Treat your palate to the most superior variety of brandy and join us on a Cognac tour filled with fascinating history and culture, world-class gastronomy and awe-inspiring sights. Your unique tasting experience with Cognac awaits…
Join us on an unforgettable tour to unfold the secrets of the brandy industry and tantalize your taste buds with an introduction to Cognac. As the most expensive brandy in the world – and treasured for its rarity – Cognac has long been a popular staple for the rich and famous. From tales of King Louis XIII enjoying Rémy Martin in the 18th Century to modern-day celebrities sipping on Hennessy, the image is one of indulgence. But this barely scratches the surface in the land of Cognac production.
Steeped in rich history, a Cognac tour is an immersive experience that appeals to the most discerning of travellers. And the opulent culture that comes with it is what makes a tasting holiday with Wine Paths so incredible.
While all Cognac is brandy, not all brandy can be Cognac – and that’s because of the very special process involved in making the spirit. Cognac is to brandy what Champagne is to sparkling wine; it’s in a class of its own. That means that every bottle of Cognac comes with a stamp of authenticity, and our tours will journey to some of the most exclusive, hard-to-book distilleries in France.
With Wine Path tours, you can journey back in time to where it all began, taking in the fascinating history of Cognac production. From visiting historic distilleries and cellars to exploring the ancient sites and religious landmarks that have influenced the industry, there’s so much to see and do. Our tailor-made holidays will capture the imaginations of connoisseurs and beginners alike.
Tracing the origins of Cognac production all the way to the mid-17th Century, our tours take place in the Charente and Charente-Maritime départements of France. In the early beginnings, the region’s wines were distilled to withstand the shipment period to various ports in Europe. To keep the wine drinkable for long trips at sea, the Dutch would distill their wine to make eau de vie. This process created ‘brandewijn’ (burnt wine), which later came to be known as brandy.
From this, the art of fermentation and double distillation was born. As time went on, the brandy being created in the Cognac district was recognized as being far superior, and the 18th Century saw the birth of famous Cognac houses in the area. Martell was the first to be formed in 1715, and the house of Rémy Martin followed a decade later.
Since its early beginnings, Cognac production has been heavily regulated and the strict standards are still upheld today. Any Cognac must be double-distilled in copper pot stills then aged for at least two years in Limousin or Tronçais oak barrels. It is made primarily from a blend of white grapes that include the Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, and Colombard varietals. To be classified as a Cognac, it must contain at least 90% of those grapes, with the remaining 10% allowed for blending with other kinds such as Semillon, Jurançon Blanc, Folignan, Meslier St-François or Montils.
To immerse yourself into the complex and exciting regions of luxury French brandy, come along on one of our exclusive, tailor-made tours.
Every stage of production, from the grapes to the distillation, must be done within certain areas of Charente and Charente-Maritime. There are seven designated areas, with the two most important ones being Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne (not to be confused with the province of Champagne). These two are the finest in terms of Cognac quality. The other areas are Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois, Bois Ordinaires, and Bois Communs.
Join us on a tour along the prominent Cognac Route, where we will give you access to the finest distilleries. You’ll learn from the most respected experts in the industry, and you’ll discover the famous families and houses with productions that date back centuries. You’ll get to treat your palate to Grand Cru Cognacs and excellent vintages, and you’ll get to speak to leading cellar masters about their craft.
Not only is does the Cognac region ooze luxury at every turn, but the gastronomy is out of this world. Like many French regions, fine dining is just a part of everyday life. Food pairing makes brandy and wine tasting tours all the more exciting, and we can’t wait to take you with us on a culinary adventure.
Our tour will take you along the Cognac Route, starting at the spectacular Chateau de la Roche Courbon in Saint-Porchaire all the way to Saint-Bris-des-Bois finishing at the charming and elegant Fontdouce Abbey.
Going deep into the cellars of Cognac houses on this route will provide insight into this distinguished market. Unveil secrets behind the most expensive bottles of Cognac, discover more about the art of blending, and train your nose to distinguish key differences between varieties and brands. Taste Grand Cru Cognacs, take in beautiful historical sites and landmarks and make yourself at home at the most exclusive hotels and villas.
Read on for itinerary ideas for a fantastic cognac experience.
What are the flavor distinctions between Cognac and normal brandy?
Compared to a brandy like Armagnac, Cognac is said to be more subtle and gentle in taste. It’s also higher in alcohol.
Why is Cognac so expensive?
The distilling methods used for other liquors is less expensive than distilling Cognac. This is because the process to distill wine from grape juice is long and complicated, and therefore a lot more resources are used. The alcohol comes from grapes, not grain, and the harvesting process is costly.
How is the age of Cognac calculated?
The age is determined by the youngest eau de vie used in the blend. Blends usually consist of different ages and the combination of eaux de vie is important to obtain a complexity of flavors. The classifications are VS: (Very Special) for 2+ years, VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) for 4+ years, XO (Extra Old) for 6+ years, and Hors d’âge (“beyond age”) for products beyond the age scale.