COURTESY OF THE BNIC HOSTED BY Ms LAURINE CAUTE

On the 30th of September Mr Armand took 15 Bartenders from the Thames valley area & London , On a Fabulous visit to his home country, Yes France !! They were to visit some amazing Cognac Houses & Chateaus.

They all left Gatwick bright and early & arriving in Bordeaux to start their visit to Cognac, They arrived at the Hotel Le Valois in the centre of Cognac, where they would stay for the four days, and greeted by Laurine Caute, our host from the BNIC,

A quick freshen up then off to visit the first of their Cognac Houses , They Arrived at the Famous House of Hine on the banks of the River Charente, the only problem was that the English rain followed us there , But this did not dampen our spirits , Ha Ha

We were met by Per Even Allaire, Their Brand Ambassador, Per Even gave them a tour of the beautiful grounds and house, then went into the cellars to see the liquid gold nectar sleeping in their casks ,

After the cellars we were taken to the museum and tasting room where Per Even told us the history of Thomas Hine and his great Cognac, After a tasting experience of several Hine Cognacs we had to leave but not before Per Even very Kindly gave everyone a few samples of Hine Cognac and a book about the House of Hine ..

Next it was off to visit Martell’s Museum & cellars ( Strange as it may seem all the great houses were started by Englishman , Irishman , and a Channel Islander,) anyway back to Martell, we were given a great tour by a gentleman called Michael yes an Englishman , but by god he knew his Martell, the tour took us down into their amazing cellars , the blending room, and the museum, This was very interesting , although I had been before I still found it had a lot of history about Jean Martell.(From Jersey, Chanel Islands)

We then went with Laurine to the house of Jean Martell , The Chateau Chanteloupe, , Once here we met the Brand Ambassador Thierry Giraud who was our host for the evening,

Thierry invited us to try a range of Martell Cognacs or an Aperitif before Dinner,

A superb dinner was served with some excellent wines, this was finished off with a selection of Martel Cognacs and some Cuban Cigars .

Thierry then took us to their new cellars where he treated us to a sublime tasting of the “ Chanteloupe Perspective “. This was the Ideal finish to a Fantastic evening.

When we got back to the Hotel we found the Martell Fairies had been , they had left us all a bottle of Martell XO Cognac . Thank You Thierry.

Tuesday

We were on the coach bound for ABK6 /Leyrat to meet Elodie Abecassis, when we arrive we taken to see the vines and the Famous Ugni Blanc Grapes just before harvesting , which will take place next week . We were shown the harvesting machine and explained how the harvesting was done .

We were then invited to try some of their excellent Cognac along with a lovely lunch,

Elodie gave us a great presentation about their Cognacs, then I’m afraid we had to go.

Later on we were to visit the Beautiful Bonbonnet Chateau of Pierre Ferrand to meet their Export Manager Matthieu Gouze, We had a interesting visit of the distillery before having a look at the cellars and a tasting of a selection of their products,

We were then invited to dinner which was amazing and different it was in the very large Kitchen, very French, and Great Food.

We then went into the Garden to enjoy some more great Cognac, upon leaving Matthieu very Kindly gave everyone a bottle of the Pierre Ferrand 1st Cru De Cognac Grande Champagne 1840’s Style. And a few other gifts, Photo shoot then off we go.

Wednesday.

Well this was another wet miserable day , but were we deterred from our visit : NOOOO. We are used to this weather. LOL.

We paid a visit to the Vicard Cooperage where we were met (with Brollies in hand) by the Marketing Manager Pierre Marchaise. We started with the raw material piles of Limousin Oak logs, Pierre explained in detail how they cut them down to make the staves for the barrels , we then went to see how they were assembled also how they were toasted & the repair area. This was truly a fascinating experience .

