Louis Bouron

Cognac & Pineaux

Petite Champagne & Fins Bois


all about Cognac, brandy and more ...™

André Petit

Cognac, Pineaux & Liquor 

Fins Bois

Spring 2001

Brandy@Internet continues from page 8

Usually their sites are unprofessional; either design is poor or their translation from French is appalling. Lack of information like tasting results limits consumer purchasing.

Big Four sites seems to target the US consumer with their mood concept and overwhelming use of Macromedia Flash software. Of those martell.com is the best. Confusing at best is Courvoisier, it exists as one page under courvoisier.com and State of Courvoisier under courvoisier.co.uk. Hennessy seems to have right idea with brand site like purewhite.com in addition to hennessy-cognac.com. All suffer with poor response to consumer emails. We asked a question at remy.com some 2 years ago and are still waiting for an answer.

One of the best sites are otard.com and signature-de-france.com, a site of Cognac J.Dupont. They are simple brand presentations, quick to download and with very good translations. If they just add product availability finder, they would be almost perfect.

BNIC (The Cognac Association) has a site which improves daily at bnic.fr. Lots of information with news skewed towards what BNIC considers important. The list of producers is not complete and it seems to compete with other sites by including snapshots of products and labels.

All in all, the state of Cognac@Internet is still in its infancy and much needs to be done for the producers to take advantage of this media and new distribution channel. On the way to the press, news came from St.Paul, MN of a new publication; www.brandymagazine.com. More on it in the summer issue. Mac Andrew larlog.jpg (6731 bytes)

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But today, it is very much business as usual. Lots of committees, lots of meetings and no hard decisions. Of course, Cognac is a French product and the industry is French but its business is abroad. This would suggest that the industry must be managed in a "foreign" style. The industry can not forget its roots; Hennessy was Irish, Otard was Scottish and Martell and Rémy Martin came from Channel Islands. It was these foreigners who created the Cognac industry. A difficult but not an impossible challenge, 35 hours work week or not.

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Get back to simplicity; VS, VSOP, XO and Extra. Let Courvoisier be the only one using Napoléon quality because historically it makes sense. Define age by making VS a 5 year old product (the youngest eaux-de-vie, minimum 25%), VSOP a 10 year old (the youngest eaux-de-vie, minimum 30%), XO a 20 year old (the youngest eaux-de-vie, minimum 35%) and Extra a 30 year old (the youngest eaux-de-vie, minimum 40%). Vintages (Millésime) should be chosen by a producer just like they do it in Champagne and Armagnac regions. Leave the 2.5 years old eaux-de-vie for products like Pure White etc.

To achieve it, Top 10 producers by bottles sold should have a 5 years transition period, all others 10 years. All legally produced and sold Cognac must be registered at BNIC and trade marked. No more nuances of Château and/or Logis Montifaud or Domaine and/or Fountaine La Pouyade. And, of course, BNIC as well as big producers need to establish consumer service facilities by phone and by Internet. The current internal structure of the industry is based on about 10 purchasing groups which in turn sell to the largest producers. Free the market by eliminating these groups and a healthy competitive spot market will develop. Those who still prefer contracts can negotiate them directly with big buyers. There will be some hardship but the prices will begin to reflect market's supply demand situation. This, of course, would lead to creating a Cognac Futures market, a long over due financial facility for buyers and sellers.

Internet nears its thirties anniversary and its seventh from a consumer point of view. About 80 Cognac producers have Internet presence; some created by ad agencies (a trend among the Big Four), some created by independents like le-cognac or cognacnet.com and others as a result of amateurish attempts. More on the subject in our summer 2001 editorial.

Among our top Cognac discoveries of year 2000 were Lefoulon VSOP from Petite Champagne, Pierre Serplet Hors d'Age from Grande Champagne and a full range of Cognacs from Jean Grosperrin. One word describes them best - quality! They are dry, full of rancio and not a trace of artificial sweetness which is an unfortunate trend/fashion among many VSOPs and XOs today.          Mac Andrew

What's in a name? torula cognacensis (compniacensis) is a fungus, identified by the black walls and roofs where Cognac (eaux-de-vie) is aging. It feeds on the alcohol evaporation from the barrels.
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