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Cognac & the region Headlines from Torula News


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11 July Irish Kiss, Cognac and Walter O'
10 July Cognac collectors items
09 July Edito and Cognac Cigar 
29 Jun All roads lead to Courvoisier
28 Jun Sommeliers in short supply
27 Jun Alcohol consumption trends
26 Jun US market helps Rémy Martin
25 Jun Cognac Esteve wins again
22 Jun Cognac in RVF
21 Jun Cognac tasting in Paris
20 Jun Luxury focus at Hennessy
19 Jun A de Fussingy does it again
18 Jun Red flows in the fjords II
15 Jun Tax-Free Asia Pacific
14 Jun Philippe Moreau
13 Jun Elegance for summer
12 Jun Forgeries in Vietnam
11 Jun Red flows in the fjords
8 June Cognac Forum
7 June What's in an URL name?

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Cognac brands on the stock markets - weekly performance

Drinks and beverages industry news. Courtesy of

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Jean LAGARRIGUE,France, 94

Jonzac, 1 - 24 July 2000

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31/05/00 The Cognac region was full of expectation at the recently concluded Film Festival in Cannes. Olivier Assayas's "Destinées Sentimentales" starring top French actresses, Isabelle Hupert and Emmanuelle Beart, together with Alain Braastad of Cognac Delamain and many other locals, is a story set in the period of 1905 to 1938 among the Protestant minority of the Cognac region. An ambitious, well told story and extremely well acted film. So, when the awards ceremony night began, the Cognac region's hopes run high. The winner was foretold by the music filling the auditorium, it was Bjork's "It's so quiet". The Icelandic singer-actress won, her film and its director won for "Dancer's in the Dark". For many in the Cognac region, the real winner was "Destinées Sentimentales". And justifiably so. (IHT20-21/05/00, 23/05/00,Torula News)
30/05/00 As expected, Marie Brizard, parent of Cognac Gautier, appoints Gilles de Dreuzy, formerly  of LVMH, to be its new President. Duke Street investments, new majority shareholder of Marie Brizard is not wasting any time. And more is to come. (Sud-Ouest25/05/00,Torula News)
29/05/00 Certain global newspapers and magazines carried an innovative and eye catching ad for Cognac Rémy Martin VSOP. The tag line reads: "100% proof. Why the world's favorite VSOP cognac chose the World Press Group."  Inside the ad there is a quote from Marie-Hélène Prévot, Rémy Martin's international director talking about Rémy brand, its quality and its international status. A clever use of of powerfull press brands of BusinessWeek, The Economist, Fortune, The International Herald Tribune, Newsweek and Time to promote Rémy brand and Cognac.
26/05/00 Cognac Gautier was awarded the trophy of the Best Cognac of the Year for its Tradition Rare (41.2% alc. vol.) at the Wine & Spirit Challenge competition during the London Wine Trade exhibition. Their XO Gold & Blue was awarded the gold medal. Among other winners were Cognac products from Louis Royer, Godet and Hine, (a 1965 vintage). Cognac Gautier winning coincides with the opening of their web site at A perfect timing. Our correspondent wrote: "The grape based spirits tasting began with approximately 20 Grappas which clearly demonstrated the two competing styles-traditional rather masculine spirits and far softer floral distillates often from single grape varieties. Overall standard was good although none of the Muscat were as expressive as in previous years. We then moved on to a mixed collection of brandies many of which were fairly heavily worked on and therefore poorly noted by the tasting panel.  The number of Armagnacs presented was in decline. The standard was very adequate but nothing shone out as had certain samples from Domaine de Boignères in previous editions.   Nearly 50 Cognacs were on show in 4 categories V.S, V.S.O.P., X.O., & above. Quality continues to improve, a tendency noted already last year. The V.S. category being the most impressive as a whole, well made and well balanced". 
25/05/00 F5.5 millions will be spend between 6 and 15 July this year in the Canton of Matha, in the center of Cognac Fins Bois cru to host new music festival. James Brown (Godfather of Soul) and the Temptations, Gloria Gaynor, Carole Fredericks and Alpha Blondy will headline it. Only 2 weeks later and 18 km south east, the City of Cognac will host its annual Blues Passions Festival with Ray Charles as its top headliner. The Matha money could be better spend on promoting Cognac, Pineaux or vin de pays Charentais, on re-training viticulteurs and supporting local computer club, for example. Matha cannot compete with Cognac as it has no hotels, no facilities. We guess that the Godfather made an offer that the local politicians could not refuse! What a waste!
24/05/00 After a big brasserie refused serving us Cognac-on-ice, and a fish restaurant that never heard about CognacTonic, we wondered around Place d’Italie in Paris. The BNIC (The Cognac Association) advertising and promotion campaign is not working as our experience indicates. What a pity, since we just attended a meeting of 3400 investors and start up business people, who would have similar experiences. But, in our quest for Cognac we stumbled into Cave des Gobelins; a father and son (Eric Merlet) business with a very interesting Cognacs selection. Among them we found Exshaw Trés Rare Grande Champagne, Premier Empire 1809 Le Marquis C. de Genet (a father’s gift to the son instead of a sport car) and a real gem; Lefoulon Cognac Vieille Réserve, Petite Fine Champagne from St. Bonnet, originally selected by the Cave des Gobelins. On the way back to the Cognac region we stopped at Maxime Restaurant in Poitiers to taste another rare gem. It was Bernadette Mocquet Cognac from Mainxe. It is a good Grande Champagne at 41% alc. vol., if a bit overpriced.

