Everything is quiet in the market and in the neighbourhood (in 1890)


Cognac has been Cognac (you know what I mean) for about five centuries. Now that the mirage of the Chinese Eldorado appears to be fading in the distance, it is a sensible moment to look back to history and remember. I picked up a little jewel of the Revue des vins et liqueurs of January 1890, when the Cognac region was just getting out of the worst crisis ever, the phyloxera plague that had obliterated most of the vineyards. The Cognaçais were courageously reconstructing their life, re-planting with American vines… This was what they wrote 123 years ago.

At present, the surface of ground planted with vines in the two Charentes reaches:

  1889 1888
Charente 57.292 acres 64.262 acres
Charente-Inférieure  94.002 acres 99.212 acres
  151,294 acres 162.474 acres

 According to these figures, there was again in 1889 a decrease of 12,180 acres. But this decrease is of no importance.
The wines were dead long ago. They have been pulled up, and other native or American vities planted in their stead. According to other data of local origin the two Charentes would appear to have.

Charente 69.110 acres
Charente-Inferieure 97.257 acres
Total 166.367 acres


This represents an increase of 3.985 acres in Charente, and 5,992 acres in Charente-Inferieure.

The area of the vineyards has then oeased to decrease, and is increasing even in Charente, the country of the great growths, which has now got more vines than it had four years ago.
As to the produce of the two departements, we have got the following figures:

  1879/88 1888 1889
Charente 310.662 118.409 104.819
Charente-Inferieure 1.137.999 495.269 404.505
  1 448.661 613.698 509.333

Without attaching any great value to the above estimates, they show us that production is on the rise in Charente, which grew only 70,769 hectolitres in 1887.

Production then has ceased to fall. It is rising even, though only slowly as yet. But as the methodical reconstitution of the vineyards, under the impulsion ot the Cognac Viticultural Committee, only began two years ago, we cannot expect any great results before 1892, when the crop may show the progress made.

The reconstitution of the Charente vineyards is now a sure thing, and that of the champagne vineyards is very probable. These are facts, which need not he celebrated with transports of delight.

Commercially the year 1890 opened with a fall in white wines. The large firms having got what they wanted, professional distillers and second class houses are masters of the market, and they bought but little of the boiler wines, which were offered them even at 75 to 80 francs the cask.

Good brandies of 1889 were in demand at 250 to 260 francs.

The weather was very fine, and very much in favour of vine-planting.

The second week in January, the influenza made its appearance, aud it greatly hindered the delivery and dispatch of goods.

The Indicateur makes the remark that the prices of the pure old brandies sold in London are equal to those of the second and third rate growths in Charente.

During the third week m January, the price of white wine went down still further. Distillers were offering no more them 60 to 65 francs. It must also be remarked that this fall in prices coïncides, with the lower quality of the vines remaining unsold The best wines were sold long since at 100 and 110 francs the cask, but they were the best growths, and much more rich in alcohol.

On the whole, everything is quiet in the market and in the neighbourhood.