Growing up on a small farm in Southern Burgundy, Alexandre Gabriel traveled to Cognac as a business school student in 1989. The trip was one of several visits to small wineries across France, where Alexandre would apply his developing business acumen to advise and help grow wineries’ businesses. In Cognac, he met the Ferrands, one of the oldest winegrowing families in the region (since the 18th century). The two developed a partnership and 26 years later, Alexandre is still the passionate owner and master-blender at Maison Ferrand.
Pierre Ferrand is the company’s range of distinctive Cognacs, 100% sourced from the vineyards of Angeac, Grand Champagne in the terroir’s extremely chalky soils.
To produce the Cognacs, the distillation process occurs slowly in small pot stills, as the pressed grapes rest on unfiltered lees. The resulting eau-de-vie is collected and aged in small oak barrels kept in seven different aging cellars with varying temperatures and degrees of humidity – controlled and affected by the cellars’ thick limestone walls, various types of floor (e.g., earthen in the humid cellars; cement in the dry cellars), and location. To further add complexity, the Cognacs are aged in different oak casks with progressive levels of toasting. In the final step, fifth generation cellar masters round out the Cognac’s personality through the expert craft of blending.
A brief description of Pierre Ferrand’s range is below, ranging from mixable to savor-each-tiny-sip:
Pierre Ferrand 1840 ($40)
The “Original Formula,” recreated in the mixable style popular for old-school Cognac cocktails (e.g., juleps and punchers) of the nineteenth century. Rich and warm with fruit notes, honey, and spice.
Pierre Ferrand Ambre ($45)
Deep amber-colored. Gentle and mellow on the palate with dried apricot, soft vanilla notes, and a finish of sweet spices and almond.
Pierre Ferrand Reserve ($70)
A deep yellow hue and a rich, elegant Cognac. Complex layered flavors of dried roses, vanilla, toasted walnuts, and burnt orange peel.
Pierre Ferrand Esprit Des Dieux ($80)
A darker profile of Cognac with more “brown” flavors – warm mahogany, tobacco, black tea, and cedar wood.
Pierre Ferrand Selection Des Anges ($145)
Must take a line from the product tech sheet for this one: “The density of the Reserve has transmuted into an ethereal and beguiling brew, as if the liquid is on the verge of shifting itself into a gaseous state once again.” Aged approximately 30 years in barrel.
Pierre Ferrand Abel ($400)
Best savored and sipped slowly, this aged, reddish-hued Cognac has a many minutes-long finish with evolving notes of fig, pears, and baked apples.
Pierre Ferrand Ancestrale ($750)
A blend of the cellar’s oldest reserve cognacs (sources say nearly 70 years old). An aromatic palate with walnut, prune, leather, tobacco, and candied fruit. Encouraged to sip VERY slowly. Only 300 bottles are released per year.