Have a Cognac this summer

You do not need to be a lover of Cognac in order to travel there, but chances are you will be at the end of your visit. «Cognac is the world’s most famous grape brandy”. It has, through its 300 year history, achieved an iconic status, and is currently exported to all corners of the world. Why is cognac so attractive? The simple answer is a combination of many factors: soil, climate, grapes, distilling, the art of blending, storage, tradition and history. These are all factors that combine to make up the exceptional synthesis of cognac. And the very best way of experiencing cognac is to travel to Cognac.

The status of cognac is not only due to its exquisite and unique flavors. Cognac is also a strong symbol. It exudes strength, prosperity and power. It is the closing chord of a large meal. When appetizers, main course and desserts are out of the way, the only thing missing, is the cognac.

For the biggest celebrations, you open that special cognac that you have been saving for a long time. When in front of the fireplace after a hard day’s work or a skiing trip in the mountains, there are few things that taste better than a glass of cognac. The Japanese prefer it with their best sushi, the American rappers love it anytime and anywhere, and the English, well they mix it with ginger ale for their parties.

Who produces the best wines? Endless discussion, but France is certainly the world’s top producer of grape brandy. Cognac is often smooth, harmonious, fruity and balanced, but far from boring. Good cognac can be one of the most complex drinks that exist – as Bach on the bottle.

The landscape and the countryside around the town of Cognac is a must whilst visiting. Cycling is the optimal mode of transport, the picturesque villages will come at you at just the right speed. You will pass the squiggly brooks where old men sit lazily fishing. Families on Sunday outings play in the luscious green grass. Sweethearts closely entwined under two hundred
year-old oak trees. Tiny, defunct train stations, dirt roads that crossing the landscape, leading to one secluded haven after another. To venture into such a landscape is to experience an identity that can only be found here. Bring a picnic basket with good cheeses, delicious ham and juicy red tomatoes and a baguette. It can hardly get any better.

The House of Bache-Gabrielsen is a family owned and run business, located centrally in the city of Cognac. Here you are more than welcome to drop by for a chat, a tour of the cellars and office premises, and of course sample some of the House’s precious drops. The firm’s premises in Rue de Boston 32 is like a time machine: you can reach right into the interwar period. Antique office furniture in precious wood, solid wood flooring with solid walls and the patina of history. Even though Bache-Gabrielsen today is the world’s sixth largest cognac company, in terms of liters sold, one senses that this is about a symbiosis of crafts, tradition, culture and nature, not just a way of making money. A trading house for sure, but at the same time a living example of what cognac is, has been and can be. A combination of small scale production and large-scale business operations, where the wine farmer’s work in the vineyards is assimilated into the global economy.
20 years ago Bache-Gabrielsen sold merely 2000 bottles in Norway. Today the figure is a staggering 1 300 000, an increase of 65,000 – sixty-five thousand – percent. This formidable growth is a result of the combination of the firm’s longtime focus on optimum quality, and that people have discovered how good their cognacs actually are.

Hervé Bache-Gabrielsen (35), the fourth-generation owner and the current CEO explains that they enjoy the frequent visits of cognac lovers, maybe particularly those from Norway. Regardless of nationality, all visitors are warmly received and get the opportunity to discover how the world’s best spirits from grapes are being developed / processed to precious cognac. The House’s longtime cellar master Jean-Philippe Bergier (since 1989) and the rest of the Bache-Gabrielsen family will show you around the basement, where barrels of cognac are stored, the unique offices, the bottling line and of course paradise, that room in the basement wherein Bache-Gabrielsen store their most unique cognacs, distilled back in the19th century. When one sees these rows of ancient glass balloons twinkle in there in the dim light, it is easy to be humble.

There is something magical about seeking out the area in which such a famous product as cognac is made. One gets a chance to see things in a larger context, experience the authenticity, as well as gain a deeper understanding of what it actually takes to produce such a unique product. There will however always remain an unknown quantity, as part of our attraction to cognac is the uncertainty we experience at the exact moment we believe we have it all figured out, then a new element will appear and we are left wondering how it all happened.

More information

Cognac is a cosy, small city with approximately 20000 inhabitants, most of them somehow related to the production of cognac . The city centre is relatively small, and moving around is easy. Read more

The vineyards is where it all starts, and they should be experienced first-hand. The Grande Champagne area is the very heart of Cognac, located just south of Cognac (regional capital) and Jarnac. Read more

By the Atlantic coast salt-mines have been in operation for several hundred years, and a visit to that part of the region is highly recommended. Read more

How to get there. Read more

A few links to selected hotels and restaurants. Read more

A few links to facilitate your visit. Read more