Vineyard acreage: 61 acres (25 hectares)
Grape variety: Ugni blanc (and some Folignan)
Annual sales cognac: 60 000 bottles


The Estate La Pouyade sits on a hill with stunning views of the surrounding vineyards. The cognac house was founded in 1880 by Honoré Fillioux, but is since long named after his son Jean (1885–1967). The house is a genuine family business and is at present run by the fourth and fifth generation Fillioux: Pascal, his wife Monique and their son Christophe. The family controls the entire production chain, from grape to cognac, even if cousins in Angeac-Champagne nowadays carry out the distillation. The family cellars hold large stocks of old cognac and the product range is characterized by a high quality throughout.

P34The family’s vineyards are almost exclusively planted with Ugni blanc, but they have recently also started growing some Folignan. They strive to harvest when they can produce a wine with high acidity which by volume reaches between 9 and 10.5 per cent. Years with absolutely perfect growing conditions are unusual, says Pascal, but they do occur once in a while during a lifetime.

The Fillioux family in the office in La Pouyade. From the left: Christophe, Pascal and Monique.
Running a cognac company involves many long days. No easy job, for sure.

Pascal thinks the ageing, the maturing, is a crucial part in the production of quality cognac, although no stage of production is unimportant. Any fault or flaw will stay on during the entire production process. It is impossible to entirely get rid of them and it is something you will have to live with. Pascal prefers oak of the Limousin-type in his casks. The rough-fibre oak releases its tannins in a better way, which contributes to a broader range of aromas, he says.

Pascal and Christophe are passionate advocates of the art of blending. Cognac should be blended in order to achieve optimum quality, they believe. Here is an important difference between brandy and whisky. Each assemblage is a design that reflects the talent of its creator, le Maître de Chai. He or she has access to a palette of different aromas in their cellars, just as a painter has his colours, and the trick is to create a blend that is harmonious and enjoyable from the first drop. Only in exceptional circumstances a cognac millésime will become interesting enough to be worth bottling. But sometimes these little miracles occur and the house is currently selling a millésime from 1953 and one from 1992.

P35Pascal personally prefers cognacs that are not exclusively aged in humid cellars. The vanilla flavour easily takes the upper hand and dominates over other, finer aromas. On the other hand, ageing only in dry cellars is not good either. This gives harsh and uninteresting eaux-de-vie, he thinks. Dry cellars create a loss of volume in the casks. For humid cellars the effect is the opposite: the casks lose a small amount in volume, but more in alcohol content. Pascal thinks his own cellars have just the right levels of humidity.

The work to develop different blends is a collaboration between father and son. Both think this works well and for the most part they agree. Each of the Fillioux cognacs has its own unique design, but a good balance between almond and vanilla can be said to form the base. In the superstructure for the young cognacs you can trace aromas like spring flowers, fresh or ripe fruits and mild spices. The older cognacs taste of dried or candied fruits and have a more distinct spiciness.

P36To be a small family house, Cognac Jean Fillioux has an unusually large range of products. 85 per cent of the production is exported, primarily to Norway and Eastern Europe. The family sells virtually nothing to the major cognac houses, just enough to cover the cost of distillation at their cousins.

Jean Fillioux produces gourmet cognacs for the real connoisseur. The wide range of cognacs is impressive and so is the consistent high quality. Does Jean Fillioux belong to the top 10 of all cognac houses? Yes, absolutely! At least to me.

Father and son, Pascal and Christophe Fillioux. Fourth and fifth generation cognac producers 

at La Pouyade, the family property at Juillac-le-Coq in the heart of Grande Champagne.

This is an abridged version of a translation into English of pages 104–105 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 2015-02-02