Cognac Exports Climb To Record Highs in 2016

It looks as though drinkers worldwide are increasingly developing a taste for Cognac. Ideal Wine Company reports on new figures, which indicate Cognac exports climbed to record highs in 2016.

Cognac exports

Cognac is a luxury brandy produced in the eponymous French region of Cognac, based in the South-West. It is produced, through a strict double distillation method involving copper pots, with specific white wine grapes, primarily Ugni Blanc. In most countries, the Cognac label is legally protected, so firms must conform to a specific production process in order to promote their products as Cognac.

Similarly to Champagne, Cognac is regarded as a luxury item, due to its traditionally high price tag. Over the years, a number of top Cognac brands, such as Remy Martin, Delamain and Claude Thorin, have caught the imagination of brandy lovers everywhere. You can find products supplied by the above mentioned brands on Ideal Wine Company’s Cognacs list, at extremely reasonable prices.

According to The Drinks Business, an industry publication, Cognacs are actually more popular now than they ever have been before. Figures supplied by the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC), a sector body, indicates that Cognac exports hit a record high of 179.1m bottles in 2016. This represents increases of 6% and 6.8% in terms of volume and value respectively from 2015.

Key markets

This expansion, BNIC argues, was driven by the countries in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Cognac exports to the NAFTA nations increased by 14.2% (volume) and 14.3% (value), with 77.3m bottles ships. It’s important to note that the US has been Cognac’s largest market for 25 years and it retained this position in 2016, with 74.1m bottles being exported there alone last year.

The growth of the US market has been fuelled the expansion of the VS segment, which now comprises half of Cognac exports. VS saw volume and value rises of 9.6% and 13%. VSOP, which comprises 40% of the market, experienced smaller value and volume climbs of 0.3% and 0.4%, but old quality Cognac experienced a resurgence, with increases of 11.7% (volume) and 8.3% (value) in the same period.

Meanwhile, due to the stabilising Chinese market, 51.1m bottles were shipped to the Far East last year, equalling volume and value upticks of 1% and 3%. Yet only 39.4m bottles were sent to Europe in 2016, a slight decline on 2015, with volume and value falling by 1.2% and 1% each. However, Cognac exports to the rest of the world (e.g. the Caribbean and Africa) climbed slightly across last year.

Popular drink

These figures indicate, therefore, that Cognacs across the age classification spectrum, from VS to XO (extra old), are becoming more popular across the majority of the world. People are increasingly recognising that Cognac is a delicious drink, which can also be used to make fantastic cocktails and delicious dishes. If you want a quality product, you should consider buying Cognac in 2017!

Remy Martin Launches Limited Edition Cognac

Ideal Wine Company has learned that luxury brandy company Remy Martin recently released its latest limited edition Fine Champagne Cognac.

Luxury brand Remy Martin

Founded by a French wine-maker of the same name in 1724, Remy Martin is an incredibly reputable, high class Cognac brand. We stock the Remy Martin XO Champagne Cognac here at the Ideal Wine Company and really enjoy its incredibly rich, smooth and complex qualities.

Remy Martin continues to impress brandy enthusiasts all over the world. The company won the Supreme Brand Champion 2016 Award from industry publication The Spirits Business. They heralded Remy Martin for finding ways to promote its Fine Champagne Cognacs to consumers. Carrying this work forward, Remy Martin recently released its new expression, Carte Blanche à Baptiste Loiseau, the first in its new limited edition Fine Champagne Cognac line, to the world.

Limited edition Cognac

Business blog The Moodie Davitt Report writes that just 7,000 bottles of this new expression were made. The product is the first to be created by 34 year old Baptiste Loiseau, who was appointed Remy Martin’s new Cellar Master in 2014. Loiseau selected one cask from the Gensac-la-Pallue cellar, one of Remy Martin’s 26 cellars, for this inaugural Carte Blanche edition.

