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ProWein 2024: Brandy – the grape renaissance

Current spirit trends at ProWein 2024

By Jürgen Deibel
When talking about brandy people should choose their words carefully because whenever wine-based spirits are involved every little detail has its own specific meaning. This may be because man has 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 epochs.

Brandy, a tradition-rich beverage, is currently experiencing a remarkable renaissance. This focus on the origins of the grape, the use of must, wine or grape marc makes for unique diversity seen 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. And the names of the family members in the delightful world of spirits also have a resounding ring to them: Cognac and Armagnac, Brandy, Grappa and Weinbrand.
An excellent overview of this glamorous world of brandies comes care of ProWein 2024 and its Trend Show “same but different” in Hall 7 and the new themed brand world “ProSpirits” in Hall 5. This makes ProWein from 10 to 12 March 2024 in Düsseldorf the world’s largest and most relevant trade fair for wines and spirits. Some 500 of the over 5,700 exhibitors from throughout the world will showcase their spirits ranges – including just under 100 brandy suppliers. A renaissance and new developments can today be seen in every part of the brandy world. Young, innovative companies delight us with creative ideas and new approaches just as much as tradition-rich, long-established brands.
Anything goes: new aromas in cognac
In the cognac segment manufacturers surprise us 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). With this move they are picking up a trend already found for a long time in other spirits categories and which is to unlock a new customerbase 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. Add to this, there are more and more cognac brands in 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. Here, it is not the already well-known Millesimes that are in the foreground but Armagnac used 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. This means Armagnac pushes the envelope from the strongly emotional world of Millesimes to pure and diverse pleasure.
Spain’s diversity
The Spanish Brandy de Jerez – like many other brandy categories – also thrives on pure enjoyment. But producers have now realised these exquisite distillates from southern Spain are also a delight to mix cocktails with. More and more of them are flagging up the cocktails and long drinks made possible by the array of brandies from Andalucia. At the same time, exhibitors such as the Osborne Group (Hall 5, D02) continue banking on the personality of the individual brandies presenting 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 making their way back into the conscience 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) shows just what is possible with grappas finished in port wine casks as does 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.
No-alcohol wine provides base product for brandy
The process of de-alcoholisation of wine provides another, interesting base product for brandy production: the remaining distillate of no-alcohol 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 by 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 are magnificently showcased. Classic-traditional and new, innovative brands show the current diversity of brandy. Next to such classics as Cognac and Armagnac from France, Brandy de Jerez from Spain, Grappa from Italy or the new brandies from Germany many other exotic products what the traditional and contemporary brandy world is all about. A giant new diversity – to be discovered 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

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