raisinlogo.jpg (4356 bytes)

Torula News

Global News & Headlines 

June 1999 

29/06/99 Cognac, An Independent Guide to the people, the product and the region has been published by Lusina Publishing Company yesterday. Written by Mac Andrew, Chief Correspondent for Torula News, illustrated by Marie Claire Pajeile and edited by Rosamund Goode. It covers over 60 personal notes from the chais, over 160 Cognac tastings and over 290 Cognac producers contacts and much more. To purchase click here.
29/06/99 RémyCointreau, a parent of Cognac Rémy Martin, reports improved results for the year ending 31 March on the strength of its liqueur, wine, whisky and champagne activities. Cognac sector is not performing as well but it is sustained by the American and revived Asian markets. At the same time, Rémy Martin unveiled its year 2000 entry -limited edition of Louis XIII in a numbered series of Baccarat carafe with a Grande Champagne eaux-de-vie titled "Celebrate Year 2000". Price in France starts at FRF8500 for a 70 cl and FRF18,000 for a 1.5 l magnum. (Sud-Ouest 28-29/06/99, Torula News)
29/06/99 General Assembly of the FSVC (Federation of Vitulteurs Unions by Cru) met yesterday to commiserate on the state of the Cognac industry. Pierre Bonneau (of Bons Bois) summarized best when he said: "Our cru Kleenex". And yet; markets are working and orders are coming. Time has come to sound a more optimistic note. A word of caution is needed when the industry channels all its efforts and advertising budgets into a single, domestic market in France (about 5%) forgetting that the real growth comes from abroad (95%). Before it is too late the industry needs to refocus on the foreign markets and pro-actively defend them. And, of course, the quality must be the basis for the growth. (Sud-Ouest28/06/99, Torula News)
27/06/99 Over 30 new Cognac (eaux-de-vie) tasters (all but one from the Cognac industry) graduated from a six months long course at ORECO in Cognac. The well organized and demanding course was led by known Cognac experts in the region, Mr. Audemard and Mr. Robert. Our correspondent was among the graduates. For more details click here.
27/06/99 The new build gabare (flat bottom boat) will be launched on the river Charente on 3 July at 17:00 at St. Simieux. Rather than carrying Cognac barrels to La Rochelle it will carry up to 60 visitors on nostalgic cruises. It culminates a year long effort of Jean-Jacques Delage and his team of builders led by Max Maïola. For more check our item on 14/05.
27/06/99 The 1999 Le Cognac en Fêtes ! "portes ouvertes"/"Open Doors" dates are 18-19 and 26 December 1999. Pascal Millasseau and  his Les Bouilleurs de Cru look forward to welcoming you at their Cognac distilleries.
27/06/99 First Annual Debriefing Session between Torula News and the management of BNIC was held last Friday. In attendance were: Bernard Guionnet, President, Alain Philippe, Director General and Claire Coates, Communication Director and our correspondent. In a Finish sauna like temperature, a two hour session covered many topics; promotion and advertising of Cognac, role and functions of BNIC, tastings and product quality enforcement, Film Policier Festival, China and so on. In the next few weeks, Torula News will cover some of those subjects. To clarify our item from May and a frequently surfacing story in the industry, we asked Claire Coates: "Is it true that you are leaving BNIC" She answered: "I'm not leaving".
24/06/99 Patrice Frank, President of the Sommeliers Association in Poitou-Charentes and Head Sommelier at Château L'Yeuse in Cognac is leaving for Luxembourg. Expert on wines and regional products like Cognac and Pineau (he recently wrote on the subject and published it at the VINEXPO). We often tasted with him and will miss his quiet wit and professionalism. Torula News wishes him success.
24/06/99 A few years back Philippe Arrivé traded his bankers pinstripe suit for farmer's overalls. And now the results are begin to come in. Concentrating primarily on producing Cognac from Bons Bois cru he has developed a full range of products including Pineau. He works 7 days a week and enjoys it. His Cognac de L'Augerie, with its interesting packaging, is worth a try.
24/06/99 The automobile industry generated US$350 billion revenue, telecommunications did US$270 billion in 1998 in the USA. Internet generated US$301 billion of which US$102 billion was generated by the e-commerce alone. One key element is an average revenue generated by an Internet employee of US$250,000 which compares to an overall US average of US$160,000 for 1998. It should also be noted that the majority of Internet companies have not made a profit but still managed to employ 1.2 million people. This study was sponsored by Cicso Systems Inc. and conducted by the University of Texas. Hello Europe, hello France, time has come to lower communication (phone) and other related charges and to support the entrepreneurs of the Internet.(IHT11/06/99, Torula News)
