Brouage Aunis et Saintonge en images - photographies Francois Poulet-Mathis
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Yann ARTHUS-BERTRAND - paysage agricole pres de Cognac, Charente

Like most of the French vineyards in the 19th century, the Charente vineyard, a large French wine-producing region, was ravaged by phylloxera, an illness caused by a parasitic aphid. A great share of the vineyards in this region was replaced by cereal crops that still dominate the landscape. Nevertheless, vineyards have gradually been replanted around Cognac, where the production of liquor with the same name has kept increasing. The trebbiano (ugni blanc) that grows on chalky soil produces wine that is distilled twice. Eau-de-vie obtained like this undergoes extended ageing in oak barrels and this produces cognac. The stock currently being aged is the equivalent of over a billion bottles. This represents 6 years of sales. Only alcohol from this soil delimited by a decree since 1909 and divided into six growth areas can be called Cognac. It takes up just over 185.329 acres (75.000 hectares) and employs about 18.500 people: wine growers and distillers as well as all trades related to cork, glassmaking, cardboard and marketing. Only 3% of the production is consumed in France. In 2011, nearly 163 million bottles were exported to 158 countries, mainly to the United States, Singapore, China, the United Kingdom and Germany.
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