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The Cognac and its history

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When history meets history... A short introduction to the history of the Cognac ...

The King François Ier, one of the pioneers of the "RENAISSANCE" and the protector of artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, was born in 1494 in the town of Cognac, nestled along the Charente river.

Nowadays, its medieval castle is still open to visitors and a statue of Francis I on his horse is in the heart of the city centre.

History takes us back to the IIIth century, when the Emperor Probus gave the Gallic people living in the region the privilege of planting vines and producing wine.

The region then took the name of "Vignoble du Poitou" and its production of wine, wheat and the salt trade contributed to its wealth for centuries.
This economic growth was accentuated by the trade with the English and Dutch, powerful trading nations, who encouraged trade during the Middle Ages.

During the 17th century and with the opening of new sea routes to distant destinations, the Saintonge, offering a dry and fruity wine, faced a serious problem: the high temperatures during sea transport damaged the wine.

So the winegrowers looked for solutions. One of them was to distill part of the production and, by mixing it with the rest of the wine, they raised the degree of alcohol, thus improving its preservation

The first French "eau-de-vie" was born.

The first traces of traditional Cognac appeared during the 18th century. During the crisis years, producers were forced to keep their "eaux-de-vie" in barrels until sales resumed. After they had slept in oak barrels, they found that they had taken on a nice amber colour and had developed pleasant aroma and taste.

Martell (1715) and Hennessy (1765), citizens of the United Kingdom, set up business in Cognac and began to sell their products abroad. A new market was born and soon large quantities of barrels of "eau-de-vie" originating from Cognac flowed from the regional port to England, Holland and then to the rest of the world.

In 1824 the "eau-de-vie" produced in Cognac took the official name of COGNAC.

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