24/06/99 French Sénat (321 senators) and the invited guests enjoyed Cognac promotion today, in Paris. All regional politicians are proud of this achievement. Some regional governments will even replace whisky with Cognac at their functions. Good idea! But wouldn't it be simpler to help Cognac producers with their promotion expenses, say F5 per bottle sold? A simple action that will go long way. Just like Pineau people do. And no need for fancy party and free Cognac donations from the producers. (Sud-Ouest, Torula News)
23/06/99 Gérard Ordonneau of SCEA Domaine de la Grolette in Cherves De Cognac sells more Pineau des Charentes bottles than Cognac. And yet, his Très Vieille Réserve des Borderies Cognac is of very good quality. This 3rd generation viticulteur who bottles since 1945 and distills a la Martell is not to be missed.
23/06/99 In front of the Hennessy building, on the Quay, on the 19th of July there will be fun, laughter and much friendly competition (La Fête du Cognac); on the river Charente there will be Barrels Race and at 18:00 a great Secondhand Bazaar and Auction (Brocante/Trocante) of Cognac related items organized by Maurice Izambard. Come and visit or participate by registering at the Office du Tourisme de Cognac, 16 rue du 14 Juillet - 16100 Cognac, phone: +33 (0)5 45 82 10 71. La Fête du Cognac is organized by Young Viticulteurs of the region and led by François Mery.
22/06/99 Return to quality at Cave du Liboreau resulted in a bronze medal in Brussels for Calisinac Cognac Napoleon (we rated it 6/10; very fruity, mellow with medium length). Not to be ignored is their re-made XO which late last year barely rated 2/10 in our tastings. This new Calisinac Cognac XO is fruity with hints of flowery aromas which indicates a presence of Grande Champagne in this basically Fins Bois product. It has a touch of spice on the palate but is round if a bit short for an XO. With the 7/10 rating it puts the Cave back into the quality products. After major problems in bottling at the Cave St. Sornin, the wine exported by the Cave du Liboreau into the UK is back to its good quality standard. Their white wine exports into Sweden with an innovative packaging sells well, confirming that quality is the key.
22/06/99 Lost in the excitement of VINEXPO was the successful Cognac promotions by the Cognac Tonique and Lions at the 24 hours Le Mans car race with some 500 people tasting.
22/06/99 12 Charentes members of Cave Particulières or French Private Cellars who produce Cognac, Pineau des Charentes and other regional products open their gates as a part of the Circuit des Visites. Geographically organized it offers very good choices for coastal (La Rochelle, Rochefort, Royan) tourists and visitors as well as the ones around Angouleme, Cognac or Matha.
19/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 6: The Sixth Day was for rest and observations. Here are our summary notes from a well organized (short of building another bridge or tunnel there seems to be no solution to the car traffic), well managed and well attended VINEXPO:
  • Cognac sells because quality sells and the demand for quality is real
  • Industry must stop talking about crisis as it simply turns off importers and the consumer in general. Time has come for BNIC to take a lead on this
  • Cognac needs a generic advertising campaign (even Pastis talks of Crus!). Once again; hello BNIC!
  • Time has come to put Cognac Tonic promotion on the back burner. Foreign and French markets will adopt to Cognac Tonic (see L&L lead on this) but the industry must return to the generic Cognac promotions. You can not erase luxury, quality image and years of success of Cognac because a limited audience in the region fancy  Cognac Tonic
  • Many smaller Cognac producers of quality products are seeing real interest in their products but they should pay attention to the quality and not pursuing every fancy idea
  • Big Cognac houses like Hennessy, Rèmy Martin, Camus with new products and new strategies and new distribution arrangements are doing better
  • Pineau des Charentes has not found a magical formula of either explaining what it is or promoting it. Lots of work still to be done
  • Armagnac lead by White Armagnac and the vintages will steady itself and maintain growth
  • Vins de Pays Charentais is already in trouble. It is simply invisible but it is maybe, not too late to act.