Remy Martin recently invited 50 global media guests to the cellar for a special tasting. Speaking at this event, Loiseau explained: “I wanted to show the true sense of Fine Champagne when I was given ‘carte blanche’ by the company to reveal its treasures. I tasted every eau-de-vie that had been set aside by previous cellar masters for their ageing potential.

“One day here at Gensac-la-Pallue I found something very precious and decided to reveal it at the percentage proof at which it appeared naturally in the cask. It is very special, with the youngest eau-de-vie at 20 years and others in the blend above that. It is a question of time and the transmission of values from previous generations. What moved me was that it possessed the style of the house. It is harmonious, rich, intense and has extraordinary length.”

Future plans

Talking about releasing future expressions of Carte Blanche, Loiseau continued: “It is about when the time is right and the blend is right. I am already looking and have some ideas, having tasted all of the eau-de-vie that we hold in the search for the first expression. It should offer something different. That could mean it contains stocks that are younger than 20 years and it could be from other cellars.”

It takes great experience, knowledge and above all patience to be a great Cellar Master. As he has shown with the released of Carte Blanche à Baptiste Loiseau, Remy Martin’s new Cellar Master could ensure the brand continues developing and releasing standout Fine Champagne Cognacs. It’ll be really exciting to see how Baptiste Loiseau safeguards and advances Remy Martin’s reputation for producing excellent Cognacs that are popular around the world!

Which Chocolates Should You Pair With Cognac?

With Valentine’s Day coming up, you might want to break out the chocolate – one of the world’s most famous aphrodisiacs. Why not team it with a luxury brandy to give your partner an amazing night? The Ideal Wine Company reveals which chocolates you should pair with different styles of Cognac.

Styles of Cognac

Before we get into that, first we need to explain what we mean by ‘styles of Cognac.’ The French brandy is an appellation d’origine controlee, so there are specific rules that govern its production. For example, it must be left to age in the barrel for one – two years in order to be called ‘Cognac.’

However, the drink is often left to mature in the barrel for far longer and age has become a sort of badge of honour in the Cognac industry. The sector utilises a classification system to tell consumers how old their Cognac is. The main classifications are as follows:

  • VS: Short for “very special” this refers to Cognacs that have been aged for the minimum requirement; one – two years.
  • VSOP: Meaning either “very superior old pale” or “very special old pale,” VSOP is used for Cognacs that have been allowed to mature for at least four years.
  • XO: Shorthand for “extra old,” XO is used to label Cognacs which have been left to mature for at least six years. It’s often seen as the most prestigious of all Cognacs.

Chocolate pairings

The Cognac Board, a trade association of Cognac industry professionals, has just released a guide on how to pair different styles of Cognac with chocolate. They suggest that the younger the Cognac, the creamier and softer your chocolate should be. Specifically, the guide suggests these pairings:

  • Frozen VS: The guide advises you to team “frozen VS Cognacs” – which are the same as standards VS’ but served at sub-zero temperatures, with white chocolate. It’s subtle cream and buttery notes blend beautifully with this style of Cognac’s famously oil-based texture.

 

  • VS: You might want to think about serving very special Cognacs with white or milk chocolate that contains caramel, fondant or hazelnut pralines. These products boast a gorgeous texture, which tends to lessen the bite of a VS Cognac.

 

  • VSOP: Here you might want to embrace all things dark chocolate. Even better, you could go for dark chocolate which contains nutty, floral or fruity tones. The guide explains that the pure bitterness of these products pairs amazingly well with older Cognacs, allowing their complexities to shine.

 

  • XO: The fullest and richest of all Cognac classifications, XO goes best with really intense dark chocolate. The roundness and simplicity of extreme dark chocolate pairs beautifully with the oak, black pepper, clove and dried fruit notes that are often found in XO products. These Cognacs also work well with vanilla and caramel macaroons.

