Not expecting to make it through the day, totally sleep deprived and saturated with current affairs from the world of Cognac, AND stuck in traffic yet again… We did!
We had a great last day at Vinexpo, with even more meetings than in the last two days. Still in the car, we received a tweet from Cognac Camus, saying the coffee was hot and awaiting us.
As we were early, the fair was still pretty much empty, and the stand of Camus felt a bit like a business lounge. Jean de Tudert talked us through the recent developments at the cognac house, explaining how they approached the repackaging of their “Elegance” range, their credo being “breathe life into tradition”.
Matthieu Lavauzelle and Elodie Abecassis toured us through the stand, showing us all their other new bottles, such as the exclusive ABK6 limited family edition in a beautiful decanter, and the even more limited “Partage” from Cognac Leyrat.
We got some fresh air, waiting for Claire Coates and Jacques Petit for a quick update on their joint venture “So Yang”, a tea-infused cognac. Claire – who is highly experienced in the Cognac industry as the former long-term Head of Communication of the BNIC – has been amongst our number one supporters since the very beginnings of Cognac-Expert, for which we are truly thankful.
Jacques, who owns the cognac brand Andre Petit, and is the blending genius behind So Yang, brought us a bottle of his wonderful Hors d’Age to document.
Running late again, we raced down the alley to Delamain Cognac, one of the most traditional and upscale houses around. Two years down the line, we immediately recognized Charles Braastad, who hasn’t changed a bit. He showed us a recently published coffee table book edited by Daniel Rey and Genevieve Jamin, which presents a large number of cognac estates with a collection of stunning photographs. Needless to say, the pictures of Delamain are beautiful.
We were introduced to Patrick Peyrelongue, with whom Charles runs the cognac house. They showed us two new vintage cognacs, one from 1973 (edition of 396) and the other from 1983 (edition of only 163) – Max’s birth year and therefore, lucky for us, worthy of a tasting! It had a perfectly smooth and round taste, and was very versatile on the nose. Finally, holding a magnum bottle of Delamain’s flagship product, “Pale & Dry”, really makes you sense the quality and value of this exclusive brand.
Perfect timing: H. Mounier had just served some delicious food as we were arriving to their stand and were starving. And their communication manager served us a chilled glass of champagne to go with it.
That’s how we like it… Soon we were joined by president of the group, Christophe Juarez, who presented the new design of their brand Henri Mounier, which they have every right to be proud of. Ranging from a VS to an XO Extra, the bottles and packaging is kept in earthy colors and simple design, but still delivering a sense of class, with the emblem of the brand embossed on both bottle and box. Then the communication manager literally ‘weightlifted’ the impressive 3 liter carafe of the Prince de Polignac XO Royal, which will hit the market in the second half of 2013.
Then we made an unannounced visit to Cognac Ferrand, remembering the nice chat we had with its director Alexandre Gabriel two years ago. It took him about one second to put the pieces together, and then it seemed we continued our conversation where we left it off.
He told us about the legendary mixologist David Wondrich, who prefers to use Ferrand Cognac in his drinks, the importance of creativity and inspiration in creating new products, and his collection of vintage books of drinks recipes from the 18th century. Alexandre’s passionate way of storytelling animates you to understand the making of cognac in a totally different light, namely as a love and curiosity for civilization and things past.
On our way to Cognac Deau, we passed by Cognac Prunier, Louis Royer and Chateau de Beaulon, checking out their novelties and stand presentations. At Deau, we were received by the young and eloquent head of sales, Roland Legaret, at a booth that definitely stood out for its cool design. He is the grandson of Roland Bru, who founded a cognac house with the same name, which the family still runs. We were very impressed with the maturity of the stand and confidence in their range of products. Roland told us about the development of the Deau brand, which now features “Deau XO”, “Deau Black”, and “Deau Louis Memory”, bottles with a contemporary, asymmetrical look that we really like. Roland also showed us their recently launched tasting boxes, one with three and the other with six bottles.
Last up, in time for happy hour: Cognac Meukow, Vinexpo 2011’s winner for best booth (awarded, of course, by Cognac-Expert!). We met with Damien Bertrand, and briefly said hello to Philippe Coste. Meukow has not come out with a new product this year, but have redesigned Cognac Brugerolle instead. Damien opened the gold engraved decanter for us to allow us a taste. A perfect ending to this three-day marathon!
Cognac comes with a passion for excellence. Seeing a hugely diverse array of products, brands, and strategies, this is a fundamental quality that everyone shares. This is what we were reminded of during this year’s Vinexpo. And we’d like to leave you with this thought…