We finished our coverage of VINEXPO having a drink at the XO Cafe (reminding us of the Greenwich Village bars in New York) and an Omelet Bordelaise followed by a duck at the Lou Magret, a small restaurant, kitty corner from the XO Cafe. All roads lead to Tokyo for the VINEXPO 2000 via one in Buenos Aires in autumn 1999. But the real one will always be in Bordeaux. See you in 2001!

18/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 5: He does it again! Lafragette Tonic (on tap and in bottles) and Cognac Bio Genesis follows the footsteps of XO Beer, full range of Cognacs including Folle Blanche from Petite Champagne, and, of course, Alizé. Master Blenders and Master Marketers, par excellence. With Kobrands distributing in America and the Caribbean with Taitinger Group doing the rest and Hennessy networking Alizé, L&L is well positioned to achieve further growth. A best example where quality and imagination go hand-in-hand. We take the hats off to Jean-Paul Lafragette and his team.
18/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 5: Fiée des Lois has been bottling water and wines since 1987, they have over 2000 distributors world-wide. They are an Intermarche company, one of the largest supermarkets chain in France. And now, they begin bottling Vin de Pays Charentais purchased from the cooperatives of Cave St. Sorin, Sica Thalassa and Distributeur Charentais. We note this positive step with a message to Madame Diversification de Vin de Pays Charentais: the absence of promotion or any marketing efforts on behalf of 100s of Vin de Pays Charentais producers was a glaring omission and an error. It is not enough to convince viticulteurs to adjust their production (from Cognac to wines) it is necessary to create market opportunities for them. No one would want to talk about Vin de Pays Charentais crises in 2 to 3 years time. Time to act is now.
18/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 5: In the press office we met Pierre Ferrand, the real one. He was distributing photocopies of articles about the Ferrand saga. We asked: "Where is your beret?" With his ever present smile he answered: "It is too hot here to wear it. My case will be coming up on 27/09/2000." This sad story of his quality Cognacs was lost  during the VINEXPO, though Gabriel&Andreu are selling it well. But without the real Pierre Ferrand it is just not the same. More on the Ferrand saga read Torula News in the next few days.
18/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 5: Happy smiles again at the Prunier, Eymard-Croizet, Delamain Cognac stands indicating that the quality will always prevail.
18/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 5: Rebirth at the Distillerie des Moisans - new products, new style, new managers. First and foremost, URB'N returns as URB'N Cognac in a new packaging attacking white spirits market. Then the Très Rare Single Cru de Cognac series from Grande and Petite Champagne, Borderies and Fins Bois. Adding to the already existing Roland Bru XO, the company is poised to shift its 90% sales in France to a more balanced domestic and export split of its 1.5 million bottles of Cognac and 1.2 million bottles of Pineau des Charentes sold last year. Helicopter rides or not, the sisters Bru are back with style, quality and a real game plan.
17/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 4: Suren Kazumian comes from Armenia. He is CCG (Cognac Meukow, Brugerolle etc.) importer in Russia and Belgium. And he now has his own Cognac - Cognac Kazumian 2000 Brugerolle VS and VSOP. We tasted VSOP, we liked it and we wish him much success as he is one of the great Ambassadors of Cognac.
17/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 4: Recently Denis Lahaouratate of Léopold Gourmel found a number of special casks in his ageing warehouse in Genté. He taste it and decided that the content was so unique, and so good that he convinced Olivier Blanc to create a special year 2000 product; Alcyon de Gourmel. An outstanding Cognac debut at this VINEXPO!
17/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 4: The talk of the town and the aisles of VINEXPO including the Mayor of Bordeaux, Alain Juppe, is the "Parkerisation of Bordeaux wines". When will Cognac finds its own Parker? We asked ourselves that question as we visited, among others, the ever busy stands of A. E. Dor, Delamain, Leyrat, Château de Beaulon, Thorin, Drouet, Couprie, Giraud, Ragnaud-Sabourin, Menuet, L&L, Bertrand, A. Hardy, Guerbe, Philippon, Boutinet. The demand for Cognac was very visible at those stands which further makes the point that quality and nothing but quality is the key element in selling Cognac. Robert Parker make this point many years ago re: Bordeaux wines and the results are phenomenal. Same has to happen to Cognac. Click here for pictures from the busy Cognac stands.
