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Smaller Cognac companies consider place in the market

Faced with the might of the large Cognac houses, smaller producers are considering how to broaden their appeal among consumers.

For Jérôme Tessendier, director general of Tessendier & Fils, the answer lies in the popularity of small batch spirits and cocktails.

“When facing the big names we have to ask, ‘what can we bring to the market?’,” Tessendier told the drinks business.

“So we decided to present more artisanal, hand-crafted projects, single cask vintages and limited editions.

“We want to bring a sense of wonder from the cellar where we keep our oldest Cognacs and put it into the bottle.

“This was the answer, something special, emotive and distinctive. People want something special for themselves or as a gift. The story behind it is important as well.”

There has been quite a lot of talk surrounding Cognac cocktails recently as houses seek ways to lure younger drinkers in the US and Europe back to the spirit.

Tessendier said that it was something they were working on with their VS and VSOP spirits.

He added that it shouldn’t be anything more complex as one had to accept that once the spirit goes into a cocktail, “your product disappears.”

“You’re not selling your Cognac anymore,” he continued, “it’s the creator’s product.

“What they do is complex but when they have my product in their hands, it’s no longer my product.”

Another angle being explored, and one Tessendier were showing at the recent Vinexpo, is Cognac and caviar matching.

Tessendier is a long-time friend of Micelin-starred chef Thierry Verrat. At the show they offered three small caviar dishes paired with different Cognacs that had been chilled.

Verrat explained that the idea was for Cognac to take the place of the more traditional vodka and that by chilling the Cognac, one cuts the alcoholic intensity and the taste buds opened up more.

“You need to accept that Cognac is part of the combination,” added Tessendier.

“It’s not Cognac anymore but Cognac/caviar. You expand the flavours of the caviar with the Cognac.”

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