In the next few weeks, a new President of the Comite National de Promotion de Pineau des Charentes will be elected. This time, the position will go to a person representing merchants. Frequently mentioned candidates are Bernard Lacroix of Château Paulet and Alexandre Couzanges of Camus. Will they bring energy, dynamism, new thinking that the Baudry/Thomas team achieved in the past 3 years? Will they find a way to re-start promotion campaign in the USA? Will they have courage and foresight to stand on their own, cutting all links to the BNIC? With a sales volume showing a steady, annual 5% increase over the past 3 years, the new President’s job won’t be easy.

23/05/00 On the beautiful island of l’Ile de Ré (outside La Rochelle) known for vacationing Parisians, there is a group of hard working men and women. They have pulled their resources into a co-operative that offers their products. They are potatoes (Maraîchère de l’Ile de Ré) which were given first AOC rating in France, sea salt (Sauniers de l’Ile de Ré) and wines, Pineaux and Cognacs (Vignerons de l’Ile de Ré). Torula News visited the co-operative and tasted all of their products recently. We gained many kilograms on the potatoes and salt that went well with their wines and Pineaux. Especially, white Pineau. The co-operative is producing  Cognac Le Gouverneur (*** and VSOP). The new addition is a Cognac Long Drink “40° Sud”.  Using the name of the popular Charles Aznavour’s song “Trousse Chemise”, the co-operative is also offering sparkling wines under that label. Labeling on the bottles is a bit somber, the screw top for Pineaux magnums is outdated but the taste is indeed very good. Led by the dynamic duo of Franck Nadaud and Michel Pelletier, the hard working co-op members are thriving on the l’Ile de Ré.
23/05/00 Cognac Pierre Ferrand of Gabriel & Andreu is offering a limited quantity of Folle Blanche Cognac Réserve Marie Domain 1806 at DEM7500 per bottle. To buy contact Sabine Daniel at
22/05/00 New Cognac ratings from A. de Fussigny XO Cognac****1/2
Courvoisier: Millenium Cognac ***3/4, VSOP Cognac ***1/4, XO Cognac ****1/4. Best out of 5 *****. There is more on beer, wine and other spirits.
22/05/00 Rixendis’ Cognac Tasting Society opened the year 2000 Cognac tasting at the beautiful Château Mesnac, enjoyed producer hospitality and their Cognacs; VS, Napoleon, XO My Lady and XO Perle d’Or. For results click here.
22/05/00 A worthy Cognac promotion by the Young Viticulteurs Association at the Leclerc supermarket in Cognac was marred by the BNIC presentation of old labels led by "Red Hat Brandy - Best & Cheapest" and a new brochure "Le Cognac le jour, Le Cognac la nuit". We applaud removal of the lipstick trace from the glass but ongoing use of whisky glass is over the top. And the text; no word on Napoléon, Vieille Réserve, vintages etc., plenty of cocktails suggestions and, here is the real surprise, all of it is in French. 92% of Cognac is consumed outside of France. Foreign tourists are flogging into to the region. So why not English and Spanish text, for example? We notice a clear tendency among the young producers to insist that all material be in French only. When asked why, they answer: "It is a French product and BNIC tells us that there is no need for translations". Another misguided effort by the Communication Department of BNIC while the Cognac industry stands by and not reacting! The most impressive new Cognac presentation came from Le Clos de Romas Sarl titled "Gold'n'Rocks"; innovative, fresh and youth oriented.
19/05/00 Rixendis' Cognac Tasting Society opens its tasting campaign in Paris at the Restaurant La Cagouille on Saturday, 20 May, 2000 at 09:30. The Age of Cognac is the subject.
18/05/00 Courtesy of Boris Lamot, the bi-annual Humour & Vigne Festival held in Jonzac, Charente Maritime during month of July is now present on the Internet.
