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BN Travel: #BNinFrance – All About that Hennessy as Ink Visits Cognac

Ink Eze

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BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_Moet Hennessy_Cognac_BNinFrance_2Hiya, Ink Eze here.

“I just got back” 😉 from France and it was an amazing time. This is Part 1 of my #BNinFrance Travel series, where I’ll talk about the journey to France, and all about our Hennessy immersion in Cognac.

***

Sunday Evening

I headed to the airport on Sunday evening with excitement. When I got to the counter, I met my fellow travellers, including Emmanuelle and Christian from the Moet Hennessy Nigeria team.

After check-in, we headed to the Air France/KLM Lounge where we all got acquainted. We were a group of 9 on the trip – Gboyega was from Hennessy, while the rest of us were trade and press partners.

For press, it was Rich from Pulse Nigeria and me from BellaNaija.

Dotun, co-owner (with 2Baba) of Rumours Nightclubs in GRA Ikeja and FESTAC (also coming to VI next month) !

Sefi of Osimor, a drinks wholesaler and retailer

Lanre of Drinks.ng, an online drinks company

and Arun of Spar, which has been in Nigeria for 23 years (first as Park n Shop)

Before long, it was time to board! By chance, the woman who searched my hand luggage turned out to be from the same village as me – random, I know! She asked what state I’m from, and before you knew it, we found out she even went to school with my sister. It’s a small world indeed.

The plane seat was very comfy. I only had the chance to watch one thing – I started Hotel Transylvania 2, a cute animated movie, and finished the second half when I woke up.

Monday Morning

France, nous sommes arrivées! The immigration officer told me to practice French and I agreed 🙂

There was no time to chill, up next was a domestic flight to Bordeaux.

Lagos ? Paris ? Bordeaux ? Cognac! #BNinFrance #galaxys7ng #MoreThanAPhoneNG

A photo posted by BellaNaija (@bellanaijaonline) on

Thankfully we were checked in all the way through.

After we got our bags, we got into a luxury bus, where we got to know one another, and took in the beautiful sights of the countryside. It was beautiful and lush! Green everywhere, vineyards, little houses. It was so peaceful, but out of excitement, none of us slept.BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_20160523_093917We got to the hotel and it was time to head out once again. I quickly changed into another black skirt and Wanni Fuga top. We went to the Hennessy House in Cognac, where we were received by Hennessy cocktails, and a very brief look at Hennessy bottles over the years.BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_2

Lunch time was good, the fish was cooked to perfection. We talked about how the French love bread but are usually slim (the trick is portion control – they don’t eat a lot of it).

Right before lunch ? Top by @wannifuga #BNinFrance #GalaxyS7NG #MoreThanAPhoneNG

A photo posted by BellaNaija (@bellanaijaonline) on


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Dessert was strawberries and whipped cream – yum!Moet Hennessy_BN in France_Strawberries and Whipped Cream 2
Up next was a trip to the vineyards where Hennessy grows some of its grapes, then the distillery. BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_Moet Hennessy_Cognac_BNinFrance_1@EmmanuelleBax and I had too much fun with the flower wall 🙂BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_thumb_IMG_9178_1024

When you see a real flower wall! ???? @ink.eze in @wannifuga x @emmanuellebax #BNinFrance

A video posted by BellaNaija (@bellanaijaonline) on

The distillery was empty that day because the process isn’t done during the warmer months, to prevent bacteria from getting in (bacteria likes heat, which is why we keep our food in freezers and fridges) and turning the wine into vinegar.

A little bit of “eau de vie” (meaning “water of life” in French) is always left at the bottom of the barrel, to keep it moist and from cracking. When wine is distilled, the middle part is kept and distilled again – that middle part is the water of life.BNinFrance_Hennessy Distillery_

We were allowed to inhale, but don’t do it too much! CO2 stings like a needle, right up the nose. It’s actually a trick winemakers play on newbies – they say “oh this wine smells so good – like grapes, flowers etc”, and they pretend to take a whiff, then the newbie tries and BAM! Lol.

Back to Hennessy, after distillation, is the aging process. The eau de vie is placed in oak barrels to mature. Oak adds to the flavour of the eau de vie. The younger the oak, the more spiciness and flavour it adds to the cognac.

