Barthelasse Island is one of the largest river islands in Europe and is located between the Palais des Papes and Chartreuse de Villeneuve-lez-Avignon, which in the 14th century were connected by the famous ‘Pont d’Avignon’; its sandy, silty soil is swept by the Mistral and is ideal for growing outstanding Williams’ pears, drenched by the sun of Provence. It was here that, in the 1940s, Claude Manguin, a talented agriculturist and son of the painter Henri Manguin (one of the founders of Fauvism alongside Matisse, Marquet, Camouin and Braque), planted several dozen hectares of pear trees. He produced fruit of exceptional quality, which supplied the best-known gourmet delicatessens. Claude Manguin wanted to concentrate the superb aromas of the fruits of Vaucluse and the surrounding areas into liqueurs and brandies and, in 1957, founded the Manguin distillery in the midst of his orchards. Here, he turned his Williams’ pear brandies into works of art that can be found on the best gourmet tables both in France and abroad. Claude’s son, Henri, later took over from him. Today, his grandson Philippe represents the third generation of distillers. He performs every stage of production using state-of-the-art procedures and with finesse, patience and attention to detail. ‘Concentrating the essence of these fruits into the finest brandies is my passion and can be explained by tradition and the demands of my five senses!’ The Manguin distillery is a Living Heritage Business and was taken over in early 2011 by Emmanuel and Béatrice Hanquiez, who are renovating the site and developing new, innovative processes. Emmanuel and Béatrice Hanquiez are aiming at the top end of the market with their n°47, made from an exceptional batch of local Williams’ pears harvested in 2012 and then sorted and de-stalked. This ‘Cœur de Chauffe’ is a subtle selection of the most aromatic alcohols, with delicate, complex and powerful aromas and a unique after-taste. Production is limited to 1,250 screen-printed carafes with numbered labels, stoppers and wooden boxes. No 45 accentuates the golden flesh and slightly tangy freshness of greengages harvested in 2005. Slow fermentation and double distillation in Charente stills, combined with seven years’ ageing in oak barrels, make this an exceptional brandy for connoisseurs. Manguin has also just created Caraxès, a sensual, indulgent balance of tastes which combines its famous, subtly distilled Williams’ pears with a blend of Caribbean rums aged in wooden casks, producing hints of vanilla and spice. Elissir* Ambré combines the elegance of an old marc brandy with the sweetness of mandarins, subtly enhanced with a hint of thyme and capturing all the aromas of Provence; it is available in a square bottle with a glass stopper and a black, gold-embossed velvet label.