Pairing our Cognac

So if you planning to buy the Delamain Pale & Dry XO Grande Champagne Cognac from the Ideal Wine Company for this Valentine’s Day, you know what to serve it with. Opt for really intense dark chocolate or caramel macaroons to give your partner a night they’ll never forget!

How to Store Cognac

A delicate drink with a carefully calibrated balance of luxurious flavours, Cognac must be stored correctly to preserve its unique character. With this in mind, the Ideal Wine Company explains how to store Cognac.

Fabulous tipple

Cognac is a protected brandy made in or around the French town of Cognac, from which it takes its name. Under legal guidelines, it must be made through a special process involving double distillation in copper pots, and two years of aging in French oak barrels from Troncais or Limousin.

If you buy the Remy Martin XO Champagne Cognac from the Ideal Wine Company and learn how to taste Cognac, you’ll soon discover that this tipple will provide you a drinking experience like no other. However, Cognac must be stored correctly if you wish to enjoy its fabulous qualities; much like wine if you store Cognac incorrectly, you’ll ruin the quality of the finished product.

Storing cognac

Cognac isn’t like wine; it doesn’t age once it’s bottled. However its quality doesn’t depreciate with time either if it’s stored right. However, we would advise you to ignore the old rumour that a Cognac should be stored upright so the liquid doesn’t come into contact with the cork. If the cork is completely dry it could spur oxidisation.

This is why, as the Cognac blog explains, the French brandy should be stored “in the shade and in a cool place with no extremes of temperature.” It’s vital that you keep the bottle in a place with a consistent temperature, as a dramatic shift can impact the quality of the drink. You should also avoid placing the bottle anywhere that’s extremely humid, in order to preserve the label.

When a bottle of Cognac has been opened, the liquid inside will keep for about six months. At this point the Cognac will start deteriorating and evaporating due to contact with air.  If you store the bottle correctly once it’s been opened, you may be able to somewhat halt this admittedly slow process.

Try our Cognacs

If you follow our instructions when you buy one of the Ideal Wine Company’s Cognacs, you won’t be disappointed. You’ll be presented with a fine French brandy that boasts an array of rich, tantalising flavours that are destined to have you hooked from your very first sip!

Ideal Wine: How to Make a Classic Champagne Cocktail

If you’re about to throw a dinner party for your friends, you’ll want to stick around. The Ideal Wine Company is about to tell you how to make a classic Champagne cocktail.

The perfect dinner party drink

Dinner parties are sophisticated occasions. They present you with a unique opportunity to go all out and really impress your nearest and dearest. You can show them what you’re made of the minute they step through the door by greeting them with cocktails. These heady concoctions give your guests a chance to mingle and catch up on local gossip before you serve the main course.

This is why it’s vital you find the perfect cocktail to start the night off right. May we suggest the classic Champagne cocktail? This timeless concoction is simple yet elegant; the perfect drink for special occasions.

What you’ll need

You won’t need to stretch your budget too far to create a mouth-watering classic Champagne cocktail. You’ll need one sugar cube, 2 dashes of bitters, 20 ml of Cognac (we suggest the Remy Martin XO Champagne Cognac) and enough luxury Champagne to top up a glass (the Dom Perignon 2000 would work fabulously for this).

The preparation method

You’ll also be glad to hear that the classic Champagne cocktail is incredibly easy to make. You can whip up a batch in a few minutes. All you have to do is:

  • Place the sugar cube on the spoon and soak it in the bitters.
  • Drop the cube into a Champagne flute and pour in the Cognac.
  • Top up the glass with your luxury Champagne.

Since we’re heading into summer, if you’re thinking of making a classic Champagne cocktail in the near future we suggest you do one more thing. Place a slice of lemon or lime on the rim of the glass to lend your creation an exotic Mediterranean vibe.

Wow your guests

Follow this guide and voila! You’ll have created a mouth-watering batch of classic Champagne cocktails that your guests are sure to love. These fabulous creations will turn your dinner party into the stuff of legend!