Blog: A night at Courvoisier Cognac
Chris Mercer | 9 November 2009
just-drinks deputy editor Chris Mercer exchanged the urban rush of London for some country-fication in the relative tranquility of France's Cognac region at the end of last week.
The trip, organised by Courvoisier, saw just-drinks accommodated in the manner it has become accustomed to over the years. Courvoisier's chateau at Jarnac has rooms the size of your average London flat and the type of cellar that you wouldn't mind being locked in for several days.
For Courvoisier, as for other Cognac houses, 2009 has been a tough year.
But then, this is not the first and is very unlikely to be the last recession for the company, which was previously part of Allied Domecq and sold to Fortune Brands following Pernod Ricard's buyout of Allied in 2005.
Cognac as a spirit occupies a strange position in modern France. Courvoisier may have been official Cognac supplier to the French Royal Court in the 19th Century, but with around 97-98% of all Cognac exported, it seems that most French people outside of the Cognac region would these days rather have a Scotch whisky in their drinks cabinets.
In a sense, with strong export links to the US, Western Europe and increasingly Russia and Asia, this is not such a problem. China's emerging middle classes would probably fill swimming pools with XO, given the opportunity.
Also, most 'national' drinks have tended to suffer on their home turf at the hands of 'exotic' imports - homemade wine in France, beer in the UK and vodka in Russia have all been in decline among domestic drinkers.
Yet, lack of penetration for Cognac in modern France is an issue. Courvoisier admits that the industry was caught napping by Scotch in the decades following the end of World War Two in 1945.
As one company representative said, it is an issue because Cognac is, to some extent, sold on its French heritage and culture. Some consumers, particularly in emerging markets like China and Russia, are buying into that idea. The big French fashion houses view France as an important market, because it helps them to sell a certain style to the world. They want French women dressed in their designer clothes and to be seen dressed in them.
Opportunities will continue to abound for Cognac in emerging markets, but the houses are aware of the need to push more in France and it will be interesting to see how this develops.
Chris Mercer, deputy ed.
Bacardi's 42 Below vodka brand has found a novel way to use the lemons left over from cocktail-making: Turn them into liquid soap....
Philadelphia’s soda tax came into force on Sunday, and is reportedly causing a stir in the city's check-out aisles....
Earlier this month, I was most-kindly invited by Accolade Wines to visit the Royal Albert Hall in London. The reason? They wanted to see a tennis great in action, and then give them a guided tour thro...
Do you like whisk(e)y? And, I mean, really like whisk(e)y? Are you at a loose end in the first half of 2017? If so, then I've found just the job for you....
- Interview Berry Bros & Rudd CEO Dan Jago - Part I
- The threat of excess choice in beer is over-stated
- Key trends for the beer category in 2017 - Focus
- Key trends for the spirits sector in 2017 - Focus
- Signs of life in Japan's beer market - Comment
- Pernod Ricard's Method and Madness Irish whiskey
- Premium to counter mainstream in gin - research
- Bacardi lines up Canadian bottling plant closure
- Pernod unveils new St Patrick's Day Jameson bottle
- Diageo faces US$68m payout after SAP court loss
- Global vodka insights - market forecasts, product innovation and consumer trends
- Global rum insights - market forecasts, product innovation and consumer trends
- Global Cognac insights - market forecasts, product innovation and consumer trends
- Battle of the Generations - The fight for iGen, Millennial, Gen X and Baby Boomer consumers
- Global gin insights - market forecasts, product innovation and consumer trends