Friday, 20 May 2016

A visit to maison Tesseron cognac producers , with grateful thanks to Frėdėric.

Tesseron Cognac was founded in 1905 by Abel Tesseron, at that time already a collector of the finest cognacs. The business is  owned and managed today by the fourth generation of the family. While on holiday in the Aveyron, we had the fortune to meet the  charming Frėdėric and his family and he most kindly extended an invitation for us to take a tour of this exclusive cognac house....... 
Any technical or other errors in the information below are entirely mine, made as I strove to comprehend the processes, facts and figures involved in the production of cognac at maison Tesseron!

The understated but imposing gateway to the premises in Chateauneuf-sur-Charente.

The brass nameplate, polished daily! The company owns 37 hectares of vineyards in the Grande Champagne (considered the best area) near Cognac to provide the supply of grapes for their cognac production.Three grape varieties are grown for the properties they show in the finished cognac. Ugni blanc for roundness, Folle Blanche  for finesse and Colombard for power and depth! It's a very complicated subject and a skilled enterprise!

The distillery  with its double row (this is one row) of copper stills and interconnecting pipework.

Behind the brick facings are the natural gas burners which heat the fermented wine. Everywhere is spotlessly clean!

A pictorial diagram of the distillation process.

The outside of the walls of the storage cellars are covered with a tiny black fungus, which thrives in the slightly alcoholic fume-laden air. The black colour seems to bring the rough stonework into sharper relief.

The middle third (called eau de vie) of the distillate  is put into  small new oak barrels (as in the foreground), then later transferred into large oak vats (below) to mix the product and balance out any differences in character of the  eau de vie which there might be in the individual barrels. The first and last thirds are re-distilled and used in the blending process.

The cellar master knows the character of the contents of each barrel like his own children! Mixing and blending the eau de vie is a very special competence and  Tesseron cognac possesses a rare complexity due to the subtle proportioning of the three grape varieties it uses.

Long term storage (10 -15 years) for the developing eau de vie. Some is lost to evaporation, this loss being called "la part des anges" - the angels' share!

The cognac is eventually transferred from oak barrels to glass demi-johns when it ceases to mature any further.The cognac can take up to 90 years to reach this point!

Long, long maturation in quiet cellars!

In a cellar called Paradis, shelves of ancient demi-johns of cognac, some dating from the 19th century, are stored. This cellar was originally  a church built by monks in the 11th century.

A portrait of the founder, Abel Tesseron, hanging in the entrance hallway.

From the left, Lot 90 XO Ovation (just seen), aged in oak barrels for about 12 years, rich and complex, Lot 76 XO Tradition, aged in oak barrels for "more than a generation" Lot 53 XO Perfection,aged in oak barrels for "more than two generations". This cognac was given full marks (100/100) by Robert Parker, the well-reputed American wine writer and on the far right, Lot 29 XO Exception. aged in oak barrels for "more than three generations" -that's 75 years, folks!! It must be brilliant! Behind, on the shelves, are  reference samples of previous cognac vintages.

More varieties! From the left, XO Passion, more than 12 years old and a blend of 30 eaux de vies; Extra Legende, aged for "more than a generation" and a blend of about 50 eaux de vies and finally Tresor, aged for "more than two generations" and a blend of about 100 eaux de vies. I said it was complicated!

Royal Blend is a selection of 50 Grande Champagne cognacs, chosen from Tesseron's own private historic collection.The cognac ages for many years in oak "tierçons", very special barrels used for only the rarest cognacs. This cognac is the result of work by two generations of the Tesseron family, is bottled in hand-blown glass demi-johns of 0.7 litres, which you can just see on the left above.

 
Extreme, the flagship of this cognac house, is incredibly rare and valuable, production of the 1.75 litre bottles being measured in the low hundreds of bottles each year! If you are interested in finding out more about the very special Tesseron range, you can visit their website http://www.tesseroncognac.com

So, Frėdėric, our visit to maison Tesseron was the most rare and valuable privilege for us and a memory we will always treasure! By assiduous production of the very best cognac and storing the most ancient of them for careful use in blends, Maison Tesseron are investing in the future, in supreme quality, and in their business  for their Clients' benefit.  (My words and my opinion, nothing is intended to be advertising for our hosts!)




Also see my daily diary HERE

and My Life Before Charente (updated 09 April 2016) 


32 comments:

  1. What an awesome experience Di ..... complex yes but fascinating! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Paxie, it was an amazing experience. So may years goes into that one bottle of Cognac!!! Glad you enjoyed it Diane

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  2. Such a fascinating post! Thank you so much for sharing.

