After exactly two years, we (Sophie and Max) are back at the world’s biggest wine and spirits convention. And we might add, with ten times as much traffic on the website as in 2011! Great to see some old friends and to make a lot of new acquaintances. Let us give you a run-through of our first day…

The Cognac Marathon: Vinexpo 2013 Diary DAY 1

First off, we went to see our longtime supporter Herve Bache Garbrielsen at his brand’s booth. As always, looking smart and understated. He talked us through recent developments and showed us their range of new products. Amongst them two bottles in the Pure&Rustic range, namely one organic Grande Champagne (limited edition of 1000) and a Fine Champagne (limited edition of 2000); a new VS and VSOP in the style of the contemporary bottle design of the Pure&Rustic line; and an XO from the Fins Bois and Petite Champagne regions, presented in a heavy glass decanter.

For their Dupuy brand, they launched a high-end Hors d’Age Cognac named “Auguste”, after the founder of the cognac house, Auguste Dupuy. The beautiful crystal bottle is crafted by manufacturer Daum. Another new product is Dupuy Luxus Tentation, slightly more targeted at the Chinese and Russian markets, with its golden engraving.

Max swirling a Claude Thorin Grande Champagne Cognac

Two very authentic encounters, we found, were with the cognac producers Claude Thorin and Bernard Boutinet, both of whom are very much respected in the industry for the quality of their products, and for standing by their family tradition. We did tastings at both their stands, and had the opportunity to experience Cognac Thorin’s “Tres Rare”, an limited Hors d’Age, blended from Claude’s father’s oldest eaux-de-vie. The bottle retails at around 400 Euros, and given that the nose and taste are exceptional, this is a true discovery for us, and can be highly recommended (the bottle will be launched soon).

Legendary: Bernard Boutinet in front of his Cognac range.

Bernard Boutinet made us go through nearly his entire range – which is quite a selection of bottles, from a VS to a Cigar blend, finishing with a Boutinet Coeur de Fins Bois on ice. Make no mistake, this charming elderly gentleman is a true cognac producer and notices more than you think, with his wife’s paintings decorating this modest stand. A veritable classic!

Lunchtime in France, as you may know, takes forever. Which is perfect in most cases, but when you have meetings scheduled all day, it means waiting for an hour and eating in five minutes. But hey, we’re not complaining. The sun was shining and the food was delicious. Name one other fair in the world, where people sit down to have a three course meal…

Next up was Tessendier & Fils with their four Cognac brands Park, Campagnere, Grand Breuil, and Buisson. Anais, who is looking after US business in Los Angeles since a year, was giving us a fresh and inspiring overview of the group’s activity and new products.


They just added a new organic cognac to their range, which is 100% from the Fins Bois growing area. This was actually the first time we paid more close attention to Cognac Park, which is in fact a very cool brand. They also invited us to a food pairing event tomorrow, where they will serve caviar and cognac – We’ll try to get a taste!

On our way to our last meeting, we came across a totally unexpected product, a German brandy called Alter Weinbrand Balthasar Ress. Ress is a wine producer from the Rheingau region, and they have recently launched a 10 as well as a 20 year old single grape variety brandy made from Riesling grapes. A very interesting alternative. It was masculine on the nose, and surprisingly round on the palate, with a smooth finish.

Then we were welcomed by Benedicte Hardy to show us around their pristine booth. She introcuded us to their entirely rebranded range, which includes a VS, VSOP, XO, and an Organic Cognac.

And if this weren’t enough, Cognac Hardy also launched a special edition bottle in collaboration with Lalique called “Printemps”. This exclusive crystal decanter stands in the tradition of creating highend luxury products that may seem closer to the world of fashion and perfumerie than spirits. They just trade marketed the slogan “Haute Couture for Cognac”. We loved that idea!

The Cognac Marathon: Vinexpo 2013 Diary DAY 1

Strolling out of Vinexpo after a long day, we couldn’t help but catch a drink at the happening Meukow bar, where we were introduced to Claude Brugerolles, and bumped into our friend, the auctioneer of, among others, the most prestigious Cognac auction La Part des Anges Vincent Gerard-Tasset. As a nice surprise, BNIC head of communication Agnes Aubin joined the table, filling us in on some extremely exciting news, which we cannot disclose quite yet, but will make sure the entire world of cognac-expert fans will know about in the very near future.

To round off our first day, we were invited to a beautiful dinner at the wine estate Chateau de Seguin, a Bordeaux wine estate with about 140 hectares of vineyards (!), recently acquired by our friends and neighbors, the Mottet family.

Sadly we missed the helicopter pick-up, and got stuck in traffic instead on the way out of Bordeaux.

As we’re writing this, we’re driving back home to Cognac at 2am in a thunderstorm and torrential rain. We’ll be back with more tomorrow…

Read Part 2: The next day at Vinexpo 2013

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The Cognac Marathon: Vinexpo 2013 Diary DAY 1

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Max is a spirits expert and speaker, into marketing, technology, startups, and business development. He’s also a farmer. He likes tools and machines, Game of Thrones, and Better Call Saul. Included in his Top 10 Cognacs are the Audry XO and Bache Gabrielsen 1973.Max founded Cognac Expert in 2010 at his family’s estate in Poullignac, in the Cognac region, France. Started as a blog, today Cognac Expert is the world’s largest website about all things Cognac, a blog, and a specialized online shop featuring 800+ different Cognac bottles.

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