Brandy: The “Ghost Writer” of Great Success Stories
Originally, it was the grape.
A small grain, in a cluster. A wonder of nature. For millennia, people have recognized in the grape the richest raw material. If transforming nature into culture characterizes a civilization, then undoubtedly, the grape is the most civilized raw material in the world.
Because the grape is part of all great civilizational epics.
And Bordeaux is one of its most prestigious terroirs of choice. In Groupe Bernard , value has revolved around grapes for nearly a century. Not just wine but also spirits. In its distilled form, wine is called brandy. And this brandy—Lucien Bernard & Cie’s expertise—deserves attention for a simple reason: nothing in the world equals distilled wine in terms of organoleptic richness, aroma diversity, taste pleasure, varieties, and innovation.
At a time when a shift is occurring among consumers, with more and more enthusiasts of quality spirits, brandy deserves more attention than ever from creators.
Brandy: A Legendary Spirit
Worldwide, brandy is a dominant category of spirits. With a wide variety of products and specific brands, such as Cognac or Armagnac in France. But is the public aware, especially those who often wonder about the difference between brandy vs. Cognac, that Cognac is just one brandy among many others?
For a spirits professional, brandy is distilled wine. For the public, this definition is less obvious, as over time and across countries, the term "brandy" has become a generic term covering spirits distilled from fruit in general, not just grapes.
Yet, historically and qualitatively, genuine brandy is only made from wine. The International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) defines it as follows: "A spirit drink obtained exclusively by distilling wine, fortified wine, optionally with the addition of wine distillate, or by redistillation of a wine distillate, retaining the taste and aroma of the raw materials mentioned. A certain period of aging in oak containers is mandatory. The alcoholic strength by volume (TAV) of the finished product, expressed as a percentage of the volume, must not be less than 36%."
To make the category more understandable to the public, we refer to it as "pure grape brandy."
A few other fundamental notions to fully understand brandy: Be aware that it is not geographically limited. Moreover, almost all wine regions in the world produce brandy. Also, remember that red or white grape varieties can be used to produce brandy, although distillers usually prefer white grape varieties, which are less aromatic and have higher acidity.
Understanding the History of Brandy
The origin of brandy dates back to the 14th century. Its name, derived from the Dutch word "brandewijn," literally means "burnt wine." It is a distilled wine.
Brandy developed rapidly in France. At that time, the harvest, difficult to predict, generated surpluses in certain years that were difficult to store. How to avoid these sometimes-heavy losses in wine production? The solution appeared with the idea of using the still to distill wine, preserving excess production. This invention had existed since antiquity but had been applied primarily to pharmacopoeia and perfumery. The use of this distillation of surplus wine production spread to the French wine regions. Simultaneously, the development of the international market enabled these wine spirits to experience significant growth, particularly in the Netherlands and England, under the name "French Brandy." Then the production of brandy became international. For a long time, brandies produced in France carried the label "Napoleon" to identify French craftsmanship, a guarantee of quality recognized by international consumers.
Brandy : the "next big thing"
Today, the growing consumer appetite for premium-quality spirits and the emergence of new markets with high development potential make brandy more than ever a melting pot of creativity for brands. Brandy ticks all the boxes for writing the success stories of tomorrow.
It is evident that in the coming decade, major international brandy brands will emerge and supplant the regional brands that still dominate the market.
The right recipe, perfect quality, quantity availability, ideal aging—it's up to creators to find the winning formula. Of course, talent will express itself, and marketing will also play a role in attracting new generations of consumers. Regarding the product itself and all the specific services associated with it, brands know that they can rely in Bordeaux on a historical, discreet, expert, and experienced partner. A "ghostwriter" to craft the most beautiful story from the best raw material.