5 Fun Facts about the Hennessy Process

  1. The eau de vie is tried once a year every year by a taster.
  2. There is a seven person committee who can taste and determine what kind of Hennessy (V.S., V.S.O.P., XO, Paradis, Paradis Imperial) an eau de vie’ll be.
  3. Each taster is trained for at least 10 years.
  4. About 100 million liters of Hennessy is produced every year.
  5. The Cognac region in France is responsible for about 46% of that.

The Eau de Vie behind me has been taken out of the barrels, out of maturation, and put in glass jars, with wicker surrounding it.

They will potentially be blended with other Eau de Vies to make the final #Hennessy. We also saw barrels by Richard Hennessy himself! This kind of cognac isn’t XO, VS etc., it’s simply Richard Hennessy. Swag.
BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_thumb_IMG_9228_1024BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_thumb_IMG_9242_1024
Up next, tasting!

During tasting, we found out that what determines the price of the different Hennessy, is NOT the age it was matured for, but for the rarity of the eau de vie.

By law, V.S. (Very Special) needs to be matured for at least 2 years, V.S.O.P. 4 years, and XO 6 years, however, if you think about it, a V.S. and XO can be the same “age” but their tastes are different. The colours also do not determine much, because it’s the oak it was matured in that determines the colour, not the age.

After trying them all, V.S.O.P. was my favourite. It was ordered specially by a king in England, and called Very Superior Old Pale. Which is why it’s ‘milder’ than VS, which is a but more punchy/spicy.

Yes, we are in a classroom ?☺️? #BNinFrance

A video posted by BellaNaija (@bellanaijaonline) on

BN in France_Hennessy Tasting_May 2016

Monday Evening

Dinner was EVERYTHING. I can’t even begin to tell you. But I have to start from somewhere. Lol. I wore an amazing set from designer Wanni Fuga. You can follow her on Instagram here!BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_thumb_IMG_9282_1024

Okay, it was at an amazing chateau (castle) now owned by the Hennessy group. It was bought by one of the Hennessys for his wife, while he was on a business trip to England, she called him and suggested they buy it, and he agreed. It’s on 250 acres of land. 1 acre = 6 plots of land. 1 plot is about the size of a Nigerian compound. That just gives you an idea of how big it was. Omo mehn, there was even a lake there. Not a pond o, a lake.

Even the compound for the staff comfortably fit several houses.
BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_BN in France_Hennessy Immersion_Chateaude Bagnolet_thumb_IMG_9369_1024BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_thumb_IMG_9377_1024BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_thumb_IMG_9347_1024We had a four course meal that ended with a glass of Paradis Imperial. The French drink their cognac after dinner (they don’t usually order it in the club like we do), so it was a perfect fit.

We then gisted with warm flames lit in the fireplace, while the sun set, and then we HAD to leave.BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_thumb_IMG_9374_1024

BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_thumb_IMG_9373_1024

Trust us, we didn’t want to 🙂

Tuesday Morning

We went to a barrel fixing factory. The Hennessy group doesn’t make barrels, but they fix them, though they made one that day for our benefit. It’s a tasking and manual process. Only human beings can feel the wood and groove it into a curved barrel. In over 250 years, no machine has been able to figure out all the intricacies that barrel-making demands.

A lot of the workers are trained from when they are 16 years old!

Press Play! ▶️ The beginnings of the Barrel Making process ? #BNinFrance

A video posted by BellaNaija (@bellanaijaonline) on

Fun Facts about Barrels

  1. Wood is responsible for 30-40% of the flavour in a cognac
  2. It takes about 1,000 hammer strokes to make a barrel
  3. The Hennessy factory in Cognac fixes about 15,000 barrels a year
Oak to Barrel

Oak to Barrel

After the trip to the barrel fixing factory, it was time for lunch again at Chateau de Bagnolet, where we got some time to chill, and they gifted us all with a bottle of Hennessy XO each.BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_thumb_IMG_9447_1024

BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_thumb_IMG_9448_1024

BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_thumb_IMG_9451_1024

BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_thumb_IMG_9452_1024

BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_thumb_IMG_9456_1024

BNinFrance_Moet Hennessy_BellaNaija Travel_ May 2016_thumb_IMG_9460_1024

That’s it for Hennessy! I tasted a bit, learned even more, but the best part was the hospitality. We had exclusive access to many things regular tourists don’t get. By the way, guests are allowed at Chateau de Bagnolet, so if you’re looking for a luxury holiday, that’s an option for you!

