I have to begin this post with an admission: I stole (or rather, borrowed) the phrase “Cognac Maniac” from the BNIC, who organized this lovely trip to Cognac. You can join the Cognac Maniacs Facebook page here.
Now that I’ve cleared the air, here’s a little overview of my trip thus far:
What do you get when you blend the best sommeliers, journalists, and mixologists from countries like England, Germany, Austria, and the U.S.? Perhaps something equivalent to an X.O. Cognac? Close, anyways.
This 4-day experience officially entitled the “International Cognac Summit (ICS)” is in its 4th year now. Each year, the groups are put to work and assigned an official task: The first year it was to create the signature “Summit Cocktail”…the second year it was to create the official Cognac Aroma Wheel…
This year, our task is to “Measure Pleasure.” Now, this may sound very unattainable and a tad on the controversial side, but according to our leaders, it can be done. To prove it, we were each given small “Pleasure Indicators” or “Cognaculators”: small remote control devices in which we can press numbers from 0 to 10 to indicate our pleasure level. Needless to say, we’ve been amusing ourselves with the innumerable innuendos that come along with a device such as this. But in all reality, it’s a very interesting concept that we are all on board with.
Our first official day was filled with tasting, visiting, and dining. Our morning began with an introduction into the Cognac market (Did you know that there is the equivalent of 1.2 billion bottles of stock in Cognac, or that 5 bottles of Cognac are consumed per second in the entire world? I sure didn’t.)
Next up was a presentation by Dr. Luc Lurton, the head of research at the BNIC. We learned that Cognac has several hundred aroma compounds that all come from either the grapes, the fermentation process, distillation, or the wood casks.
The German spirits superstar Jurgen Deibel then introduced our little pleasure remote controls that we will be carrying around with us for the duration of the trip. It really is a cool concept – the information collected from these remotes get transported to a special computer program that computes and analyzes the date, forming a graph with the results. Mind-blowing.
Later on we had the pleasure of visiting the Cognac Frapin distilery situated in the heart of the vineyards. I wish I had the photos uploaded at this point – but there’s just not time. Please check back in a few days to see all the photos.
A highlight was hearing Max Cointreau, a living legend in the spirits business, chat about his cognac and the importance of our visit to his distillery. Yes, Max Cointreau as in THE Cointreau. His family joined forces with the Remy Martin family to create the powerhouse that is Remy Cointreau.
We toured the facilities, which seem as genuine and true as they get. Lunch was a veritable cornucopia of cured meats, smoked salmon, fois gras, breads, and cheeses. And, of course, Cognac. Mind you, this meal was served entirely in the authentic Chateau Fontpinot on the Cognac Frapin property.
I think I can speak for the rest of the group and say…
Speechless…we were all speechless.
Parts 2 & 3, along with some nifty pics (and perhaps a video or two) of the trip, are still to come in the next few days — so stay tuned!