So the news that Guilhem Grosperrin has just moved his house – La Gabare – to a new site in the town of Saintes is wonderful news, although some might wonder why he has chosen this site instead of one closer to the hub of Cognac itself.
Guilhem’s reasoning for this is down to a couple of facts. One is that he’s lived in Saintes for ten years and the other that he feels that the “elite of the Cognaçaise” is not solely restricted to the town of Cognac itself.
He also fell in love with the place – and when he had the chance to take over the former cellars of Martineau he jumped at the chance, even though they had been abandoned for several years.
So, thanks to Guilhem Grosperrin and the injection of a 1.2 million euro cash investment, the town of Saintes will now play host to a cognac house some 20 years after the large house of Rouyer-Guillet Cognac sold out to Guyenne.
However, the original premises of Cognac La Gabare in Chermignac will not fall into disuse. Guilhem says that for reasons of security they can only store 500 hectolitres at the new premises.
Over the past eight years the house has moved from employing two people to now employing eight. And the public are welcome to visit the new premises in Saintes, where Mr Grosperrin says they’ll be greeted by a collection whose footprint is that of old cognac.
This is one reason why he has also taken the move to resurrect the old brand of Mestreau Cognac. When he was approached by a broker in 2010 with the opportunity to purchase 250 bottles of early 19th century cognacs from the personal collection of Abel Mestreau, how could he refuse? And with permission he now sells old cognacs under the brand of Frédéric Mestreau – a house founded in 1808 but that fell by the wayside in 1919.
So, thanks to the entrepreneurial attitude of Guilhem, not only will the town of Saintes once again enjoy the wonderful aroma of the cognac industry, but old and traditional cognacs of years gone by are once again available for us all to taste.