Saintes Salisbury Amities Picnic in the Park
On Friday, 9th June, the Saintes Salisbury Amitiés held a picnic in the park on the Île Madame in Jarnac. Those of you who know the area may wonder why this took place so far from Saintes and really, other than both being on the Charente river, they do not have too much in common. Well, one thing that Jarnac has that Saintes does not is the head office of Hine cognac house. Through connections with a member of the association Hine had offered to provide a guided visit to members. Jocelyn and I were very honoured to join the picnic and the visit.
Fifteen of us met at the park at 12:30 and had a very jolly picnic. Andrew Haine, an old friend of the SSTA, with his daughter Yasmine were there, along with many old friends of Salisbury as well as some new faces. From the attached photograph you may well be able to spot old friends.
After the picnic and a coffee in a café in the square we made our way along the quay to the discreet entrance to Hine. We were honoured in that we were the very first group to be shown round Hine’s new exhibition of the cognac production process. One point made with emphasis was that Hine is the only cognac house to have a Royal Warrant - By Appointment to HM the Queen. So the next time you are invited to Buckingham Palace for dinner you will know that the after dinner cognac will be Hine.
After the exhibition we were given a lecture by Jacques Blanc on the history of cognac production and English/British, and Dutch, involvement. For instance, Thomas Hine came from Dorset - Shaftesbury I am reliably informed by Caroline. Martell came from the Channel Islands and Hennessy was Irish. This thoroughly researched presentation was fascinating and we were all very grateful to Jacques for the massive effort he had put into producing it.
The visit ended with a talk by Hine’s cellar master who told us about the finer details of the distilling and complicated blending processes needed to make a fine cognac. Such a talk could only be appreciated by a tasting the various cognacs being described, which we all set about with the necessary academic interest!
It was a lovely day and Jocelyn and I are very grateful to Catherine for inviting us to attend and, along with Jacques, for making all the arrangements for a lovely day.