25 May 2013

Cognac - Haute Brandy De France

You've heard of Hennessy, Remy Martin and Courvoisier? The next stage of my French holiday took me through the rolling hills and vineyards of South-West France to a small town that's home to lots of industry. Cognac, a small historic town in the South-West of France happened to be my next port of call. So, raise a toast to the history of French Brandy! Oui, Cognac!

Cognac is a town that has exceptional beauty and a great depth of history. I'm all about seeing something new, so my day in Cognac showed me just that! I saw countless buildings that dated back to the 17th century. Judging by things the town of Cognac was very quiet for a Saturday, but everything closes for a few hours in the early afternoon for lunch in France, a rule we should adopt in England! Cognac is sandwiched between the sprawling French countryside that lasts for absolute miles, but when in the town you must visit the winding cobbled streets because they really are worth the journey. Cognac had an air of savoir faire but in a understated sense that impressed me much! I should of packed my trainers! Those blinding cobbles B!

Cognac town boasts a outdoor market, not quite like Bilston's outdoor market but its unique to the town. Serving French town Realness with the aged buildings! Shopping could be a good idea if you don't have a budget, but I just wasn't interested in that. The drive to Cognac was filled with a everlasting view of vineyards, because that's where the 'Henny' comes from! I was transported to another moment in time, the architecture of Cognac is very rustic. I did think for a moment, how do all these farmers make their money? But it's so easy to see that the demand is so high for wine and brandy in the wider Cognac area, its actually a no-brainer! From looking closer at the town I suppose Cognac isn't just about the Brandy?! Who am I kidding?! This small French town can represent that liquor!

Are you familiar with the phrase 'Haute?' It translates from French to English as the word 'High' when talking about things like food and fashion, but I would say that my visit to Cognac brought a whole new meaning to this word. Cognac is home to 'Haute Brandy' because some of the world's most famous Brandy's originate from this small French town! Captured to the left is the 'Hennessy' distillery, overlooking the banks of the 'Charante' river, this world recognisable French Brandy attracts visitors to it's 'Maison de Hennessy' which translates to 'House of Hennessy'. I had to snap a photo of this distillery as soon as I saw it. One person who I know will appreciate this scoop will be my friend Sharoya! It's a true fact, Roya loves her 'Henny!' Had I been fooled by the small winding cobbled streets? Cognac serves body and flavour with its production of Brandy, she knows how to work! Why didn't I buy a bottle!

Cognac isn't just famous for 'Hennessy' because this town is home to a whole host of other 'Haute' Brandy's. The distilleries of 'Martell' and 'Remy Martin' are situated close to Cognac's wholesomely French centre-ville. My favourite brand has to be 'Courvoisier' as their distillery is located in Cognac also. Why Courvoisier? I joked with my friend Fiorella that if I ever have a daughter she will be called after that liquor because it would be extra to shout in the street if she had been naughty! Who knew that so many high class variations of Brandy are made in Cognac?! It's not just the big brands that make their beverages in Cognac, smaller farmers make their own brews of the good stuff, I wonder what Brandy reigns supreme? From the 'House of Hennessy' to the smallest producer its all great for the region! Looking at the ways of this small town Brandy mecca its a powerhouse, creating 'haute' for the world to enjoy! France is just one big producer of alcoholic beverages! Err Champers?!

Having a coffee in Cognac should never be done! I should of had a word with the locals that I saw sipping hot coffee instead of Brandy! I simply couldn't leave Cognac without having a small glass of the good stuff! As you can see by the photo on the right I enjoyed a glass of 'Martell' Brandy as I did not specify what label of Brandy I wanted because the price fared to be the same. It was safe to say that I enjoyed my small measure of 'Martell' Brandy. So, you have been warned that having a coffee in Cognac is cheating! Brandy is the best! Cognac enjoyed its selection of cafes during my short visit but I couldn't help thinking about the dreary weather that threw shade! Shopping for the good stuff wasn't on my list, it wasn't an option that day!

Brandy wouldn't really be my first choice of spirit but when in Cognac I just couldn't say no! I didn't buy a bottle of Brandy from Cognac but I could be persuaded to treat myself by buying a bottle of 'Hennessy' at Bordeaux Airport. I had a picture in my head of what Cognac might of looked like and I will be honest by saying that I was very impressed by what I saw! Looking back I know that my visit to Cognac opened my eyes to the history of Brandy, beginning a new pursuit for more blends of 'haute' brandy to enjoy for myself. If your looking for something different, get yourself to Cognac now for a premium glass of French 'Haute' Brandy and to see a truly beautiful town. Anyone for a cheeky Brandy? I'll keep tight lipped about parts of my day but I could have done with a vat of the stuff!

Discovering the hidden gems of Cognac is ever so easy, just look for the water! The 'Charente' river flows through this Brandy infused town. If you look at the riverside and try to visualise what things would of looked like back in the 17th century as most of Cognac's architecture dates backs to that time period. Rivers are not in short supply in the South-West of France because you can find 'La Garonne' river flows through the city of Bordeaux, but Cognac's part of the 'Charente' is very peaceful indeed. I must admit that the weather wasn't the best whilst I walked alongside the river but that didn't ruin my experience. I can imagine that during the high summer months the weather would be better. As the saying goes 'Always take the weather with you!' If truth be told I was grateful for the time that I spent in Cognac, it got crazy for me that week because I'm use to the city so leaving Bordeaux left me feeling lost! No!

Take your time because Cognac's only a small town, you need to make the best of your time when in Cognac. Getting to Cognac can be a little difficult if you do not have a car. If you do have a car you can choose to use the toll road from Bordeaux and you shall do just fine. I used my situation to the best of my ability, lets just say I used a certain family members skill of driving to afford me the chance to see places like Cognac during my May 2013 French visit. I put up with that pain for the sake of this blog! Now, that's commitment! The circumstances weren't exactly ideal but in the grand scheme of things I put up with that certain family member to see a new place, I got what I wanted from that day! Cognac is the true Brandy powerhouse with its 'maisons' producing Brandy for all! Like any fashion house I know the likes of Hennessy and Courvoisier slay just like a model on who's wearing this seasons couture! Cognac, just serve French town Realness now!

Brandy Aussi Haute Que La Mode!

Joseph Harrison

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