30 March 2009

Food & Drink: Cognac, Eau de Vie

By Jennifer Linforth

As many bloggers know I cannot edit without vast amounts of strawberry Quik in my system. When I knuckle down and write, however, my heart belongs to my amber love... cognac.

If you can imagine a brandy so exquisite it demanded its own name--then you have sipped cognac. Crafted in the Cognac region of France, its history is as rich as its bouquet. Courvoisier is the imperial crown of cognacs, created by Emmanuel Courvoisier and Louis Gallois. After Napoleon Bonaparte visited their facility in 1811 and he rewarded his troops with this eau de vie a new era in cognac was born. Proclaimed by British soldiers as the Cognac of Napoleon after a legend that had him shipping several hundreds of bottles of Courvoisier to himself after the 1815 defeat at Waterloo; it is still referred to as such today.

Chateau de Jarnac is home to the Courvoisier legacy nestled deep in the Cognac region of France. Recognized as the finest cognac in the world, Chateau de Jarnac now was tasked with the title of "Official Supplier to the Imperial Court" by the order of Napoleon's nephew, Napoleon III. This locked in Courvoisier's position as the superior cognac in the world and spread to become the choice of royal courts across Europe.

Cognac is a brandy, but not all brandy is cognac. French law has strict regulations on its darling creation. It must be produced entirely in the cognac region and adhere distillation and aging requirements. The Simon family took over the reins of Courvoisier in 1909 and crafted the classic logo of Napoleon's silhouette which adorns every bottle to this day.