Cognac, a delicious liqueur and a beautiful place

When you hear the word "Cognac" your first thought may be of the drink Cognac which is appreciated by many, but Cognac is also a cozy and touristy city in southwest France which is definitely worth visiting during your holiday. The city of Cognac is located between the coastal region of Charente-Maritime and the Dordogne region. The area has extensive vineyards, which is where the wine and Cognac is produced, and authentic French villages with characteristic houses and castles. Cognac has become famous thanks to its delicious cognac wines. It is also the only place where cognac wines can be distilled. Every year, around 200 million bottles are sold to over 160 countries.

Visit Cognac during your holiday

Cognac is a beautiful city on the Charente river, in the southwest of France. In the past almost everything including goods and people was transported by water. This is the reason the large cognac trading houses are located directly on the quay of the Charente. The trading houses have their roots deep in the rich trading history of the city. During your holiday you can stroll along the quay and view these stunning buildings. A visit to these buildings and perhaps a tasting of all the delicious cognacs, are also definitely worth putting on your program. Visiting the Château de Cognac and the old city center which has beautiful medieval streets and buildings, cozy squares and beautiful churches, are also activities you should consider partaking in. Visiting the cognac region, the extensive vineyards, the river Charente and the beautiful villages will give you that proper French feeling.

Old town of Cognac

The old city centre has been well cared after despite the many battles that have taken place in and around the area during the Hundred Years' War. Behind the Château Royal de Cognac you’ll find the oldest part of the city which can be recognized by the medieval houses. From the quays you can walk to it in no time. Around the church Saint-Léger which was built in 1130 you’ll find cozy shopping streets with boutiques and galleries. The oldest and most beautiful house of Cognac is Maison de la Lieutenance which is located on the Rue Grande.

The centre of Cognac

  • Château de Cognac
  • Eglise Saint-Léger
  • Maison de la Lieutenance
  • Medieval houses
  • Boutiques and galleries

Château Royal de Cognac

The Château Royal de Cognac is also located directly on the river Charente. François I, later king of France, was born in this castle in 1494. François I already made Cognac a flourishing place during his time due to the lucrative salt trade on the Charente river. A little further along the river you’ll find the Tour Saint-Jacques, a city gate from the Middle Ages with remnants of the city walls. Château Royal de Cognac is now owned by the famous cognac brand Baron Otard. You can visit the castle and go on a guided tour which end in the historic cellars where you can taste the cognacs.

The "Crus" or "Terroirs" of the Cognac

For centuries grapes have been grown in the region surrounding Cognac. The quality of the grapes and the wines that were made from them were striking. Around 1860 a major investigation took place under the direction of Henri Coquand. Together with his employees, he investigated the soil in the areas around Cognac. It took him 10 years to distinguish and divide the areas based on the characteristics of the soil. Around 1909, these six areas were officially demarcated and laid down in a decree in 1936. Such a demarcated area is called a "cru" or "terroir". These six terroirs are concentric circles with the city of Cognac as its center. The closest circle around the city has the highest quality, known as the Grande Champagne and the outer circle has the soil of the least quality, this area is known as the Bois Ordinaires. Cognac wines from these regions belong to the AOC: Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée and may use the name "cognac". This area is 79,000 hectares and is the largest region in France after the Bordeaux region.

The six crus or terroirs

  • Grande Champagne
  • Petite Champagne
  • Borderies
  • Finnish Bois
  • Bons Bois
  • Bois Ordinaries
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Jardin Public, green oasis in Cognac

Jardin Public is located near the quays of Cognac and the old town and is a 7-hectare city park designed in English style. In the middle of the park you’ll find the town hall of Cognac which was built in the 19th century. The park has extensive lawns surrounded by beautiful trees and shrubs and has a pond with fountains. The park has beautifully landscaped paths with benches where you can rest and enjoy nature.

The Cognac region’s unique soil

Whilst studying the soil of the cognac region, Henri Coquand discovered that it was quite exceptional. The Cognac region is part of the Aquitaine basin, an area that has alternated between being flooded and dried up, during the recent centuries. Due to this fluctuation, the current landscape has a high content of chalk. Chalk makes the soil friable and crumbly, which of great importance to the cognac. The type and quality of the chalk largely ensures the taste of the cognac. In the Grande Champagne, the area which produces cognac of the highest quality, the chalk is present in its purest form.

Lime content and type of lime

The lime content and the type of lime ensure the quality of the soil, which allows the grapes to develop optimally, in particular due to two reasons:

  • It ensures good water drainage while at the same time retaining a good percentage of moisture. The roots can also easily grow downwards, sometimes up to 25 meters deep. This constant water supply is of great importance.
  • In addition, grapes grown on calcareous soils have a higher acidity which is crucial for the production of Cognac.

Renowned cognac houses

  • ABK6
  • Bache-Gabrielsen
  • Baron Otard
  • Maison Boinaud
  • Camus
  • Cognac Courvoisier
  • Maison Frapin
  • Hennessy
  • Thomas Hine & Co.
  • Martell
  • Meukow
  • Rémy Martin
  • Roullet- Fransac
  • Tiffon-Braastad
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