Alexandre Gabriel was born in southern Burgundy, near the medieval town of Cluny in France. Weekends during his youth were spent working on the family farm, which is where Alexandre’s great love of the land came from. His grandfather, a major influence in his life, made sure Alexandre learned how to graft a tree, milk a cow and, importantly, harvest grapes. “For my grandfather, wealth could only come from the land," Alexandre remembers fondly.
While in business school, Alexandre began working on a school project whereby he would travel through various regions in France, meeting small wine producers and offering his nascent business expertise to help them expand their business. It is on one of these trips through Cognac that Alexandre discovered the Maison Ferrand in the heart of the Grande Champagne district of Cognac, and where he met Mr. Ferrand.
“The Ferrand Cognac was one of the oldest Cognac houses and at the time totally dormant. It was sitting on good stocks of Cognac and Mr. Ferrand had one of the best savoir-faire of the region, but was not selling anything,” says Alexandre. “There was more work to do here that I could have hoped for and when Mr. Ferrand proposed a partnership, I readily accepted.”
Today Alexandre is Chairman and majority owner of Maison Ferrand, which is headquartered in the 18th century Chateau de Bonbonnet he purchased from Cognac Martell. He is looking both back at tradition and forward to revive lost methodologies and ideas.
Having put so much time and effort into expanding the distribution of Pierre Ferrand, Alexandre has chosen to pursue his next goal: revitalizing artisanal spirits that are a part of French Heritage. His mission has taken him to remote corners of France where he has found producers in Calvados and Armagnac who are committed and passionate about the true character of their spirits.
He says, "To produce a great Cognac you have to start with the very best grapes, then distil slowly, in a small copper still, and wait many years for it to age in old oak casks. There is no short cut. It takes great care and patience to make an exceptional spirit but it makes a world of difference and the result tastes so much better that it’s worth it. This patience has always been our mission at Ferrand and in retrospect, when I think of my role model, I feel that my grandfather would be very proud of what we have done with our farm."
The Tercinier family has been established in the Cognac region for 500 years. Since the 1990s, the production side of the family company has been under the control of Louis and the commercial side by his sister, Catherine.
Catherine will return to the second edition of Cognac Show to sample her family's Cognacs, and will lead a 'Meet the Makers' masterclass where she plans to sample a very special Cognac: Hommage Lot 40, aged 77 years in cask.
Cyril Godet is in charge of business development for his family's long-standing (almost 500 year-old) business - Cognac Godet. With his two brothers, he represents the 15th generation of Godet.
Godet is exported around the world across a network of 60 national distributors and aims to express Cognac's multiple terroir and emotions through a portfolio of varied, traditional & modern Cognacs. Some of Cyril's regional responsibilities include America, Europe and the Middle East. He continues to grow the family business and share with the world what his family has been crafting for centuries.
As the perfect voice for Godet, Cyril will be at Cognac Show along with his brother Maxime sharing his family's story and sampling some of the house's best hand-made works.
Born in 1962, Eric Forget obtained a degree in Oenology following military service in Germany as an officer. He first worked in Cognac for Prince Hubert de Polignac/Reynac in 1985 where he was in charge of the Pineau des Charentes production (leader of this market).
He was then Cellar Master for Monnet for 3 years. Following the acquisition of Monnet in 1991 by Hennessy, he became responsible for the liaison between Hennessy and their suppliers (wine growers/distillers). He was also a member of the Hennessy tasting team.
In 1999, Eric Forget joined Hine Cognac as the Cellar Master and consequently also became Production Manager. Bernard Hine who “officially” retired at the end of 2001 spent his last few years at Hine passing on the ultimate secrets of the Hine philosophy and his art of blending to Eric.
Today Eric is responsible for assembling the exceptional blends of Hine Cognac and for nurturing as they age, their valuable casks of Jarnac matured and Early Landed Grande Champagne Vintage Cognacs. He was joined in 2017 by Deputy Cellar Master Pierre Boyer.
He is also Director of the Hine estates and vineyards (Grande and Petite Champagne) which he manages together with Pierre Boyer.
Guillaume Le Dorner
Guillaume hails from Brittany, France and now resides in Cognac where he co-owns and manages one of the most prestigious Cognac bars in the world, Bar Luciole.
Guillaume gained critical acclaim and recognition while working as a bartender in London. When deciding to move back to France in 2017, drinks guru Tony Conigliaro and him decided to open a bar together in Cognac.