***

Up next, champagne time!!! We went to the Champagne region in France, where we stood on the most expensive street in the world, and learned all about Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon and Veuve Clicquot.

We went to the French Open – did the Williams sisters play that day? YES!

Was it an amazing time? Absolutely.

*WATCH OUT FOR PART 2!* (Nollywood Voice) Lol.

Photo Credit: Samsung Galaxy S7

Ink Eze is the Founder of AsoEbiBella.com, a platform for sharing African traditional styles.She Modern Culture and Media at the Ivy League Brown University. She honed her skills in advertising and digital media at one of America’s leading tech companies in marketing.She became BellaNaija Weddings editor in 2013, and Assistant Editor of BellaNaija, heading the lifestyle section - Style, Beauty and Living until January 2017. Under her leadership, BN Weddings gained international prominence and became Africa’s foremost wedding media brand with millions of followers across several platforms and coverage on BuzzFeed, BBC & more. #AsoEbiBella became BellaNaija.com’s top feature, with over 1.8 million followers on Instagram. She conceived of BBN Wonderland, Nigeria’s top bridal event since 2015 with Baileys Nigeria.Now she spends her time on AsoEbiBella, and has executed marketing campaigns with local and international brands including HP Nigeria, Orijin and Sunlight Detergent. and sharing her insights with the world. For more Ink, join her on @Ink.Eze | @AsoEbiBella

12 Comments

  1. Rer

    May 31, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    Awww beautiful I must say….

  2. thefashionuncutmedia.blogspot.com

    May 31, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    WOW… gorgeous photos.

  3. Princess P

    May 31, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    lovely photos
    I love your outfit Ink

  4. nino

    May 31, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    INK you look gorgeous.
    This fitfam secrets you embarked on, you need to share…
    Looks like you had a blast too.

    But why do i click next page on BN and end up on COZA site…I mean of all sites to land on…
    COZA!!!!!!
    Did BN get hacked?
    Hian

    • Ocean Beauty

      May 31, 2016 at 4:41 pm

      Your own good na. At least you might see the robust reply. Who knows?
      For me it redirects me to one of these chinese shopping sites.
      INK you look good.
      BN, I still awaiting my employment letter from you. Interview me and know where I fit.

  5. olorire

    May 31, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    You look so beautiful bella even younger wowwww!!!!! So freshhhhhh!!!!! U look like an 18 year old #wow no that you were not looking good before but this is great!!!!!

    • Ada Nnewi

      May 31, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      Ink is Uche (Bella’s) sister…

  6. Angie

    May 31, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Nice. I will follow the series.
    I hope you got to go to the vineyards. Sinon, grave erreur, comme vous etiez á Bordeaux.

  7. Mz Socially Awkward...

    May 31, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Mehnnn, Ink… that thing about French women and how they’ll be looking all tres chic and sleekly slender in spite of eating all that bread…. I tell you, it’s a mystery. Visited the South of France with a friend and that was one of the first things we noticed – bread served as a staple accompaniment with every meal (and cheese! Kai…) and everyone seemingly feasting away AND YET. See as their babes go just dey in the constant shape of “i”. Where the bread don digest go??? You go wound if you follow them oh…

    Who’s Emmanuelle Bax? She’s pretty. And you enjoy all this one, still join awoof ticket to French Open on top? Na wa to you oh. I may find consolation in receiving that Wana Fuga ensemble – perraps, it is my color… 🙂

    • Draken

      June 1, 2016 at 4:10 am

      French women smoke like chimneys. Smoking raises the metabolism while reducing appetite. Pls don’t envy them in 20 yrs the great Euro cancer epidemic will be ….wait for it…Lengen-dary

  8. nnenne

    June 1, 2016 at 1:08 am

    …And this my friends, is one of the ways, other countries promote tourism and trade.

  9. Geraldine Ogwe

    June 1, 2016 at 5:15 am

    Wow. I have learned from you too. Enjoy your experience. You look(ed) nice.

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