The history of Cognac began as the Dutch traders made their voyage to France in the early 16th Century. During those long journeys, they started experimenting with french wine to make it last longer. To their dismay, it eventually became undrinkable. This led to distilling the wine and turning it into ‘Eaux de vie’, while the Brandewijn (Burnt wine) soon became ‘Brandy’. It wasn’t long until the had Eaux de vie was double distilled and aged to a more colourless fruit brandy. It was said that not only did it enhance the flavour, it maximised its quality.
In 1715, one founding Cognac producer, in particular, Jean Martell, was the very first to form a cognac house during the time its popularity started to grow, followed by Remy Martin a decade later. At this stage, grape growers and farmers were already working to provide Cognac houses with their brandy, opposed to making everything themselves from start to finish. This is still prevalent with Cognac today as trading houses are buying in Eaux de vie and grapes, provided that it meets the requirements and standards.
The 19th century proved to be a pivotal time for global markets. Decades after Martell’s death, an import license was officially signed by King George III, allowing Martell Cognac to be imported into England during the continental blockade. Although the French Revolution and the Continental Blockade resulted in a slowdown in trade, from 1814 onwards, Maison Martell began to move on into various markets by re-establishing the network of those representing it across the world.
By the 1850s, an outbreak of Phylloxera (an aphid or parasite that attacks grapevines and its roots) ensued on the greater part of the French vineyard areas. The world’s most infamous grapevines were completely devastated by the North American parasite (unknowingly accompanying the French traders during their travels). Within the 15 year period, the region that fell under those vine roots fell from 280 000 hectares to over 40 000 hectares.
For the last 300 years, Martell Cognac has successfully established an iconic global presence from its perennial history. Cognac today is versatile within its own right, and there’s a lot to show for it in the current climate. Not only is it competing for commercial popularity but even more so for collectors. In May 2020, a new world record was set for a bottle of Cognac that sold for $144,525 at a live auction. According to some, the growing demand for Cognac in the secondary market has shifted greatly over recent years and it’s not about to change. Although Whiskey has had a popular and far more steady reputation for collectors, it’s been reported that its luxury in price compared to its counterpart has managed to change the Cognac game in more ways than one.
Renowned for its name, its town and its luxury spirits, points of interest in the city of Cognac are fascinating to find. Cognac Is situated in the Charente region, Bordeaux province, Southwest France. This town is full of rich history that people from all around the world venture into, be it all 300 years of the finest tasting Cognacs, wines and spirits.
The Old City Of Cognac
Martell Cognac House
The oldest of France’s great cognac houses has opened the doors of its historic site. You’ll be able to embark on a journey through its history, terroir and savoir-faire.
In a contemporary scenography, Maison Martell offers a choice of three tours depending on how far you want to explore.
History has had a reputation of influencing generations throughout the centuries. As experiences pass on from one to another, whether it comes from the timeless classics or limited editions, it ensures that the next 300 years will continue to be enjoyed the way it always has been.
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