No, I'm not actually proposing that as a cocktail, although a classic champagne cocktail from Martha Stewart contains just that, along with bitters and a sugar cube. No, that's not for me. I already get glares and eye-rolling from some French friends because I like ice cubes in my champagne. One friend from Reims, the homeland of bubbly, treats it as blasphemy. But I digress.
My topic today is actually cognac and the region, because in our upcoming release, the Winemaker Detective goes to Jarnac, an haut lieu of cognac production. I mention champagne only because the region of Cognac is divided into six zones—Grande Champagne, Petite Champagne, Borderies, Fins Bois, Bons Bois and Bois ordinaires. A cognac blend made of Grande Champagne cognac and Petite Champagne cognac makes a Fine Champagne cognac. Of course, the drink cognac, as Grande, Petite or Fine a Champagne it may be, has nothing in common with the sparkling wine. Cognac is a brandy, distilled from wines made from specific grapes grown in specific areas of (primarily) the Charente and Charente-Maritime region of France. It goes through two distillations, in an alambic, and is aged in oak. Now you know.
In Cognac Conspiracies, the Chinese are trying to buy out one of France's oldest family-run cognac estates. Benjamin Cooker is called in to audit the books, and of course the waters are murkier than one first imagines. In this story, the characters find their loyalties being tested in an eerie small-town setting. In their usual fashion, the authors take us on an Epicurean adventure of discovery.
Jean-Pierre tells me that he has a special soft spot for both cognac and armagnac, both of which he usually enjoys with a cigar. As for cognac, he particularly enjoys those made by Delamain.
The official release date for Cognac Conspiracies is February 18. You can preorder it now on your favorite platform or at your favorite bookstore.