17/05/00 Cognac Renault Bisquit is owned by Pernod Ricard Group, a major French spirits group, and is frequently rumored to be for sale. When we visited recently, just the day after Jean-Luc Francésè was appointed Director General with his new team of Pascale Charageat and Béatrice Fayal, we found fresh optimism and energy. Today Cognac Renault Bisquit bottles 2 different product lines; Renault and Bisquit. Castillon is also bottled in very small quantities. Majority of the product is sold in bulk. So, we set out to talk with their Cellar Master Jacques Rouvière, an experience wine grower from Bordeaux, who for more than 20 years has been creating Renault Bisquit cognacs. His unquestionable winner is Bisquit Cohiba Cognac Extra Grande Champagne at 43% alc. vol. In the Bisquit line there are also Classique (VS type product with Fins Bois in majority and some Petite Champagne and Bons Bois), VSOP (all Fine Champagne) and an XO Excellence, a Fine Champagne. Privilege d'Alexandre Bisquit is an unique blend of Grande Champagne at 42% alc. vol., about 80 years old. The Bisquit product line has developed along the so called Asiatic tastes. The Renault products are of European tastes and include Carte Bleue (Fins Bois VS that has a name   similar to Martell's Cordon Bleu unfortunately), Carte Noir Extra (a Napoléon equivalent blend of Petite Champagne, Fins Bois and Bons Bois) and Carte d'Argent (an XO blend of four crus excluding Borderies) which was created in 1993 by Jacques Rouvière. The company is basically absent from the American market but with the Bisquit Dubouché Château de Lignères, a Vieille Réserve Privée exclusively Fins Bois from the company vineyards, and upcoming vintage/millésimé Cognacs, the company is poised to attack that market. Another winning product from Jacques Rouvière. When the famous TV program Thallassa was filming raising of the Jonkoping, the ship blown up in 1916 in the Bay of Finland, Renault Bisquit Cellar Master was there. As Torula News reported (see 03/08/98, 23/10/98), there were 67 barrels of Cognac Dubouché VOCB (Very Old Cognac Brandy), a brand now owned by Renault Bisquit, on the way to Tsar's Army in addition to bottles of fine wines and Champagne. The bottles survived but the Cognac affected by the sea water seepage did not. And Jacques Rouvière was there to taste it all. Our tasting of Cognacs Renault Bisquit is scheduled in the next few weeks. It appears  that rumors of selling the company are premature.
16/05/00 The Annual London International Wine Trade Fair opens today with Cognac producers being present, led by Cognac Paul Giraud. An International Wine & Spirits Challenge managed by Nicholas Faith, organized by The Wine Magazine was attended by a number of tasters from Cognac region. Unfortunately official results will not be released until the summer issue of the magazine. Check the Fair web site at:
15/05/00 We quote: "Le Long Drink. Announcing an unexpected 14% increase in sales last year after twenty years of decline, Bernard Guionnet of Bnic, the national cognac association said: "It's a small patch of blue in a grey, grey sky; I'm afraid our salvation lies in such appalling heresies as cognac-and-Coca-Cola." "It seems to be working,"   admitted another cognac producer, Jean-Louis Brillet. "Shameful as it is, apparently cognac-on-the-rocks, cognac-and-ginger and cognac-and-tonic are what young people are actually drinking in smart clubs these days." Indeed: smart but not very tasteful clientele, one might suggest. R.K." (from The News for residents and lovers of France, May 2000 page 19). Torula News offers no comments!!!
