Cognac Tasting Tour - DMC & Inbound travel agence in the vineyards of Cognac

DMC & Inbound travel agency. Escorted tours, excursions, tasting workshops in the vineyards of Cognac - France.

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Wine tours, cognac tasting tours by an French incoming travel agency located in the heart of the vineyards of cognac, between La Rochelle and Bordeaux, specialized in escorted tours for individuals and small groups, incentive tours, gastronomy and accommodation booking. Winery visits.

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The delimited area

Charming accommodation in the area Grande Champagne


Le Relais de Saint Preuil

Private mansion ideally located to discover the Grande Champagne vineyards


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Cognac Masterclass

During the afternoon you participate in a tasting workshop with an expert who introduces "the Elixir (...)


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From a quality vineyard, transported by ship to the countries of Northern Europe, the wines of Poitou, La Rochelle and Angouleme are, from the thirteenth century, the happiness of the English, Dutch and Scandinavians.
From the seventeenth century, they are transformed into eau-de-vie, which will be enhanced in oak barrels to become Cognac. Thus begins the adventure of a product that will become a brandy renowned.

A long history, international from the outset that gave rise to very characteristic spirits

History of cognac. Delimited area of cognac. Cognac growing areas. Vineyard. Grape varieties. Cognac aging designations

 History in a few words...

Coming from the best vineyards and transported on ships to Northern European countries, the wines of the Poitou, La Rochelle and Angoumois have been greatly appreciated by the English, the Dutch and the Scandinavians since the 13th century. Starting in the 17th century, they are transformed into eau-de-vie and improved by ageing in oak casks. Cognac is born. And this is how the adventure of a eau-de-vie that was to become a world class product began.

In the 16th century Dutch ships come to Cognac and Charentais ports in search of the famous wines of the « Champagne » and the « Borderies » areas.
The wines from the vineyards in Aunis suffer from excessive production and dropping quality. Because of their weakness they can’t survive long sea travels.
The Dutch start using them in their newly established distilleries where they are transformed into « brandwijn » (burnt wines) hence the name « brandy ». It is drunk with water in an attempt to recreate the original wine.

At the beginning of the 17th century double distillation makes its appearance in the region. It will allow the transformation of local wines into eau-de-vie and their transportation by sea without damage. Given its concentration, eau-de-vie is also much cheaper to ship than wine. The first distillation stills in the Charente were built by the Dutch. They are progressively modified until French distillers refine the method of double distillation also known as Charentaise distillation. Delays in the handling of ship cargo leads to the realization that eau-de-vie improves when it spends extended time into oak casks (made with wood from the Limousin) and that it can even be consumed straight from the cask.

From the end of the 17th century, and most especially from the beginning of the 18th century, the market becomes organized. In order to meet demand, « Local Offices », most of them of an Anglo-Saxon origin, are created in the main towns of the region. Some of them still exist nowadays. They collect eaux-de-vie and establish long-term commercial relationships with buyers in Holland, England, Northern Europe, and later in America and the Far East.

Today, cognac is exported to over 150 countries. Regardless of the way it is consumed, it is, from the Far East to the American continent and in Europe, a synonym of great quality, a symbol of France and her lifestyle. Like all luxury products, the success of cognac is depending on the international environment. That is why all the producers make every effort to protect cognac’s unrivaled quality, its uniqueness and its authenticity in the face of global competition.

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 The delimited area of cognac production

The cognac production area was delimited by the decree of May 1st,1909. It is located at the North of the Aquitain bassin, bordering the Atlantic Ocean. To the West, it borders the Gironde estuary and the islands of Ré and Oléron and to the East it neighbours the region of Angoulême and the Massif Central foothills. The production area covers the Charente Maritime and most of the Charente departments, several districts of the Dordogne and Deux-Sèvres.
The landscape is formed by plains and small hills with smooth reliefs. The Charente river crosses the region, nourished by other streams : the Né, the Antenna, the Seugne river... It has a homogeneous and mild seaside climate. Annual average temperature in the area is of about 13°C (55°F) and winters are normally mild.

The Delimited Region has a total area of over one million hectares (1,095,119 ha), but the actual vineyards only occupy 79,636 ha. Approximately 95% of them are used for cognac production.