A short ride and we were at the Chateau Meukow , the home of the Golden Nectar with the Leopard on the bottle,

We were given an amazing presentation about the history of Meukow Cognac by a very Charming Young Lady, They had arranged for our bartenders to try their hand at making a cocktail with the new Xpresso Coffee liqueur made with Cognac and the essence of Coffee beans,

While were there the Charente newspaper came along to take a photo of us and interview Armand about our visit to Cognac . Then it was a Superb Lunch in their restaurant that is for VIP’s and members of the Meukow Cognac Club.

The President of Meukow, Philippe Coste joined us for some after lunch Cognac’s along with his PA Lucille and his Marketing Communications, Celine.

Some nice photos and sad to say we had to leave not before Philippe gave everyone a bottle of Xpresso Cognac Liqueur. We presented them a UKBG pennant with some other gifts.

That evening were taken to the Chateau de Cognac, Baron Otard, where we were greeted by Philippe Jouhaud , Sales & Marketing Director,

This was a true Castle from centuries ago with a very sordid history , We went into the cellars, they were very dank and cold with some Cognac in demi-jeans, from the 1800’s, pre-phylloxera times, covered in thick cobwebs, would make a great place for a Halloweens party, Whaoooo hoooohooohoooo, I’m coming to get yoooouuu.

Back to reality , Philippe gave us an amazing Master class about the Cognac’s of Baron Otard , with nosing samples of different years and Grapes along with a tasting of some of the best Otard Cognacs,

We were then called for dinner, this was a banquet fit for a King, and amazing wines, The Desert was a sight to behold,.

We finished with some Otard XO Cognac , after which Philippe presented everyone with the “ Certificate D’Hote D’Honour “ and a bottle of Baron Otard XO Gold, London Vice Chairman, Fabio Immovilli presented Philippe with the UKBG pennant along with a Jade Glass trophy as a thank you for our visit and amazing evening .

Thursday

Well today is our last day of visiting these great Cognac house’s Laurine has been a great host and showed us around some fantastic Chateaus & Houses .

Well it’s all packed ready to got to our last two house’s, First we are going to visit Delamain a small but beautiful Cognac, We were met by Charles Braasted Director General, Who took us into their small but unique cellars, when we came up Charles gave us a tasting of some of their Cognacs , it was then that I noticed some demi-jeans with the year of my birth ( No not 1805 thank you ) which is also Armand’s,

I mentioned this to Charles who laughed and said I could not have a bottle , Pity , I’m sure I could find space for one in my case.

But he did get his cellar Master to take some out , just enough for Armand and I to taste , It was Heaven in a glass, this is something that Armand and I will never forget , this does not happen very often, Thank You Charles .

It was then off to a beautiful lunch at the L’Yeuse Chateau for a splendid meal courtesy of the BNIC, Here I’m afraid we parted company with our Great Lovely Host Laurine who we have so much to say thank you for , We all love you xxx.

Remy Martin , What can I say , Alexandre Quintin is a great ambassador and we could not leave Cognac without going to see him and the Famous Remy Martin,

We Were Greeted by our Dear Friend Alexandre who took us on their little road train to the cellars to see this Liquid gold in their resting place , there must have been Thousands of barrels in this cellar , but the best one was where they keep the Famous Louis XIII And Louis XIII Black Pearl, the bouquet of Cognac in this cellar was intoxicating , It was amazing to be with this great Cognac ,

Alexandre then took us to the presentation room for a tasting of the new & old version of the No!! not Louis XIII, the VSOP paired with food that goes well with it, this was very interesting ,

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A few more samples and some photo’s then we had to leave , but not before Alexandre gave us all a bottle of the new clear bottle VSOP which is for the European Market , The Green frosted is only for the American & Asian market these days .

SO GOODBYE THANK YOU COGNAC AND ALL THE GREAT PEOPLE WE MET

AND A BIG THANK YOU TO LAURINE CAUTE AND THE BNIC FOR A FANTASTIC AMAZING VISIT

MIKE SWEETMAN LONDON AREA CHAIRMAN UKBG .