By Jürgen Deibel
December 7th – Anyone talking about brandy should choose their words carefully because when it comes to wine-based spirits, every little detail has its own specific meaning. This may be because people have been making brandies for a good 1000 years. Brandies can probably even take credit for being the first of all spirits. Brandy basically forms the starting point of the cultural history of high-proof spirits thereby connecting countries and traditions, tastes and eras.
Brandy, a drink steeped in tradition, is currently experiencing a remarkable renaissance. The focus on the origins of the grape, the use of must, wine or grape marc allows a unique diversity in all parts of the world. The European family of brandy is big and includes the major wine nations on this continent. This spirit made of wine calls Greece and Spain, Italy and France, as well as Portugal and Germany, its home. The names of the family members have a sound and reputation in the delightful world of spirits: Cognac and Armagnac, Brandy, Grappa and Weinbrand.
ProWein 2024 will offer an excellent overview of this glamorous world of brandies with the trend show “same but different” in Hall 7 and the new brand world “ProSpirits” in Hall 5. This makes ProWein (March 10 – 12, 2024 in Düsseldorf, Germany) the world’s largest and most relevant trade fair for wines and spirits. About 500 of the more than 5,700 exhibitors from all over the world will showcase their spirits ranges – including almost 100 brandy suppliers. A renaissance and new developments can today be seen in every area of the brandy world. Young, innovative companies as well as long-established brands are delighting visitors with creative ideas and new approaches.
Anything goes: new aromas in cognac
In the cognac segment, producers will surprise with matured distillates in various cask types and previous uses (according to the regulations) such as Mizunara oak (Cognac Park, Hall 5, B16), Tokaj casks (Cognac Ferrand, Hall 5, B17) or American oak casks (Cognac Bache-Gabrielsen, Hall 5, K18 In doing so, they are picking up on a trend that has long been present in other spirits categories and which should open up new customer groups for the cognac category. This maturing is (still) restricted by legal regulations, which only permit cognac maturing and/or finishing in oak casks, which previously contained wine or wine-containing brandy. Also permitted are all cognacs finished in sherry, port wine and other wine casks. In addition, more and more Cognac brands are being bottled at cask strength. With their interesting taste they contribute to extending this classic category.
Armagnac: from Blanches to Millesimes
Armagnac, a long-forgotten category, is currently experiencing a delicate new revival. The focus is not on the well-known millesimes (vintages), but on the use of Armagnac in cocktails and long drinks. Interesting representatives include SAS Holding Tariquet Domaine Tariquet in Hall 9, E66 and Armagnac Castarède SAS in Hall 5, M34. Thanks to Blanche Armagnac, there are also unmatured distillates available as a basis for cocktails. These embody the pure and fresh taste of the grape. The Armagnacs of the VS, VSOP and XO categories are also equally predestined for mixology uses and pure consumption. Armagnac thus expands the spectrum from the strongly emotional world of vintages to pure, diverse enjoyment.
The Spanish Brandy de Jerez – like many other brandy categories – also thrives on pure enjoyment. However, producers have now recognized that mixing with the fine brandies from the south of Spain is also a real treat. More and more of them are showing what cocktails and long drinks are now possible with brandies from Andalucia. At the same time, exhibitors such as the Osborne Group (Hall 5, D02) will continue to present the individuality of the different qualities with distillates matured in special Sherry Soleras (Amontillado or Pedro Ximénez) casks.
Grappa – grape marc spirits and finishes
Grape marc spirits, above all Grappa from Italy, are finding their way back into the consciousness of consumers and connoisseurs. Here, too, the enhancement of taste in the form of finishes will expand the character and the possibilities to enjoy classic grape mark spirits. Marzadro (Hall 15, E57) will show just what is possible with grappas finished in port wine casks as will Distilleria Bocchino (Hall 5, B35) with grappas finished in Sauternes casks. Other grappa producers from Switzerland and Italy can be found in Halls 5 and 7 as well as in Halls 15 and 16.
Non-alcoholic wine provides base product for brandy
The process of dealcoholizing wine provides another interesting base product for brandy production: the remaining distillate of non-alcoholic wines. The distillates produced under vacuum are expressive and highly aromatic – a perfect raw material for brandy production. Storage in a cask turns this into delicious brandy as impressively demonstrated by the new product from Kammer-Kirsch (Hall 5, M45).
All of this proves that brandy is trending again and capable of inspiring connoisseurs young and old. At ProWein 2024 and its Trend Show “same but different“ (Hall 7) and the new brand world “ProSpirits” in Hall 5, these developments will be impressively showcased. Classic-traditional and new, innovative brands will showcase the current diversity of brandy. From classics such as Cognac and Armagnac from France, Brandy de Jerez from Spain, Grappa from Italy or the new brandies from Germany, many other exotic brands will show what the traditional and contemporary world of brandies is all about. A huge variety, to be rediscovered in Halls 5 and 7!
Other spirits trends at ProWein 2024:
- Vodka – The Resurrection of Vodka – This Time with Character!
- Liqueurs – Getting Sweet(er)
- Agave Spirits – The World of Agave – from Mezcal to Tequila
- RTD – Ready to Drink
For current information about ProWein 2024 as well as press photos (Media & News section): www.prowein.com