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 The six crus (growing areas) of cognac production

The Delimited Region is made up of six growing areas based on the soil features described by the geologist Henri Coquant in 1860. They reference the various appellations delimited and then ratified by decree in 1938 :

The first cru : the Grande Champagne Appellation

Grande Champagne is planted with about 13,159 ha of vines out of a total of 34,703 ha. These wines produce fine, light cognacs with a predominantly floral bouquet, requiring long aging in casks to achieve full maturity.
Soils are clayey, chalky thin on top of soft chalk from the Cretaceous. From the surface down, the limestone content is very high and in excess of 60% in some places. Montmorillonite clay provide these fertile soils with good structure and water reserve. Despite their thinness, these soils do not suffer from lack of water as the sub-soil acts as a giant sponge through which water may slowly rise as the summer dryness increases.

The second cru : the Petite Champagne Appellation

Petite Champagne has 15,246 ha devoted to cognac production (out of 65,603 ha). The resulting eaux-de-vie are almost similar to those of Grande Champagne, but without their finesse.

The third cru : the Borderies Appellation

The Borderies is the smallest of the six crus. Its soil contains clay and flint stones resulting from the decomposition of limestone. Lying North-East of Cognac, its 3,987 ha of vines produce fine, round cognacs, smooth and scented with an aroma of violets. They reach optimum quality after a shorter aging period of cognacs from the Grande and Petite Champagne.

The 4th cru : the Fins Bois Appellation

Most of this area is covered by clayey chalky soils known as « groise » very similar to those of the Champagne crus, except for their red color and hard stones from the Jurassic. Lying in a lower area known as the « Pays Bas » (Low Lands) north of Cognac, heavy clayey soils can also be found (60% clay). The Fins Bois surround the first three crus. The area is 349,803 ha large and its 31,001 ha of vines produce round, smooth cognacs that age fairly quickly, with a bouquet that recalls the scent of freshly pressed grapes.

The 5th cru : the Bons Bois Appellation

In the Bons Bois cru sandy soils are found on coastal locations, in certain valleys, and most especially in all the southern part of the vineyards. These are sands that have eroded from the Massif Central. Vines are quite dispersed, mixed with other crops, surrounded by forests of pine trees and chestnuts. The Bons Bois area forms a vast belt of 372,053 ha, of which 9,308 ha are allocated to cognac production.

The 6th cru : the Bois Ordinaires or Bois à Terroir Appellation

This growing area has less than 1,101 ha allocated to vines for cognac production.. The soil, almost exclusively sandy, lies along the coast or on the islands of Ré and Oléron, producing fast aging eaux-de-vie with a characteristic maritime flavor.

The crus Les Bois (Fins Bois, Bons Bois, Bois à Terroirs) received their names when the local forests were cleared at the beginning of the 19th century.

The word « Fine » can only be used for Controlled Appellation eaux-de-vie of wine or cider such as « Fine cognac », « Fine Grande Champagne »...(1928 law)

- « Grande Fine Champagne » is synonymous with « Grande Champagne ».
- « Petite Fine Champagne » is synonymous with « Petite Champagne ».
- « Fine Champagne » is a controlled appellation cognac obtained by blending Grande and Petite Champagne eaux-de-vie with a minimum of 50% of Grande Champagne (1938 Decree).

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 Vineyard, grape varieties

According to the 1936 decree, the following grape varieties only can be used for the production of wine for the Controlled Appellations « Cognac », « Eau-de-vie de Cognac » and « Eau-de-vie des Charentes » :

- Colombard, Folle Blanche, Ugni blanc
- Folignan, Jurançon blanc, Meslier St-François, Montils, Sélect, Sémillon (each representing at maximum 10 % of the plantings)

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 Aging Designations

A cognac may not be sold to the public unless it has been aging in oak cask for at least two years counting from the end of the distillation period, that is from April 1st of the year following the harvest. Once bottled a cognac retains the same age indefinitely.

The executive decision of August 23, 1983 codified the usage of designations based on the length of aging of the youngest eau-de-vie in the blend :
- V.S. (Very Special) or *** (3 stars)... cognacs whose youngest eau-de-vie is at least two years old.
- V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale), Réserve... cognacs whose youngest eau-de-vie is at least four years old.
- X.O. (Extra Old), Napoléon, Hors d’âge... cognacs whose youngest eau-de-vie is at least six years old.

Generally speaking, producers use eaux-de-vie that are much older than the minimum requirement for their blends. In fact, the most prestigious cognacs may have been aging for dozens of years in oak casks before being marketed.

Copyright © : text from BNIC (Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac) - www.cognac.fr

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History of cognac. Delimited area of cognac. Cognac growing areas. Vineyard. Grape varieties. Cognac aging designations


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