France: Day 1 - Chateau de Bagnolet
North from the city of Cognac, along the bank of La Charente, sits Chateau de Bagnolet: the house of Hennessy. Originally built in 1810, the ancient estate today serves as a guesthouse and hosting area for guests of the Cognac giant. We left Edinburgh this morning, did a layover in Amsterdam, then landed in Bordeaux around 4 PM. We then quickly rented a car, drove the hour and a half north to Cognac, and pulled into Bagnolet just before dinner time. Hennessy VS and ginger beer cocktails were promptly served. I stood on the balcony and stared off towards the river. Maurice Hennessy was due to arrive at 8 PM for dinner. We had a lot to talk about.
We dined over Pouilly-Fuisse and fish, followed by dessert paired with Hennessy XO. After the meal, we ajourned in the parlor to discuss business and share stories from the current state of the industry. Now I'm here with Charles Neal, my old pal Lester, and we're getting ready to drink Cognac late into the evening.
You might be thinking at this point: David, only three days in Scotland? Is that really enough? Yes, my friends, three days is sufficient for what we need to do. At this stage in the game, the belts have been tightened and the supplies slowly rationed. It's not easy right now. We've only got four solid mainstay partners for single cask imports at this point, and we can knock out those appointments in three focused, hard-fought days. France, on the other hand, is limitless. We still are just scratching the surface with our brandy department and I want to spend a serious amount of time expanding on the work we've already done. That's why I'll be in France for the next eleven days: to start getting very, very serious about Cognac and Armagnac.
Get ready for a serious set of French-inspired blog posts. But first, a bit of fun.