At first glance, visitors are often surprised by the black walls and roofs in cognac landscape. Far from being a sign of dirt or neglect, this colour means wealth : cognac sleeps inside. Nearby vineyards, and well protected, some green oaks, hazelnuts or linden trees, grow in the utmost secrecy. On winter time, men and dogs roam theses places to harvest a precious black mushroom : the truffle. Both sides, it’s telling time, patience and skill.Greedy angels
After the distillation, the eau-de-vie, begins its long ageing period in oak casks, carefully stored in the darkness and humidity of the cellars. The natural porosity of the wood, allow exchanges between air and eau-de-vie. A natural process which gives progressively to cognac, its unique flavor, amber color and bouquet. The evaporation is called “la part des anges” the share of the angels. We used to say that angels are a bit greedy : they “drunk” the equivalent of 20 millions of bottles per year. This evaporation feed a very small fungus called torula compnaciencis, covering walls and roofs of the cellars. So, the black walls protect a treasure slowly ageing out of sight.
The black truffle
The truffle, appreciated by the gourmets, likes the chalky clay soil of cognac, close to Atlantic ocean, since several centuries. King of France François 1er, born in Cognac, would be the one who instigated to the developpement of the culture here. After the phylloxera disaster at the end of 19 century, winegrowers who lost all their vineyards, planted trees devoted to truffles. Nowadays, 700 ha are hidden in cognac region. The tuber melanosporum is harvested between december and march. The business of gathering and selling the truffles is still surrounded by tradition and some mystery…
Man & dog searching for truffle – demo organized by the Charente “syndicat des trufficulteurs”
At the season time, we will go to a particular place : the truffle market of Jarnac. The sales start at 9:30 am at the sound of the horn.
May be the poetic story of “la part des anges” could inspire Pierre Soulages, one of the most renowned french contemporaty artist in the world. Master of the black and one of the leading figure of abstract art, he is present in some 90 museums, has created more than 1,500 works of art and held countless exhibitions around the globe.