History of cognac
Everything began at I age A.D. when on the modern territory of France the grapes was delivered by the Romans. The Saintonge vineyards appeared during the governing of the Roman emperor Probus that extended the privileges and rights on possession of vineyards and making cognacs for all Gauls. At first vine was cultivated on Rhone’s plain, and to IV A.D. it was spread through all France.
In XII A.D. from the resolution of William X, Duke of Guyenne, the huge territory wine production, known as Vignoble de Poitou, was opened. Wines made in Vignoble de Poitou, were highly appreciated in the countries of Northern Sea. Transportation was made by Dutch ships, which bought salt in Poitou.
In XVI A.D. France turned into the main producer and exporter of wines in Europe. The Dutch ships floated to Cognac area to buy well-known wines from areas Champagne and Borderies. The vineyards Aunis produced such huge quantity of wine that it became difficult to transport, because these low alcoholic wines were exhaled during long ocean carriages. Transportation of wine to warm countries turned to be not so profitable as the wine spoilt and became rotten after a long-distance carriage. So French wine-producers decided to apply the process of distillation that was used rarely at that time. They thought, that if the consumer poured water to distillate, he would receive wine again. However, wine-producers liked this cognac spirits or distillate, which they mixed with water and this drink was called brandjiwin or "burnt wine".
It is difficult to say, how cognac appeared. There is a legend, according to which Chevalier de la Croix leaved military service and started to distillate wine. He dreamed that the Devil came to take away his soul, and threw him into boiled water, but nothing happened, and threw him again. Woken up, Chevalier decided to apply the process of double boiling during cognac production. The second boiling should improve the wine quality after the first boiling. Then Chevalier took two casks with received drink and went to Renorville monks. The content of the first was drunk out at once, and the second barrel was locked in a cellar for celebration any other event. This event took place only fifteen years later, when the monks visited Chevalier. To their surprise the barrel wasn’t full, the evaporation had made its affair, the drink gained new taste, more bright and mature. So that was the birth of cognac.
To XVII A.D. the market became steadier, first cognac houses were created, some of which still exist. They collected cognac and linked with the buyers from Holland, England and Northern Europe, later extending to America and Far East.
More and more cognac trade houses were opened, and in the middle of XIX A.D. they began to carry cognac in bottles, instead of casks. This new trade gave rise to such industries as glassmaking, production of corks and packaging, printing. By that time vineyards took almost 280 thousand hectares. In 1875 the Phylloxera virus appeared in Charente, and destroyed vineyards up to 40 thousand hectares by 1893.
During the first quarter of XX A.D. the vineyards were reduced, using American investments, however they have not achieved the previous output level. The careful attitude improved considerably the harvest; the decrees were published, which regulated each stage of cognac production. These decrees control the process of cognac production, which now becomes a very valuable and popular drink.