Facts about Prunier
A Deep Dive into the World of Prunier
Meet Stéphane Burnez
The current cellar master of the house of Prunier: Stephane Burnez is the 5th generation to take the reigns at Prunier and has been enhancing the family traditions for more than 20 years now. With a vision to continue Prunier’s heritage into the generation (the 6th soon to follow), he strives to replenish the Prunier cellars with yet more beautifully aged eau-de-vie that will be ready, in turn, for the next family members. In doing so, he envisions his future ancestors enjoying the Cognac in the same way that he and his family are appreciating those that were stored for them by previous generations of the Prunier family.
While preparing Maison Prunier for its future, Stephane focuses his attention on the art of tasting. As with each final product, comes a story to tell, and for Stephane – this comes with a tasting. By regularly tasting his vintage Cognacs, he actively searches for a balance between natural sweetness alongside the typicity of a vintage year and terroir. When each of the components combine in harmony – he can judge if the Cognac is ready to be bottled.
His top Cognac pick, if stuck on a desert island with just one glass and one bottle to hand – you ask?
Steeped in tradition, Cognac Prunier is a family run maison with cellars in the heart of the town of Cognac. The house does not own its own vineyards, instead, they buy the eaux-de-vie directly from supplying vine growers and distillers each year, and then carry out the ageing process in their own cellars.
Prunier 20 Years Old Cognac
Growth Area: Fins Bois
Cognac Age: 20 Years Old
Age statements are still rare in the world of Cognac, but this excellent release from the House of Prunier displays its age proudly. The Prunier 20 Years Old Cognac is a limited edition, with only about 2,500 bottles produced. All the eaux-de-vie for this blend have been matured in 250-400 liter medium-toasted oak casks, resulting in a quite dry and fresh Cognac, reminiscent of the early 20th-century style.
Prunier 20 Years Old Cognac
Prunier XXO Series 1
Cognac of the Month - 15% OFF
Concentrated, rich, robust. A serious expression that has lovely fruit intensity, rancio, dried apricots and pears, chocolate and orange peel. Cask Strength but the intensity of flavours carry the alcohol well through the palate which is smooth and moorish. Certainly a great spirit, well defined and...
I had the pleasure of tasting this rare bottle project while travelling. Prunier are a well respected house and this is a testament to their reputation. Truly a piece of art Cognac not a mass produced gimmick. It seems that the idea behind this is just to make great cognac, not to make an age statement. It's...
Prunier XXO Family Series No1
I tried this a couple of weeks ago after I purchased a bottle. Although this has been the most expensive Cognac I have purchased to date. I was a little hesitant when I saw it was cask strength 50.9% ABV, Once it has time in the glass to open up it blossoms into the most amazing nose and palate...
Growth Area: Fins Bois
Cognac Age: XXO Cognac
One step up from the regular XO is the XXO, and Prunier are next in line with their very own innovative take on the newest Cognac age denomination. The Prunier Cognac XXO Family Series Number 1 represents at least 14 years of aging, after the XXO age category became official in November 2018. Aromatic, complex and floral in nature, this Cognac will be a sure winner with any connoisseur.
Prunier XO Très Vieille Grande Champagne
This was an early favourite in my cognac life. And after tasting it again, it still is. This cognac is rather dark and has a mature expression on the nose. I find menthol, leather, tobacco and chocolate. In the mouth it is very tasty and concentrated. You could believe this is both older and stronger...
The unforgettable Cognac
Très Vieille Grande champagne cognac has always been my pursuit of wine, this cognac is very exciting, complex and full-bodied. A lot of fruit aroma, tobacco and woody aroma emerged after opening the bottle. Drink a mouthful of cognac, apple preserves and dried flowers, leather, chocolate and...
Great experience for the price!
I had the pleasure to visit a friend in Cognac and taste this very old XO in one of the eldest family owned Cognac house I've been said.. I am not an expert, more used to whiskey, but this is definitely one of the best Cognac (even spirit? oh!) I have ever experienced. I have tried several classic...
Growth Area: Grande Champagne
Cognac Age: XO Cognac - up to 45 Years Old
Prunier XO Très Vieille Grande Champagne is a 100% Grande Champagne Cognac created from eaux-de-vie that have been aged for an average of 45 years. There's a reason that the Grande Champagne region is known as the Premier Cru: its wonderful, deep chalky soil allows for consistent growing conditions and steady maturation of grapes even during the hottest summers.