16/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 3: New publications covering Cognac and Pineau des Charentes debut at VINEXPO: Le Revue du Sommelier Cognac - Pineau written by Patrice Frank and, in yet another incarnation of  Planet XO Magazine, Planet Vins & Spiriteux X.O. The first one is a very noble effort with much needed details on how, what, where while a bit short on producers reference contacts. The second one is a sleek, un-focused publications loaded with data, big names interviews, lots of advertising but Cognac is limited to Hennessy, L&L, Roland Bru, Rémy Martin and few others.
16/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 3: With fewer Japanese in attendance; Thai, Singapore, Taiwan and China importers well represented Asia. But a noticeable increase of visiting trade people were from South America led by the Brazilian contingent. It all bodes well for the future of Cognac.
16/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 3: It all came to a rousing finale at the Château Macay with Champagne (J.B.Michel), Côtes de Bourg (Château Macay), Pouilly-Fumé (Domaine Landrat Guyollot), Côtes-du-Rhône (Domaine Michelas Saint Jemms), Pays du Gard (Cellier du Mas de Montel), Alsace (Domaine Gérard Metz)) and Cognac (François Voyer) all declared winners on quality and taste. A great idea, very well executed.
15/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 2: Outside traffic was more acceptable than yesterday but in the aisles of the exhibition you could hear every language spoken with Americans clearly in majority. We visited large pavilions of Alliance International (a Suntory Group member) in search for Louis Royer Cognac, Seagram where we wanted to see the new shape of Martell's VSOP bottle (changed for practical rather than marketing reasons), Rémy Martin Silver (a replacement for Platinum) at RémyCointreau that was not available and at Marie Brizard we found the new Cognac Gautier Fine Champagne Reserve Celebrates 2000 Years of Discovery - a brilliant packaging. It appears that Cognac has taken a step back, working in the shadows of wines, champagnes and other spirits. And yet, there is a plethora of new products and we have seen well put together presentations like the RémyCointreau pavilion where  Françoise Lapeyre' touch has not lost its magic.
15/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 2: In the footsteps of Symphonie and the Group of 5, another grouping of Cognac producers made its debut at the VINEXPO - Chapelle Sonneville. It comprises of five Cognac and Pineau des Charentes producing families from Grande Champagne: Banchereau, Couprie, Denis, Drouet and Thorin. As their motto says: Five families united in the same spirit. They offer VS, VSOP, Napoleon, XO and two qualities of Pineau des Charentes.
15/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 2: White Armagnac from Adex is now available under the name of Blanche de Bordeneuve, Eau-de-vie de vin. With exports already to the UK and Belgium, priced in France at retail level at 100F, Tom Guasch of Adex said: "It goes well with soda, with juices and with a sorbet. A good entry into the white spirits market for us." Check www.maison-armagnac.com
14/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 1: Best quote of the day is from Eric Moriceau, bartender at the Bar Regency, Hotel Prince de Galles in Paris, working at the Marie Brizard stand: "I have a good selection of Cognacs in my bar. I sell a lot of it, mainly to Americans and English. Among most popular are Rémy Martin, Hennessy and Delamain. It is the Delamain that is in biggest demand".
