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Cognac in Cognac You can’t go to Cognac and not do a tour and tasting. There are loads of options including Hennessy, Remy Martin and Martell. Just check at the tourist office for details of all that are available in the town and the surrounding countryside. One of the best tours is to be had at the Chateau Royal de Cognac.. It is an extraordinary visit of a majestic building – plus there’s a fabulous tasting… Royal Chateau de Cognac The Royal Chateau de Cognac overlooks the Charente river and was originally a 10th century fortress, designed to stop Norman invasions. Home to noblemen it was where one of France’s most celebrated kings, Francis I was born in 1515. It’s now the domaine of Baron Otard, whose cognac house was founded in 1795. The chateau then was in a state of neglect and the Baron had it restored and realised that the thick walls provide exceptional aging conditions for his eau-de-vie. Guided tours of the chateau are divided into two parts, French history and Baron Otard cognacs. (It's available in several languages). Tours begin in the historic part of the chateau, then onto the cellars. You can smell the cognac as you walk through the doors of the 12th century rooms above the cellars. The castle is wonderfully preserved, you’ll see the remains of a 12th century hot water system and the room where King Richard the Lionheart came to bless the wedding of his illegitimate son Philip of Cognac. There are sculptures and engravings, early style Renaissance rooms – in fact it’s said that the French Renaissance was born here. In some rooms there are engravings carved into the walls by English prisoners which are fascinating.
Cognac fact file Only brandy made in the Cognac region of France and under the strictest guidelines, may be called “Cognac.” V.S. (Very Special): stored for at least two years in cask V.S.O.P. (Very Superior Old Pale): stored for at least four years in a cask. XO (Extra Old) or Napoléon: stored for at least six years in a cask Hors d’âge (literally meaning Beyond Age): equal to XO, term is used by producers to market a highquality product beyond the official age scale. Use a tulip- shaped or balloon glass. to capture cognac’s subtle aromas. The ideal temperature to serve cognac is between 15 and 18ºC (59 to 64.4°F); too warm and it will evaporate and lose taste and flavour. Napoleon Bonaparte’s favourite drink was cognac. Down in the cellars the 90% humidity and constant 15 deg C temperature are perfect condition for the spiders that are part of the cycle of production. The cognac is matured in wooden barrels, the spiders eat the bugs in the wood and keep it clean. Cognac evaporates through the wood and causes a blackened fungus to form on the walls and ceiling called “the angels share”, the locals joke that the spiders are drunk in here! The room where Francis 1 was baptised as a baby, more than 500 years ago, is now the dry cellar room. There are sniff tables where you can really tell the difference between the different types of cognac In the dungeons are the oldest bottles of cognac dating back 200 years. It’s a totally fascinating visit only made better by the tasting at the end of the tour! Eating out in Cognac Locals love: Le Bistro de Claude. Fresh food and a tasty menu, great atmosphere and lots of cognac to choose from! Friendly staff, English spoken and full of locals who know a great restaurant when they see one… Wine and dine: Atelier des Quais. From the door just off the main bridge, you might not realise just how lovely this place is. If you enter the door from the quayside opposite the towers of the Chateau Royal, it’s obvious you’re somewhere special. Go for coffee, tapas, cocktails and for the fabulous lunch or dinner menu. The courtyard with its twinkling lights at night is truly lovely. Poulpette, in the Saint-Jacques district is a unique and lovely tiny restaurant with a nochoice menu. The chef cooks whatever is freshest and most appealing to him; it’s creative and authentic. Chez Aristide, in the pedestrian zone of Old Town, traditional, regional menu with a fresh twist. Casual and hip with a nice terrace.
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