In the News
Moyet: The ‘Antiquary’ Negociant Of Cognac
by Per-Henrik Mansson - The Wine Spectator
( … ) That’s the lucky thing for discriminating connoisseurs. They can now find old Moyet cognacs for sale that would probably have been drunk decades ago if the company had been a thriving enterprise. But today Moyet cognacs stand out even against the best. Just ask sommeliers as Richard Coraine of the St. James Club in Los Angeles, a haven for after-dinner-cigar-and-cognac crowd because the restaurant features a selection of about 60 Cognacs and 14 different cigar brands. “Moyet is the most brilliant cognac I have,” said Coraine. “What they have is the essence of Cognac.”
( … ) Since 1864, when Moyet was founded, many of its brandies were made from wine delivered by the same local growers, who have worked for generations for Moyet, “it’s what allows to have a continuity in quality.”
( … ) Moyet commitment to traditional production methods shows up in its cognacs in the form of a “house” style. Moyet makes rather rich, almost oily cognacs, showing floral or earthy tones, which turn to classic, musky notes in the old bottlings. The best Moyet cognacs display a multidimensional symphony of aromas, from delicate rose petals to the more pronounced aromas of almonds, hazlnuts, chocolate and vanilla. “With Moyet, you get the straight thing without any makeup”
( … ) Moyet covers its corks with wax seals. Labels on older bottlings include the number of the cask from which the cognac came, the number of bottles produced from this cask and a number designating that specific bottle in the serie.
Cognac Moyet: A Rare and Treasured Spirit
The cognac market has traditionally been dominated by a few brand names, but now a range of boutique spirits produced on a smaller scale using more traditional methods, are making an impact. Prominent among these is Moyet cognac, founded in 1864, and launched 15 years ago onto the fiercely competitive international market by directeur général Pierre H. Dubarry. His biggest challenge has been to maintain the boutique image, well founded in France, whilst establishing an international reputation. Here he tells Asian Hotel & Catering Times the secret of his success.
AHCT: Where has the traditional market for Moyet cognac been?
PHD: Our first and preferate market has of course been France. More than 95 per cent of cognac has been exported - mostly by the major houses - but they have largely ignored the domestic market. That’s where we saw our chance and so we got into most of the best restaurants, into 450 Nicolas wine shops and most of the retailers domestically.
AHCT: How then have you managed to establish such a healthy reputation worldwide?
PHD: We now export to 35 countries and we place our spirits with specialists like Watson’s Wine Cellars in Hong Kong , Italthai Cellars in Bangkok , or les Celliers d’ Asie in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. However our reputation has been spread by word of mouth within the F&B community. The fact that Moyet Cognac is stocked in the best restaurants and hotels is a great advantage. Our real target are connoisseurs : people who recognise the quality of Moyet cognac when they see it on the wine lists of restaurants like Petrus in Hong Kong’s Island Shangri-la or the Normandie in the Oriental Bangkok. This is how we have built the brand. For a time it seemed that the strategy was not being as effective as we hoped but then Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) chose Moyet as their exclusive cognac. It was the first time that a small producer was appointed and it was a coup because SAS has such a good reputation for quality.
AHCT: The high quality of your cognac is based on your exceptional reserves of antique spirtits. Doesn’t international expansion threaten those treasured and irreplaceable reserves?
PHD: Even though we have enjoyed great success, we have substantial reserves and there is no threat to the quality of our products. Boutique houses like ours produce prestige products in smaller volumes and do not swamp the market with average spirtits. But we do not sell our very old cognacs in the way that we do our younger ones. We have quotas for the antique cognacs that are, as you say, treasured by our consumers. But it’s not just about age. We use artisanal methods which distinguish our products from mass-produced cognacs. Our keys are patience and devoted hands-on attention : they always have been and they will be for a long time to come.
Touch of class
Premium Cognac Moyet has gained a listing with SAS, the scandinavian airline company. General manager Pierre Dubarry explained: “SAS decided to select its Cognacs as top restaurants do, and not only though major brands. This new process, still exceptional for an airline, automatically entered Moyet into the tender. Perhaps a touch of luck but certainly our quality has let our Fine Champagne VSOP and Borderies XO past four successive blind tests.”
Moyet is available in around 1,900 restaurants and 250 wineshops in Paris. Dubarry said that Moyet had always refused to work with supermarkets to avoid compromising the brand’s exclusive image.
The depth and grandeur of a fine cognac
A few days ago, as I finished a kind of business lunch in a pleasant restaurant, the chef told me that he wanted to introduce me to someone. Why not? Monsieur Pierre Dubarry, he said, motioning toward a gentleman with a face that reminded me of some elegant French actor.
Half a dozen other men were sitting in front of an impressive array of glasses of cognac. They all looked happy. I promptly understood why. Mr Dubarry is the directeur general of the famous Cognac Moyet. We are not talking industrial cognac, the kind of stuff some people like to mix with Seven Up and an ice cube. We are talking grandeur and depth. We are talking passion and masterpieces.
It was not always so. Founded in 1864, the Etablissements Moyet enjoyed a bit of fame in the early days of the 20th century, before sinking into the small sea of undistinguished distilleries that exist in the region. The original owners were smart enough, though, to keep a vast amount of the finest cognac made in better days. Not a few dozen bottles, but hundreds of barrels of some of the greatest cognac made in the days of Monsieur Moyet. Let’s make a big jump in time. In 1979, two friends, Marc George and Pierre Dubarry bought the old Moyet distillery.
Better still, the wife of Monsieur George was a grand-niece of the original owners. In the cellars the friends found large reserve of “exceptionally well made cognac,” said Pierre Dubarry.
The discovery came at a time when people started to be interested in old cognac - really old. More than 50 years. The new owners had a treasure at their feet. And soon amateurs discovered the wonderful virtues of old age: wisdom, smoothness, incredible depth, mellowness and beauty. And here, in front of me, was Monsieur Dubarry, with a small chest of treasures, ready to let us taste what soon proved to be more a liquid made by the gods than a mere post-dinner drink.
First a young Fins Bois, he said. The liquid was clear, the colour of shy caramel, almost fruity, and a kid at perhaps only three years of age. But what a kid! Then came a Petite Champagne. About seven years of age. A hint of grandeur, like a pretty woman with an ironic and irresistable smile.
From now on the ascent toward paradise was as smooth as silk. Until Monsieur Dubarry opened a small bottle that reminded me of old fashioned medicine bottle rather than a flask of cognac.
Here is cognac aged at least 60 years, and more. The colour was a dark caramel and the nose as sweet as the breasts of an Apsara, the sacred dancers of the days of Angkor. It was the gentlest and most profound cognac I have ever drank. I didn’t even dare to ask how much a bottle would cost. I still remember the flavour of the few sips of Romance Conti I drank in the ’60s. It represented the essence of everything that was great in wine. The memory of this cognac will linger with me for the rest of my life.
A rare moment when I touched heaven.
Later the tasting moved to a more commercial and crowded venue. They had asked me to come. There was a big shock waiting me: I was handed a glass of Fins Bois mixed with ginger ale and plenty of ice. What had they done to my fine cognac? A Thai senior diplomat, invited to the tasting, later told me: “Why the ginger ale? Do they think that Asians cannot enjoy the pure beauty of a good cognac? Or would they just do anything for money?” He had a good point.
I quickly forgot the ginger ale, preferring to dream of the Tres Vieille Fine Champagne (if that is the name of that incredible sip), and of the lovely and shapely Apsara.