Augier: Cognac’s oldest company revived by Pernod Ricard

Monday November 30 2015 by Vitisphere

Our mission is to draw attention to the fact that Cognac is an exploration category. The aim is to reconnect with spirits connoisseurs whose education has come from other product categories, such as rum and whisky”, explained Benjamin Audon, marketing director of Maison Augier on November 20 during a press trip to Charente when the company’s strategy was revealed. The marketing blueprint is less idealistic than it seems and is supported by the company’s history – it is the oldest Cognac company – and a technical concept that has been streamlined to the extreme to recreate an authentic 17th century Cognac.

In the distillery, this involves blending a small number of brandies, implying variations in the range, filtering at room temperature (and not cold filtering), lack of additives (oak, caramel and syrups) and an extremely rigorous tracking system, centralised by the Maine du Bois distillery. The ethos behind the Cognac comes in response to “increasing demand for transparency in the various production processes and a revival of a type of artisan method”, pointed out Benjamin Audon, who previously studied consumer trends in wines and spirits for the Pernod Ricard group.   

Focusing on authenticity, the range revolves around a three-pronged strategy of single varietal, single growth and lees volume during distillation. Hence, the Augier range comprises three Cognacs or ‘expressions’: Océanique (Ugni blanc from Bois Ordinaires on the Ile d’Oléron distilled from clear wines with 0 to 2% lees), Singulier (Folle Blanche from Grande Champagne distilled with natural lees, from 2 to 6%) and Sauvage (Ugni blanc from Petite Champagne distilled with higher lees content, from 7 to 15%). This broad range of variations is mirrored in the highly articulate labels, including information such as blending dates and alcohol content, which varies respectively from 40.1 and 41.7 to 40.8%.

This novel yet consistent marketing approach is being tested in the French market, which accounts for less than 1% of Cognac sales. “It is an unusual challenge”, admits Maxime Mathon, sales director at Augier. “But from the word go, we wanted to reconcile French consumers with Cognac by conversing in a language they are familiar with, i.e. wines”. After being launched in specialist wine merchants and the on-trade in September, Augier Cognac has also targeted the United Kingdom and is aiming to cross the Atlantic soon, bound for the USA. The portents are good because the company was recently awarded the New York International Competition prize for ‘the best new brand of Cognac in 2015’. It may seem ironic for a company that was founded 372 years ago but it sums up Augier’s identity pretty well.

Its current production is limited to 10,000 cases and the aim is to continue on a boutique scale. In France, the recommended retail price ranges from 55 to 69 euros a bottle.
 

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