Skilled with amazing knowledge in cocktails (and spirits in general) and an unbelievable palate, do not hesitate to ask for him for a chat at the show; he is genuinely a Cognac cocktail expert.
Luc Merlet is Commercial & Marketing Director for Distillerie Merlet & Fils. He is the 5th generation of distillers in the family with his brother Pierre.
Luc graduated with a masters degree of Agronomy, and a masters degree of business management. He has 12 years of experience in sales and marketing and manages the brand strategy for the family company and oversees the distribution networks of their brand in 30 countries.
Marc was introduced to good quality fine chocolate from a very early age when his French grandmother would treat him to the finest chocolates made by Gaston Lenôtre when she visited him in London. He was fascinated by the great varieties in tastes and textures and admired the creativity of M. Lenôtre whom he would later meet personally during his training as a Chocolatier.
His quest started with in-depth training at the prestigious Maison Lenôtre in Paris, where he was taught by world Masters and acquired the fine art of making artisan chocolates. He further fine-tuned his expert skills by learning with a number of Master Chocolatiers in France. From the outset, his vision was to create exquisite hand-made chocolates, which are inspired by his cultural background, and the inspiration he seeks from the surrounding community.
His culture and experiences have inspired him to make the finest quality chocolates containing a wealth of superior ingredients sourced to the highest standards to ensure only the best is used, that on tasting will transport you back to magical experiences you have had and exotic places you have dreamed about.
These exquisite flavours will trigger your aspirations and have you marvelling at the combinations we use to tantalise your taste buds.
As well as freshly hand-making his fine chocolates for sale through the online boutique, Marc was commissioned by Fortnum & Mason within just one year, to be the only permanently named and featured chocolatier within the store. He has created the 'Fortnum & Mason Bespoke Selection' of chocolates using a variety of the famous store's exclusive ingredients with exciting new flavours regularly being created and introduced.
"My chocolates are derived from pure passion. Passion for the traditional artisan craft and passion for the perfection of my finished product. This I bring to you with an explosion of contemporary flavours that will stimulate your imagination and make you want to experience the full collection of artisan delights. I command only the highest quality raw ingredients and select the finest cocoa butter to create a smooth chocolate that you can enjoy anytime. A taste sensation."
After pursuing an international career, Maxime returned to the family harbor La Rochelle a few years ago to pursue the family quest of transforming nature into culture.
With very different paths, personal backgrounds and education, the Godet brothers bring creativity, sensibility and passion into the family venture which has recently celebrated 430 years of official existence.
The brother' mission is to spread the great blends crafted by their father and other brother, Jean Edouard Godet.
Noé Tesseron belongs to the fourth generation to have joined the family properties, Tesseron Cognac and Chateau Pontet-Canet in 2018. After having completed a masters degree in Cross Cultural Marketing & Negotiations, and having had many experiences in the New-York, Hong Kong and London wine & spirits trade, he now brings his own vision and energy to perpetuate and develop his family’s legacy.
Along with his father Alfred, his sister Justine and his two cousins Melanie and Philippine, he travels the world to share his passion for the family’s productions, revealing to wine and spirit lovers the unique philosophy and process behind each bottle, from the biodynamic winemaking of Pontet-Canet to the art of ageing and blending a unique Cognac.
Coming from a family of winegrowers and distillers in the Cognac region, Pierre Vaudon is a graduate in oenology from Reims University.
Whilst still a student, Pierre started working for François Voyer and soon became Cellar Master of this Cognac house. After eighteen years, and whilst also responsible for his family estate Vaudon, Pierre acquired François Voyer where he continues to produce exceptional, elegant Cognacs.
Sukhinder has grown up in the drinks business. In 1971 his family opened an off license in Hanwell, west London – The Nest – and both Sukhinder and his brother Rajbir helped out in the shop. Sukhinder started to collect miniature bottles of whisky and other spirits, and after progressing to full-sized bottles became well known as a buyer and seller of whisky. When his parents decided to retire, rather than take over the shop, he and his brother decided to create a new business online: The Whisky Exchange.
Over the past 19 years, The Whisky Exchange has grown from a small operation running out of the family home to being the largest specialist retailer of spirits online. Sukhinder has continued to collect whisky and now owns the world's largest collection of Port Ellen. His second passion is Cognac and his personal collection is impressive, owning more old, rare and iconic Cognacs than some of the houses possess themselves.