saint Jacques district.


River




It would take you about 45 minutes if you were to stay at 'La Petite Maison' in Poullignac.

The Cognac Area extends along the banks of the Charente all the way to the Atlantic coast. It covers a large part of the department of Charente, all of the Charente-Maritime and a few areas of the Dordogne and Deux-Sèvres.

As it is obviously very well known for the drink, most of the tourist attractions are concentrating on this area.

You do find some other things to do, for example you will find an excellent Ice-Skating ring there.

I have done this with my children in the winter and it is good fun.

So, if you have children it might be a good solution to drop them off there, while you get on with a bit of tasting.

Unfortunately, the Ice-Skating ring is closed in the summer.

But you might be interested in architecture and I can recommend you have a lovely walk through the Old Town.

The medieval quarter "Vieux Cognac" runs from the Tours Saint-Jacques, alongside the river, up to the Saint-Léger church.

The area contains many unusual buildings, built between the 15th and 18th centuries, situated on narrow cobbled streets.

Many contain sculptures of the salamander, the symbol of King François I, as well as gargoyles and richly decorated facades.

Or how about some Museums?

I can highly recommend 'The musée d'Art et d'Histoire' which is an art and history museum.

And of course there is 'The musée des arts du Cognac'

You will also find many Romanesque churches as well as several Chateaux.




Shopping Cognac




Now if none of this really interests you they are always the shops, Bars and Restaurants.

I am sure you will be able to spend a lovely day here, whatever your interests.

But do remember that this is not the only Town worth seeing. There is Aubeterre, Chalais, St.Emilion and many more...

Grapes for Cognac

Bunch of juicy grapes


Let me tell you a bit more about Cognac.

The entire Cognac vineyard covers around 80.000 hectares (1 hectare = 2,47 acres) and 15.000 plantations that produce white wine for the production of Cognac.

The main grape variety that is planted is Ugni blanc (mostly "Folle Blanche" and "Colombard").

This slow ripening variety is very resistant to diseases and produces a wine that has two vital qualities : a high level of acidity and a generally low alcohol content.

The origins of cognac are closely related to the commerce of two products: salt and wine.

Vinyards have existed in Saintonge as far back as the gallo-roman times. The vinyards of Saintonge were probably planted during the last part of the third century AD.

Probus, the roman emperor, extended the privilege of owning vines and making wine to all Gauls, but the extent of the plantation was still very limited.

The real extension came during the 12th century when salt shipments for Norway started to include local wines.

The vinyards began to appear inland especially on the banks of the Charente river.

The wine, unfortunately, would not travel very well and was also very bulky.The Dutch transporters, along with the French wine producers from Charente thought of distilling the wine.

The product became indeed considerably reduced in volume but also more stable and resistant to transportation.

For practical reasons, the spirits were stored in oak casks, it was then realised that the spirits had matured with age in the casks and could be drunk pure.

During the 12th century, the product was improved yet again when double distillation was discovered.

At the end of the 13th century sales abroad tripled with the signing of the first international sales treaties.

Later, the Dutch became the main suppliers for a large part of Europe but also for the States.

The English remain important clients.

Many merchants in fact established sales counters to sell their goods straight from the ship.

That really is the short history of Cognac.

After I finished one of the tasting tours it was explained to me how you actually taste the Cognac, as there is apparently a tasting technique and it follows a classic ritual.

So, let me share the experience of tasting with you.

The perfect tool is the tulip shaped glass which contains the aromas and releases them delicately and progressively throughout the tasting.

FIRST STEP: Visual Aspect

The eye must judge the spirit in three ways : transparency, colour and viscosity (the liquid must not be cloudy nor have sediments). By tilting the glass, one can observe the "legs" or "tears" effect which is a sign of good age.

SECOND STEP: The Scent

Firstly, the connoisseur will detect the very volatile and very subtle scents that are often hidden to the novice : he carries the glass to within an inch of the nostrils and tames the burning vapours, he then smells a little closer before inhaling at length all the released smells with the nose in the glass.

Secondly, the connoisseur discovers the less volatile aromatic components: he stirs and tosses the liquid inside the glass to allow the spirit to release new scents.He repeats this action several times to make the pleasure last and to discover a whole new bouquet every time.

THIRD STEP: The Taste

The tasting must obey strict rules: The taster takes small sips at a time (1 to 2 ml).

He holds each sip in the front of the mouth and appreciates the "taste" (balance between softness, acidity and bitterness) and the "touch" (feeling of roundness,warmth, strength, astringency, body, oiliness, volume, etc...).

The second, longer sip will suffuse the whole mouth and will bring into full bloom the flavours and the less volatile notes that complete the bouquet.

Now you know how it is - give it a go.

Once you know about it you might do it a couple of times but then you just go back drinking it as before.

Well, that is me anyway. You are probably different!!!

If you enjoyed this little bit of Cognac, why not visit one of the Cognac Houses.

I have visited two of them, which is Remy Martin. On this tour you take a train ride around their site which takes you into the underground caves.

Or there is Hennessy which includes a boat ride.

I enjoyed both but there are more for you to visit and maybe let me know about what you think.


If you liked reading about Cognac, why not browse a little and find out more about other villages or even about me and why I decided to create my site.

Whatever you do - Have Fun............


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