Come and meet the men and women who make the Cognac!
There are so many things to share with Cognac producers. Guided tour or bespoke visit, check out the different styles of the houses, from the grandest to the most hidden. Prefer green tourism? Set off to meet the winegrowers on their properties. When winter approaches, and the vines have gone to sleep, is when you'll find the grower-distillers around their stills, ready to share their ancestral savoir-faire on double-distillation.
Gourmet tourism? The Cognac appellation offers a host of delicious and surprising experiences. These days cognacs have moved away from the traditional digestive liqueur to become part of a meal from start to finish, in various culinary delights, or in creative cocktails. Exactly ten years ago the Summit cocktail was invented. Cognac, lemonade and ginger beer based, it's a favourite in the region. Today, two cocktail bars take pride of place: Louise, the pioneer since 2012, recently revisited and revamped by Germain Canto, formerly of the Barber Shop in Sydney, who now co-manages the place with Flavien Faure; and a new-comer, le Luciole, opened last year with Guillaume Le Dorner as manager, the support of English man Tony Conigliaro, international reference for cocktail bars, and Luc Merlet, from the house of the same name. On the food side, the Accords majeurs du Cognac menu dreamt up by starred-chef Thierry Verrat is an absolute must in his restaurant La Ribaudière, in Bourg-Charente.
Not forgetting, of course, the wide network of bars and regional restaurants whose aim is to showcase local specialities.
Not only is there something for all tastes, the party lasts all year! In the winter, we keep warm in the distilleries as we meet up with the grower-distillers. Come summer and it's time for the music festivals and other fetes: from the blues (Cognac Blues Passions, in July) and the Fête du Cognac (end of July), a mix of music with regional products, via classical music (Festi' Classique, in August), but also a wide range of workshops to discover the aromas and secrets of cognac, or again the Cognac Tuesdays events (from July to September). These came from a joint venture between the cognac sector and the network of eco-friendly gardens or Jardins respectueux (16 educational gardens in Poitou-Charentes, designed to respect local biodiversity). This initiative reflects public demand and a growing offer from all those involved in discovering and protecting the environment. This kind of approach has now spread to all the vineyards!