It’s that time of year again – time for business in the world of Cognac. So we decided to take the Cognac Expert team on a small excursion, to do some business, too. PROWEIN is Germany’s largest wine and spirits convention, and one of the most important events in the Cognac calendar.
The Vinexpo in Bordeaux may be larger, but we are told that PROWEIN is the more important fair for Cognac producers to place their products with international distributors, restaurants, bars – and, not to forget, online shops!
Upon arrival, Sophie and Max, joined by Jacqueline and Roberto, started the day with a cheeky Ginger Cognac liqueur on the rocks at the stand of HEDONIST. The name suggests that this new brand is all about decadence and drinking in style. Jean-Marc Larhantec, CEO and founder of the product, proudly presents his latest invention.
He tells us about his love of spirits and that it’s always been a dream of his to make his own brand. A deliciously fresh, not overly sweet clear Cognac-ginger-liqueur, HEDONIST comes in a matte black bottle, one you can picture in a cool minimalist interior. No wonder: Jean-Marc’s background is in marketing and advertising, he has developed campaigns for high fashion houses such as Dior and Chanel. Congratulations, we love this new product!
HEDONIST’s retail price is around 30 USD. Apparently, a secret launch party is planned in New York City – hopefully we’ll be invited, sounds amazing!
Next up, we meet with the utterly charming Pierre Vaudon, master blender at Cognac Francois Voyer. He is the best when it comes to explaining the philosophy and essence behind Cognac-making. With a dedicated focus on tradition, Pierre is responsible for keeping this small scale Cognac house a true jewel.
He consistently develops blends that are of outstanding quality, addressing the connoisseur among the Cognac drinkers. His new product reflects this perfectly: It’s a 50cl bottle of the awarded Francois Voyer XO Gold. The bottle is elegant, without unnecessary frills or bling. The average retail price is 60 Euro, which means perfect for those who would like to try this character XO. Pierre also presented us the 2006 vintage Cognac “Pale & Light”. And he shared another piece of amazing information with us…that Francois Voyer’s oldest eau-de vie is from 1914! And that that year’s vintage is referred to as the “women’s vintage”, because all the men were in battle during World War I.
And to top it all off, Pierre shared Francois Voyer’s “Ancestral No 7” with us, a Tres Vieux Cognac from the Grande Champagne. Whether you know your way around Cognac or not, this will blow you away…
We did a few short visits to say hi and check out new products at Tessendier & Fils who own Cognac Park. Jerome Tessendier welcomed us and presented us with Park’s range of Vintage Cognacs 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, and 1974. This is a new series the house started, and which they will continue doing.
Then we passed by Cognac DEAU, Cognac Pierre Ferrand, Cognac Hardy, Cognac Bowen who have a new product called “St Rob Cognac”, and Cognac De Luze on our way to locate lunch – which, needless to say, ended up being a barbecued sausage.
The second part of our visit started with the ever suave Hervé Bache-Gabrielsen, who introduced us to some amazing like-minded Cognac enthusiasts. We had the great pleasure to meet Tereza Krivinkova and Tomas Kratochvil, the Cognac ambassadors from the Czech Republic. They are young, fashionable, and open. And the best thing is: They opened a Cognac and wine bar called U Staré Studny in the cellar of a 14th century old building in the center of Prague! We absolutely cannot wait to visit… (Anyone who happens to make it there before us, please send us some images!)
And as though the bar project isn’t enough, Tereza got herself a sommelier diploma, plus they distribute small and medium size Cognac brands in the Czech Republic as well. Standing there together and exchanging experiences while sipping on a 1975 Vintage Fins Bois Bache Gabrielsen Cognac, made us feel so confident that Cognac really IS having a rejuvenation!
Next stop, another great encounter, was with Cognac Pierre Lecat, a relatively new brand. We reviewed the range some months ago, and now had the pleasure to finally meet Yann Hamonou and master blender Hélène Lassoudière Audouin in person.
We actually talked about the need to write an article about all the female master blenders there are, which are sadly not a lot. But the few there are, have some pretty amazing stories and are totally ahead of their game. To be followed up! Pierre Lecat is beautifully designed, using elements from clocks and watches to reflect the aspect of time in the art of Cognac-making.
Another special meeting was with Michel Dobbé and Nicolas Stearns from Cognac Dobbé. Same as with Lecat, we recently tasted and reviewed Dobbé’s Cognac, so we have an affinity for the house. We appreciate that it is a family-run business run by father and son-in-law. They have a great understanding of planing their brand between tradition and modern times.
We quickly whizzed by ABK6’s stand, who were proudly presenting their ABK6 Honey Cognac Liqueur. Elodie Abecassis came up with this fresh invention, giving the brand another unusual and modern product. Later on that evening, we were invited to a beautiful dinner hosted by ABK6, which we’ll review soon!
Our last Cognac date was with Philippe Coste, CEO of the Compagnie de Guyenne and spokesperson of Cognac Meukow. We’ve known Philippe for many years, so it felt familiar to share a glass of Grande Champagne Meukow XO with him and catch up about what’s new and hot in Cognac right now. We loved the fact that he recently initiated an “After Work”-event in the town of Cognac, which gets pretty dull in the evening, to say the least.
Philippe is one of those people who understands the importance of social entertainment for this business. Some time ago, he signed Jägermeister to his roster of brands, they’re all about the party. No new Meukow products for now, but some very exciting news on the horizon. Stay tuned, we’ll be the first to report!
An amazing day with a lot of different Cognacs and many fascinating conversations. We left PROWEIN with a sense that the time for Cognac has come, and that we’re right in the middle of it. To celebrate this, we wrapped up the day at an honest Düsseldorf pub, drinking giant glasses of non-alcoholic beverages!