14/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 1: It was like the best of the Hollywood musicals except there was no music. Comite National du Pineau des Charentes continues its promotional campaign on the theme of sea, navy and the summer fun. Some 15 young woman dressed as Navy deckhands with Captain's hats saying Miss Meteo have crowded the stands of producers. What was forgotten in all of this summer like fun was the product; Pineau des Charentes. All in all it was overproduced and raised a question: Do you drink Pineau des Charentes only in the summer, at the sea or on the beach?. This seaside extravaganza will continue as the 37th Congress of Confreries is scheduled for La Rochelle, 4 - 9 May 2000.  But maybe there is a chance to salvage this situation; why not to invite City of New Rochelle, USA and other Rochelles around the world to help in promoting the product. The demand for it in the USA exists year around!
14/06/99 VINEXPO - Day 1: Christian Thomas reign as the Director of the Comite National du Pineau des Charentes produced change of direction that have resulted in annual overall increase of sales to around 5%, matching promotional grants of 5F per bottle to producers who export, greater emphasis on quality and price consultations. All good signs except the Sea and Navy theme of the promotion campaign. Good signs are on the horizon but the waters are still choppy for the Pineau des Charentes producers.
06/06/99 While Distillerie des Moisans suspends sales of URB'N, H. Mounier develops a strong marketing campaign for the Furio Concept which includes Gin, Tequila and Cognac. With Pure White, Angel Night and others bottling white spirits fight for the shelves space already, the future of "Cognac Blanc" may not be known till early 2000. But the Cognac industry should not give up. There is a niche market for such products as confirmed by ever growing sales of, for example, Absolut Vodka.
06/06/99 7th edition of the Tourist Rally of Grande Champagne (by foot, by horse, by bike or by car or motorcycle) was conducted with great success; weather cooperated, more participants than spaces available, great atmosphere. Book for next year now :phone/fax +33-5-45833777 
04/06/99 Les Grands Crus de Scotland are: Highland (Dalwhinnie), Skye (Talisker), Speyside (Cragganmore), West Highland (Oban), Islay (Lagavulin) and Lowland (Glenkinchie). This ad has run recently in Square Meal Magazine in the UK. If it was not for Hennessy X.O°C launch   promotion piece, Cognac would have been forgotten. When will we see a generic Cognac advertising from the BNIC?
03/06/99 In our 03/05 item we have reported about possible merger of Courvoisier and Bisquit. This is now underway but with a twist; Pernod-Ricard, a parent of Bisquit is mounting a takeover bid for AlliedDomecq, a parent of Courvoisier taking a lesson from Olivetti's bid for Telefonica. Smaller can be beautiful!
03/06/99 We couldn't resist! Heyman, Barwell Jones Ltd. of London (+44-171-730-0324) are offering Early Landed Vintage Cognac. Among these gems are: Delamain 1972  and 1973 Grande Champagne (L1974, B1998), Exshaw 1973 Grande Champagne (L1974, B1997), Hine 1961 Grande Champagne (L1962, B1991), Hine 1964 Grande Champagne (L1965, B 1990), Hine 1966 Grande Champagne (L1967, B1991) and Denis Mounie 1969 Grande Champagne (L1972, B1993). All at 40% volume strength, sold only in cases. With a bit of copywriter's stretch, they explain: "With hotter temperatures, such as those in France, Cognac loses much of its bulk but little alcoholic strength.".
02/06/99 Cognac Leyrat with assistance of Actunet, conducted recently an Amateur Tasting in Helsinki, Finland. They presented Napoléon, XO, XO Elite, Extra and Très Vieux. The tasters at the Radisson SAS Hotel rated the last 3 Cognacs in high 8s out of 10.
02/06/99 We have got it wrong! In our May item (25/05) about Alambic traveling, if approved, to England it is Waterloo Station and not the Victoria Station where it might be displayed. Similar negotiations are underway for Roissy-CDG TGV station.
01/06/99 1999 International Spirits Challenge (ISC) has told Torula News that "because of the publishing embargo on the results until July" we are not able to publish results. What a pity! London Wine Fair just finished and VINEXPO is coming! We quote: " In the Cognac category the judges awarded clear winner the trophy, 5 silver, 6 bronze and 10 seals of approval. This year's judges included Olivier Paultes and Simon Palmer.  The tasting was conducted in early May.

Global News for:  May99 April '99 March'99, February'99 January'99    1998

Cognac Pineau des Charentes Armagnac Brandy
Buy on Internet Vin de Pays Charentais Hotel Restaurants Tourism
www.swfrance.com www.cognacnet.com

C01 January 2001                                                                   Copyright © 2000 Lusina ISG, Inc.

Torula News