Villevert Manor


Villevert Manor, now the headquarters of the Maison Villevert group, was built in 1528 by Jehan Robicquet.  He was an appointee of the most famous king of France during the Renaissance – François 1st  – and his official supplier of furs, feathers and leather.  He later served as the king’s personal assistant before becoming the mayor of Cognac.


In 1528, Jehan Robicquet had acquired a plot of land at Villevert where the family would put down roots. The Robiquet family has always been mindful of their ancestor’s initial commitments and has always been closely involved in the life and development of Cognac. Positions held by family members, in turn, include mayor, councilor, alderman, prosecutor, and army general. Each was equally keen to further the progress of the town as well as the family business.  As another example of family endeavour, there are even historical records of a Robicquet leading armed men and being wounded in combat during the Fronde war of 1650.

Stepping inside the manor, the visitor is at once immersed in the aura of the Renaissance and each room is an ode to a different stage in Maison Villevert’s creative process.

‘L’Atelier d’inspiration’


‘L’Atelier d’inspiration’:  this room exemplifies the spirit that inspires Jean-Sébastien Robicquet.  It is here that there is a carefully preserved facsimile of a recipe dating back to 1495: it is for the first gin made for enjoyment, rather than medicinal purposes, and is also the first grape-based gin.  The original manuscript is housed in the British Library and Jean-Sébastien Robicquet was granted special access.  The recipe includes botanicals and also specifies that, for quality, distilled wine from the Cognac region should be used.

Wine-making


This room symbolises the heart of Maison Villevert’s profession and the very origin of the company’s products – the grape.  Above the table in front of the large period fireplace is a lighting installation by British designer Tom Dixon evoking clusters of grapes.

Distillation


Here, the décor gives pride of place to copper, an incarnation of the still and the distillation process – the art of capturing the very essence of wine, which is a deeply held passion in the Cognac region.  The different methods of distillation are represented here through the works of art on display, the copper signifying the vital and enhancing role it plays in distilling the wine.

Ageing


This sitting room in woody tones exudes serenity and invites guests of the manor to reflect on the patience and the time needed to perfect the finest spirits.  Without this lengthy ageing process, the cognac eaux-de-vie would not be endowed with notes of rancio, oaky qualities or hints of tobacco.  That time is of the essence can also be said for tequila, pineau, vermouth and fine wines:  time is the requisite feature shared by these grape-based products.  The artifacts on display evoke 16th century chivalry – daggers, lances and swords – and symbolise the noble, conquering spirit of the Robicquets.

The vesper lounge rounding off a visit to Maison Villevert, this is where guests can enjoy a relaxing tasting experience.  Jean-Sébastien Robicquet himself likes to serve guests cocktails of his own creation – including ‘La Quintinye Vermouth Royal’ whose origins involve an interesting tale:  while visiting a London club, Jean-Sébastien Robicquet gave the mixologist carte blanche to prepare a cocktail of his choosing.  The mixologist made a cocktail composed of… G’Vine… Cîroc… and an aperitif made from Bordeaux wine.  Jean-Sébastien Robicquet was impelled to create his own version of the third ingredient that the mixologist could have chosen… and this is how La Quintinye Vermouth Royal  came into being… made from the famous pineau des Charentes.

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