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    1. You are right Linda the whole process was fascinating, it was a pleasure to share. Take care Diane

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  3. What a super opportunity! You just never know whom you will meet!

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    1. As you say you just never know who you might meet. Such a wonderful day and hopefully we have a friend through it as well. A lovely family. Hope you are both well Diane

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  4. It was interesting to read about your visit, Diane, and nice to see history carrying on. We are in Armagnac country, but have not visited any distilleries, nor are likely to because unfortunately Lester's stomach has become very sensitive to alcohol, and I just fall asleep if I even have a whiff of it!

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    1. Vera I am not that fond of Armagnac though Nigel likes it. Even if you can't drink it though it is an interesting process and well worth a visit. Keep well and have a good weekend. Diane

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  5. Thank you for telling us about your amazing visit when we saw you on Wednesday and it's lovely to see the photos that go along with that visit. A fantastic experience to savour, literally x

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    1. It was a great experience Kerry and one we will remember for a long time. It was good to meet up with you again, next time we must not leave it so long! Have a good weekend Diane xx

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  6. Hi Diane - what a fascinating read - so informative. How very fortunate you were to meet Frederic and be asked to visit/tour the factory. I'd no idea about all the blends and length that brandy can gently mature ... Passion for the Tesseron Cognac shines through. Excellently written up and wonderful photos ... cheers Hilary

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    1. Hello Hilary, glad that sou enjoyed this post. Oh yes meeting Frėdėric was very fortunate. It is amazing how the blending and process takes so long before we get to savour it on our palate! Thanks for the kind comment, hope you are well Diane

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  7. This reminds us that we need to replace the bottle we bought home with us Diane. Building starts early next month and we hope to be in before Xmas. Watch this space.

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    1. Gosh bet you will be happy to see your new house going up and it will be good to move in and get things sorted out the way you like. You will need some cognac and a bottle of good French champagne to celebrate with :-) Take care Diane

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  8. What a really cool place to visit! I have never had any cognac in my life lol.

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    1. Rose you do not know what you are missing :-) We love a little cognac after a good meal. Hope all is well in your world. Diane

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  9. Goodness how lucky you were to have this guided tour of the cognac house Diane and merci beaucoup for sharing through your gorgeous images here..
    P.s. some of my fondest memories also are of going to the drive-in when we were youngsters in Rhodesia and Zambia.. loved getting all cosy in pygamas etc :)

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    1. Grace it was truly a great tour and we enjoyed it so much.
      Yes the drive-in was great fun, the kids of today do not know what they missed out on. Such a shame they have all closed down now. Take care Diane

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  10. I hope you got to taste a bit. :)
    What a fascinating visit.

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    1. Ha ha Sarah no problem with the tasting, it was excellent. It was a fascinating visit, we learnt so much. Hope all is well Diane

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  11. Lucky you, Diane! That sounds like a great little tour with lots of interesting information. I've been to a lot of distilleries and breweries, but never cognac. They're always spotless inside, but that's unique with the fungus on the outside. Bet the cognac is delicious!

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    1. Pam we have been to two other Cognac places and enjoyed them, but this was very personal and very special. Certainly topped the list for us both with viewing and tasting. Take care Diane

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  12. what lovely place to visit Diane !!

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    1. Thanks Gloria it was an amazing place and we so enjoyed the trip. Hope all is well Diae

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  13. Encore une bien belle balade. On te suit toujours avec plaisir.
    A bientôt

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  14. How kind of Frėdėric to share this wonderful tour…I enjoyed it through your eyes.

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    1. Sorry you did not enjoy the tasting as well :-) Diane

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  15. That's a wonderful account, Diane, of a fascinating place and, as always from you, superbly illustrated. I've never met Tesseron cognac before and suspect that it has a price that means I never will meet it! I hope the strike doesn't mess up your plans, and you have a wonderful time - - - Richard

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    1. Richard the first 4 are a reasonable price, the next three are a bit more expensive, the last two would be beyond the reach of our pocket but wow they were good ;-) Take care Diane

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  16. Diane, I don't know if you will check this comment, but I want you to know that I am off Facebook. I might be back after the elections. I just couldn't take all the bickering and nasty comments. Hope you had a wonderful time in the US. I personally love living in California.

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    1. Thanks Nadege for letting me know. We had a great holiday in Dallas, Mesquite and the Canyon area thanks to our wonderful friends and blogger followers. The East coast though we were not so happy with. Roads to busy and too many people, we do not like crowds! I just delete anything to do with elections as it does not belong on my site, to me it is a private thing. Hope you will be back soon Diane x

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