13/05/00 The mystery is over... Today, at 22:00 CET, Annika (dressed in a fabulous gown bought in Paris) and Jon (not in a T-shirt) got married in Oslo and toasted their happy end to a 10 years courtship with Orchestra. At the same time, in the Cognac region a privileged group of Cognac amateurs rushed to taste Orchestra. And, halfway through the Eurovision contest in Stockholm, televised worldwide, a few enjoyed Orchestra as well. Torula News suggested in an item on 19/05/99 that the next step in Cognac Jon Bertelsen line will be one named Opera but we were wrong. It is Orchestra Cognac Jon Bertelsen. Over the noise of the wedding party, bridegroom had this to say:"The logical step up from the Prélude was the Symphonie. The next step is the Orchestra; older, powerful, but flowery, complex eau-de-vie that bring us closer to the total satisfaction. If the vision is the pleasure of just, the satisfaction in itself, the habit is purity and the gifts from the last generation are the optimal spirit, the result of the third creation should be a combination of these three things. The result is Orchestra. Listen to it. Enjoy it." We wish them many happy years of marriage which in itself comprises of Prélude, Symphonie and Orchestra. And thank you to Olivier and Danny for making such a fabulous orchestration...
12/05/00 Unicognac, a large cooperative based in Jonzac known for its flagship brand Jules Gautret joins the Internet world at They produce Cognac and Pineau des Charentes.
11/05/00 Last week's U.S. Spirits Wholesalers Annual meeting held in Boston, saw a strong demand for Cognac. Among active Cognac producers at the meeting were Château Montifaud and Cognac Menuet.
10/05/00 With participants exceeding 400, led by a strong contingent from the USA, the 37th World Congress of the World Federation of the Bacchic Fraternities (F.I.C.B.)  hosted by the Brotherhood of Franc-Pineau, in the Cognac region closed on a successful note with many planning to participate in the next year's Congress in Oregon, USA. In a well attended bi-lingual tasting of Pineaux des Charentes, Cuvée du Siècle, an extra old Pineau Blanc, scored high. Pineau Blanc and Rosé was also highly rated. Using La Rochelle as the Congress base, the Confrerie Franc-Pineau and Comité National du Pineau des Charentes, its main organizers, proved that with energy, vision and creativity things can happen in the region without over-the-hill movie directors or fading actors to prop the product. Pineau des Charentes stood on its own and much of it is the result of hard work by Nathalie, Sandrine, Christophe, Christine, Stephanie, David, Patrick and many others including Cognac Houses like Hennessy, Martell, Camus and Rémy Martin. The New Orleans-like parade of all participants at the Congress led thousands to a world's largest Pineaux tasting conducted by the Pineaux producers in La Rochelle under the sunny Sunday skies. Click to view: Congress participants, tasting.
09/05/00 Violins and cellos are being tuned while the conductor is readying his score ... Watch this space on 13 May 2000 at 22:00 for one of the most imaginative introductions of new Cognac.
08/05/00 A long delayed CAC-40 market reaction to Rémy-Cointreau (parent of Cognac Rémy Martin) 1999 performance was registered last week when the Group's shares moved above €23 for the first time since week-ending 28/01/00. For the year ending 27/04/00, the Group's shares gained 44.8% which is commendable but in comparison to 113.7% gained by LVMH (a parent of Cognac Hennessy), it is disappointing. Rémy Martin together with Hennessy and Courvoisier keeps the Cognac statistics in a positive direction while Martell is awaiting its fate. Seagram Co., its parent company, just posted a loss for third-quarter exceeding $265 million. Only LVMH got a buy rating from a known stockbroker, recently. Geographically, it is the US market that keeps Cognac numbers up, registering over 4% gain in 1999. Europe as a whole accounts for 72 million bottles of 134 millions sold worldwide.  France (accounts for about 8%), Norway and Switzerland showed increases. However Spain, Sweden, Finland, Denmark registered significant declines. If you add to those declines Japan, Canada and Mexico market losses, Cognac market situation is pointing to a fundamental problem. BNIC (The Cognac Association) has proved again, incapable of understanding markets and consumers trends. Spending all of its communication budget on Cognac Tonic and Film Festival misguided promotions (i.e. targeted within 200 km radius of the City of Cognac) is not professional but also plain silly. Torula News has frequently commented about the need for a generic campaign - Cognac, a product of wine - , for example. We note, that other professional spirits publications suggest the same approach. This, combined with the industry structural problems (i.e. overproduction, quality, taxes) makes it surprising that the Cognac industry continues talking but not reacting. (IHT04/05/00, Drinks International March 2000, Le Revenu 05/05/00)
