Meet Sebastien Besson, the CEO of Jay Z's Champagne brand, Armand de Brignac (AKA Ace of Spades)...
WHAT ARE YOU UP TO AT THE MOMENT?
I was in Bordeaux for Vinepxo [a large Wine trade show] a few days ago, then went to Champagne for planning of growing, harvesting and winemaking, based on how the weather’s been.
GET HOME, FEET UP, WHAT'S IN YOUR GLASS?
Armand de Brignac Blancs de Blancs (100% Chardonnay Champagne) - it’s my absolute favourite. But I also love the new Demi-Sec (meaning 'slightly sweet'); it goes great with foie gras and is made with some of our oldest and rarest wines. It really is an exceptional Champagne. Everything single thing we do is exceptional and we knew that Demi-Secs have a bit of a reputation for not being a ‘proper’ Champagne, so we had to really do something very special.
IF YOU WERE A DRINK WHAT WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
Dirty martini - don’t ask!
YOU CAN CHOOSE ANYONE TO TAKE A SEAT NEXT TO YOU AT THE BAR - WHO IS IT AND HOW WOULD THE NIGHT GO?
Alexander The Great and I’d ask him all about his greatest battles.
SHAKEN OR STIRRED?
Shaken - my dirty martinis must be extremely cold, so they have to be shaken.
FINALLY, WHO WOULD YOU RAISE A GLASS TO AND WHY?
Armand de Brignac himself – He is a fictional character but we wanted him to be the kind of guy who’s on first name terms with everyone he meets very quickly...
** EXTENDED INTERVIEW ** SEBASTIEN GIVES US SOME EXTRA INSIGHT INTO THE BRAND AND HAVING JAY Z AS YOUR BOSS:
WHAT'S THE BACKGROUND OF THE BRAND AND HOW DID IT BECOME SO POPULAR WITH THE STARS?
The brand has existed since the 1950s, but we changed to being an ultra-premium brand in 2006. Jay has loved the Champagne ever since we relaunched, and he acquired the company last year. As soon as the bottles appeared in his videos, sales went through the roof as you can imagine.
DO YOU WORK CLOSELY WITH JAY Z? IS HE HANDS-ON WITH PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, LIKE THE FLAVOUR PROFILE OF THE CHAMPAGNE?
Well we’re all in the same office building in New York; the recording company and Armand de Brignac. He is very involved and he’s a great boss to have! So incredibly talented in so many areas yet so completely humble. He chose the finish on the logos on the new Blancs de Noirs bottles. He really cares about the brand and getting everything perfect – he wants a product he can be really proud of.