Welcome to the Federation of French Brandy
Brandy has quite a history! Despite being enjoyed and well-known all over the world, this category of drink is virtually unknown in France.
However, it all began in ancient times when vines arrived on French soil. Winegrowers were quickly faced with two obstacles: harvests that were difficult to plan and sometimes generated surpluses, and the fragility of some wines that were very difficult to preserve. The solutions available lacked flexibility: you could either rip up the vines or resign yourself to watching your fragile wines turn to vinegar.
In the 14th century, the mechanisms of distillation (at the time used solely for pharmacopoeia and perfumery) were described by Arnaud de Villeneuve, followed by a later (1440) description by Savonarole, who built the first metal still. Its use would become increasingly widespread across various wine regions, finally offering a solution to the problem of surplus harvests.
International trade secured the development of wine brandy, and contributed to what subsequently became ‘French Brandy’. The Dutch began maritime trading of wine brandy from 1600 onwards. This form of production was made for long voyages as it offered better volumes than wine and could be preserved much more effectively, and was also easier to transport thanks to storage in wooden barrels.
After this point, the wine used in brandy making no longer came solely from France, where the vast majority of grape juices were used to produce still wines. Nevertheless, the ageing and blending methods that developed alongside this are still boosting the sector’s reputation on an international level. This success can be measured in shipping volumes (French brandy is the European market leader by far with the equivalent of 110 million bottles sold a year, 99% of which are exported) or alternatively in medals won at prestigious international competitions such as the San Francisco Spirits Competition or the International Wine and Spirit Competition.
Despite having been around for 300 years, the category of brandy is still in need of development. French and European key players fighting on all international fronts face competitors who are governed by regulations that are sometimes rather ‘flexible’ (in particular as regards raw materials), or even non-existent in some countries. And in an era when the pursuit of meaning has never been more relevant, the Federation of French Brandy is advocating a vision of brandy that respects its long and complex history. This website is designed to be a showcase for French Brandy in all its forms. We hope that you find the answers you are looking for. If not, please feel free to get in touch with your questions and comments via our ‘contact’ form.
Jérôme ROYER, Président