05/05/00 Some 300 FICB participants are scheduled to taste variety of Pineaux at Club Rémy Martin in Cognac, followed by a gala dinner at the Martell's distillery Gallienne. Then on Sunday, 7th of May, all are invited to a free Pineau des Charentes tasting in La Rochelle. Click here for details.
04/05/00 The 37th World Congress of FICB opens today hosting some 300plus accredited members and press. Main activities are in La Rochelle, Rochefort and Cognac.
04/05/00 Cognac Camus founded in 1863, reconfirms its 5th place among the top Cognac Houses with over 3.6 million bottles sold last year. The company is undergoing a steady change of generation hands; from Jean-Paul of the fourth generation to his sons Cyrille and Jean-Baptiste of the fifth. Helping the change is Loïc Rousset, its director general for the past 3 years. Retiring from the day-today management, Jean-Paul Camus becomes a roving ambassador for Cognac Camus.
03/05/00 The debate on the future of Cognac continues through the pages of a regional newspaper Sud Ouest (Forum SudOuest) where every politician so far has contributed his or her opinions displaying complete lack of knowledge and understanding of business.Cognac personalities demand to be heard but offer only partial solutions. The few producers, so far, offered constructive suggestions but not an overall strategy. With this background, Jean-Louis Texier, producer of Pineau and Cognac in Monchaude has taken action. He has open a Cave Gambetta in Barbezieux (on RN10 between Paris and Bordeaux) selling not only his products but also Cognac and Pineau from André Petit, Didier Lembert and GNAC&Co of Jean-Marie Verger. A step in right direction.
03/05/00 Drums are being ready, the trumpets are being warmed up - Torula News begins a countdown to one of the most imaginative introductions of new Cognac. Watch this space on 13 May 2000 at 22:00.
02/05/00 José Bové of the anti-McDonald's and WTO Seattle protests made his way into Cognac recently to promote his book: "The world is not a merchandise". Enjoying rocquefort cheese and VSOP at La Ribaudière Restaurant in Bourg Charente, he came to sell his one merchandise; his book. There is more than one French paradox. (Sud-Ouest29/04/00, Torula News)
02/05/00 7th edition of Cognac Blues Passions (27-30/07/00) under Michel Rolland steady guidance promises to top off the previous ones with 20 daily concerts scheduled. Headliners are: Robert Lockwood Jr and CJ Chenier on Thursday, Chris Thomas King and Mighty Mo Rodgers are on Friday, Shemekia Copeland and Mighty Sam McLain play on Saturday and Big Rude Jake opens for Ray Charles on Sunday. Led by Cognac Rémy Martin (Rémy'n'Blues Cocktail) all major Cognac houses except Martell are scheduled to participate as well. A right venue, a right approach for Cognac, both the drink and the city. If BNIC could just take a hint!
01/05/00 Pineau des Charentes industry bouyed by positive sales results (more than 13 million bottles sold last year) have unveiled new packaging developed by Atlanpack. It has color, it is easy to carry and more importantly it is affordable for the producers. Christophe Thomas three-year reign as a Director of the Comité National de Promotion du Pineau des Charentes (CNPC) is paying off. Sales increased 20% over the past 3 years with France accounting for 10 million bottles, Belgium for 2.5 million and Canada for the rest. The CNPC promotion budget of F16 million is well spent. Is BNIC listening?

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