The region - Cognac - a history of Brandy
Most of the wine regions in France produce spirit from wine
from either fermented grape juice, universally known as Brandy, or from pomace,
the residue of skins and stalks left over after pressing and generally known in
France as Marc.
However only one region in the west of France in an area
straddling several Departments, Charlene and Charlene Maritime produces the
finest grape spirit, Cognac. The town
of Cognac that straddles the Charlene River gives its name to both the region
and the spirit produced there.
Brief History of Cognac
Up to the 17 century the region had developed trade in
inferior wine with England and the Low Countries. The practice of distilling started by boiling down this coarse
wine to reduce the taxes levied on the bulk wine. Dutch salt merchants sailing out of the port of La Rochelle
brought back the distilled wine from Charentes which they called Brandewign
(burnt wine), which the English corrupted to Brandy.
Hennessy from Ireland; Hardy
and Hine from England; and Martell from the Channel Islands.They formed the foundation for the great
Cognac houses of today, and they remain household names.
While Cognac was originally distilled by small
distillers, often with mobile stills, today through economics and largely
government regulations the production has been reduced to medium size
operations and an emphasis on large scale operations.