Prunier VSOP Grande Champagne
Grande Champagne Cognac
Growth Area: Grande Champagne
Cognac Age: VSOP
The House of Prunier are particularly proud of their VSOP Grande Champagne Cognac, a beautiful blend of eaux-de-vie from vineyards across the Premier Cru. This expression boasts a particularly rich and sophisticated flavor profile for a Cognac of its age, with wonderfully earthy tones that can only be achieved by using quality eaux-de-vie left to age in the most optimum conditions.
As with all Prunier Cognacs, attention to detail remains unchanged, and the Prunier VSOP Grande Champagne Cognac is a wonderful example of how a young Cognac, when done right, can be as rich and indulgent as an XO or beyond.
For five generations, each with the same passion for Cognac, Maison Prunier has preserved the memory of its industry’s trade, for over two centuries. From stocking, aging, blending and bottling, for 250 years the house of Prunier celebrates only the very best eaux-de-vie on the market and has been optimizing its quality with esteemed savoir-faire artisanal craftsmanship. It’s no surprise Prunier has been the leader of the Chinese market for the past 30 years.
The Cognac house Prunier dates back to 1665, when Jean Prunier, a renowned Cognac expert from the area of La Rochelle, began producing wine and brandy. He began shipping his products around the world in the early 1700s, and Cognac Prunier was born. His son, Gabriel Prunier took over the company after Jean’s death in 1732, followed by his grandson, also called Jean Prunier. Another family member, Francois Prunier, acquired vineyards in the Cognac district around St-Jean-d’Angély. It was him and another Jean Prunier who finalized the firm's move to the town of Cognac itself in the early 1800’s. This third Jean Prunier had three sons, Alphonse, Marcel and Gaston, each who of course followed in the family tradition.
Alphonse took over the firm, Marcel worked in Europe as a representative of the company and Gaston moved to Australia where he set up an antipodean branch of Cognac Prunier in Melbourne. When Alphonse died in 1918 he left no direct descendent. So his widow called on her nephew, Jean Burnez, to take over the management of the company. Next, Jean’s son Claude Burnez (1927-2011) succeeded his father as head of the company before handing over management to his wife Susan Burnez in 1987. Since 2009, Claude’s son Stéphane Burnez has ensured the continuity in this family Cognac company with the help from his daughter Alice, who joined in 2016.
The sisters Alice and Claire Burnez mark the 6th generation of the famous Cognac house Prunier, taking over from their father the subtle blend of the past and the present looking towards the future. Both agree the way of working has changed from that one of their father.
As you’d expect in such a history rich family business both have always been allowed to taste wines and spirits at family dinners and parties to grow into the business.
The Prunier Philosophy
One simple one that embodies Prunier’’s core ethos. Without paying respect to the land, the history and the people who work hard to produce fine quality Cognac as well as the customers who in turn work hard to enjoy said Cognac – the brand and the Cognac industry in general, simply wouldn't exist.
Five Fun Facts about Prunier
- The first-ever vintage offering by Maison Prunier was the 1982 Grande Champagne bottle
- The best eau-de-vie Stephane Burnez has ever tasted is also Prunier’s first-ever 20-year-old vintage: 1966 Fins Bois Cognac
- Stephane Burnez actually started his career in Burgundy, before relocating to the Cognac region – and that’s why he values terroir, the grape variety, and the meticulous work of the winemaker so much.
- Unlike many other Cognac houses, Prunier is dominated by women working in Cognac – Madame Alphonse Prunier (1918-1943), Madame Claude Burnez and now Stephane’s daughters Alice and Claire Burnez.
- Maison Prunier decided to go back to its roots by nurturing its own vines (like the house once did back in the 1920s) and now owns 6 hectares of vines in the Fins Bois cru.
Did you know that the Prunier brand logo wasn’t always an illustration of the Lieutenant's house? Back when the brand was owned by the Prunier family, rather fittingly illustrated a Prunier tree. However, when Jean Burnez (Stephane Burnez’s grandfather) took over from his aunt he re-branded the house of Prunier with the image of its new estate and headquarters: Maison de la Lieutenance.
Since Prunier was already known for its collection of old Cognacs, the Lieutenant’s house seemed to represent the brand well as it is the oldest house in Cognac and has been registered as a French historical monument since 1933.
© photos Martin DEJOIE / Les Editions d'Autils
© photos Fabrice Schick / Photographie Extramuros