The learning hardway6th November, 2003 by db_staff - This article is over multiple pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
The brandy market has suffered decades of decline worldwide but it is finally looking buoyant again, says Nick Faith
COGNAC REMAINS the king of brandies, as it has been since the early 18th century. It is, and has always been, by far and away the most important brandy on the international scene.
Of course, any country which grows grapes also makes brandy from them and, usually, what are called "pomace brandies" or marcs and grappas to the non-specialist.
Nevertheless, most major brandyproducing countries, like South Africa, Australia, Mexico and the United States, sell very little if any brandy outside their borders.
Indeed, Cognac’s dominance was confirmed recently when Gallo, producer of by far the best-selling American brandy, started to market an excellent cognac of its own. And in truth only two brandies, Armagnac from Gascony and Brandy de Jerez, are of any consequence on the world market, though a look at page 28 will confirm that they trail far behind Cognac.
And while fine grappas, the only well-established pomace brandy, are becoming increasingly fashionable, the quantities involved are minimal.
Over the past 30 years, however, Cognac’s position has looked increasingly wobbly. For a start it has lost a whole generation of drinkers.
This was partly because of its old-fashioned image, but the problem was greatly exacerbated by a classic case of hubris which affected almost everyone involved in the production and sale of the precious stuff.
By 1976, as sales soared worldwide and stocks dropped, the amount of land planted to grapes in the Cognac region rose to reach 110,000 hectares (272,000 acres) making it by far the biggest region devoted purely to white grapes in France.