Transmission is essential in Cognac, home to a time-honored winegrowing heritage where wine spirits sit patiently in cellars for several decades until the master blenders work their magic. Throughout history, the region’s young people have followed in the footsteps of their predecessors or carved out a new route altogether. Belonging to the fourth generation of a winegrowing family from Saint-Saturnin, nine kilometres from Angoulême, Frédéric Bourgoin chose an intermediary third path, as he explained to journalist Yohan Castaing.
Holder of a BTS (advanced vocational diploma) in viticulture and oenology and a marketing degree from INSEEC Bordeaux, Frédéric Bourgoin began his career in sales and traveled the world. “After completing an internship at a company specialized in distributing spirits in Vietnam, I was invited to join a large group. I sold various products, including Cognac, to an ultra-premium clientèle.”
But the thirty-something bearded Charentais dreamed of going independent and developing his own brand. His homecoming provided the ideal opportunity. “However, I didn’t want to reproduce the family model. I wanted to sell my own Cognac. When it was time to take the reins, I proceeded by trial and error, then quickly targeted young chefs in the bistronomic sector who advocate a ‘natural’ approach. The idea of a family estate spoke to them. And I enjoyed working with them. It was a good match.”
Frédéric Bourgoin didn’t study marketing for nothing. He chose to bottle his Cognacs in containers which resemble the apothecary flasks of yesteryear. They are adorned with a large label which he designed himself. Extra-large typography, huge swathes of black and white: the streamlined and eye-catching aesthetic is both authentic and contemporary. Above all, it serves a purpose: “It needs to be seen to be drank”, he tells us.
He also has other ideas for the bottles’ contents. “My style? Wine spirits aged for twenty years in barrels heated at a high temperature during the so-called toasting phase to surprise French Cognac consumers, beginners and connoisseurs alike. I like to guide them: the labels indicate the GPS coordinates of the vine plots and detail the winemaking and distillation process.” In 2015, he sold 250 bottles; today, he sells nearly 20,000. They are all intended for France, which he considers an up-and-coming market. No bars, only restaurants.
Working alongside his sister, he hopes his idea will catch on and inspire other winegrowers, particularly the younger generation. “Nowadays, we can operate on both levels. Personally, I bottle half of my production and sell the other half to a major négociant. Thanks to social media, it has become easier to promote our products. It also allows us to maintain good relations with négociants while seizing new opportunities to develop our activities. It’s really exciting!”
14 rue du Puits 16290 Saint-Saturnin
+33 (0)6 81 59 71 72 – bourgoincognac.com