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."