Today we would savor the drinks of the French, wine and cognac. Although the day was just getting started and happy hour wasn’t until many hours, we quickly made our way towards the town where cognac seeps through the vineyards and the warehouses, Cognac, France. MoÃ«t Hennessey is one of the co-leaders of the famous luxury brand LVMH, which also includes Louis Vuitton. Hennessey is also the major supplier of cognac, distributing about 50 million bottles a year (40% of the world’s cognac). We entered the headquarters to Hennessey and went straight towards the place where they actually made the cognac. The warehouses were filled with the smell of the fermentation of grapes. Barrels of the fermenting grapes were stacked row by row. Some were even labeled with years ranging from 6 to even 20 years. The oldest barrels were stored behind lock and key. These barrels were holding the wine that was yet to be distilled into cognac. This wine must be distilled twice in traditional copper stills called an alembic. Distillation happens through a process of boiling liquid and letting it condense. This is then set to age for two years (minimum) until it is ready. The final product is usually distilled to 40% alcohol. Â We then continued to see how they put their own handmade barrels together. They use the finest wood and also age them until they are ready to be used as barrels. The barrels are fixed together with the help of some metal bands. This process requires no adhesive or glue whatsoever; it is simply tightly put together with the metal bands and wood to create a waterproof seal. We finished the tour off with a free tasting of Hennessey’s own cognac. Hurriedly, we bought our souvenirs and headed towards the bus to yet another place famous for its alcoholic beverages.
After many series of karaoke sessions we finally arrived in Bordeaux. Apparently Bordeaux had been part of a soccer match and won against their rivals, because when we got there we saw a crowd of people carrying a banner and marching through the streets. Nevertheless, the crowd of cheering people did give us some comedic relief and refreshing new scenery after a long drive from Cognac. After we managed to snail by the crowd and make our way through the streets of Bordeaux we arrived at the Maison du Vin. There we were able to have a little wine tasting before we went to visit the other attractions Bordeaux had. The variety of wine was practically infinite since we were able to taste from a whole wall of wine racks. The wines varied from the complex red wine to a more subtle white wine. The different wines exemplified the different regions Bordeaux had. We took a walking tour around Bordeaux with Joe leading the way. Our first spot was the St. Andreas cathedral. Consecrated in 1096 by Pope Urban II, the St. Andreas Cathedral is mostly made up of later constructed parts. The only original part of the church that stands today is its nave. The rest of the church was constructed during the 14th and 15th century. This cathedral is considered to be one of France’s national monuments. After that we went to visit the Hotel de Ville. No, not a hotel but actually a City Hall. In France the city hall is called the “Hotel de Ville.” Next we took a turn to our artistic side and visited the Musee des Beaux-Arts. Established in 1801, the museum is one of France’s largest art galleries. The collections of paintings in the museum mostly range from French and Dutch paintings. Our walking trip concluded the day of tasting the drinks of the French. Though the long walking trip did help some of us get to sleep, it was definitely the drinks that left everyone a little woozy and tired. Whatever the reason we all slept soundly, so see you next time where we will continue our travels to Lourdes.