Vineyard acreage: 56 acres (23 hectares)
Grape variety: Ugni blanc
Annual sales cognac: 3 000 bottles

 

The Painturaud family has farmed the land around their property in Segonzac since the late 1800s. As the years have gone by one vineyard has been added to the other and the family’s property now covers 56 acres. The majority of vineyards are located on the desirable hills – les coteaux.

P32The family is a loyal, long-time supplier to Rémy Martin who still buys most of the eaux-de-vie the family produces. It was the second generation Painturaud, Jacques-Guy, who as early as 1934 decided to start selling a part of his production under his own name. The family was among the very first to market Pineau des Charentes, the cognac-based aperitif which is so popular in France and Belgium. The pineaus still account for the major part of the family’s sales. Jacques-Guy’s son Jacques worked for a long time alongside his father until the father’s death in 1988 when he and his wife Jeanine took over the torch.

Today it is the fourth generation Painturaud who runs the business. Jacques and Jeanine have four sons who all at some point in their lives have been active in the family firm. At present it is the eldest and the youngest brother who share responsibility. Jean-Philippe began back in 1992 while the youngest of the brothers, Emmanuel, did not devote himself entirely to the firm until 2010, the year his parents announced their wish to enjoy a well-deserved retirement.

P33At Painturaud every step of the production is carried out in a traditional fashion. Jean-Philippe is responsible for viticulture, vinification and distillation while Emmanuel takes care of the rest: ageing, blending, bottling, marketing, sales and customer contacts. Up till now the family has sold its pineaus and its cognacs to restaurants and retailers in France, but Emmanuel actively works to broaden their customer base which also includes an interest in exports.

J. Painturaud is too small a company to own a reaping-machine, so the family participate in a cooperative system (CUMA) in which small growers share a number of machines à vendenger. A machine can harvest 14–20 acres per day so normally it takes no more than three to four days to harvest the 56 acres. Then follows the processes of vinification and distillation. Jean-Philippe spends about three hours a day at the still during the distillation period, a great improvement compared with the old days when the stills were heated with coal and firewood and distillation meant hard work 24/7.

Times are good for the Painturaud family at present but this has not always been the case. Only a few years ago, during the decade between 1993 and 2004, after the Asian market had collapsed, business was really bad. These were really black years, crisis years, as purchasing volumes from the big houses were cut down and prices fell. Emmanuel also remembers that they were difficult year weatherwise with long periods of unpredictable weather with times of both frost and hail.

– Everyone benefits from the present good times for cognac, says Emmanuel. Sure, the big houses earn the most, but the current prosperity spill over to us small growers as well. We get better prices from the cognac houses, which means we can believe in the future and invest.

Painturaud may be a small producer but the range is as extensive as that of a medium-sized house. The youngest cognac is a 5-year-old VSOP called Duo, a cognac with dual use, either as an aperitif, mixed with Schweppes or sur glace, or as a classic digestif after dinner. The next quality steps follow regular ageing intervals: Réserve 10 years, Vieille Réserve 20 years, XO 25 years, Hors d’Age 35 years.

This is an abridged version of a translation into English of pages 102–103 of the Swedish book Cognac – kungen av eau-de-vier (Cognac – the king of eaux-de-vie) © Stevali Production and Gunnar Svedberg, 2014.
© Gunnar Svedberg 2015-02-03

 

 

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