SB meets… Dimitri Nalin, Rome de Bellegarde CognacBy Alice Brooker
Global brand director of Rome de Bellegarde Cognac Dimitri Nalin shares his thoughts on Cognac’s current reputation and revival, and explains why Bellegarde will not dilute its brand to appeal to a wider consumer base.
How is your family legacy incorporated into the brand?
Our family legacy has led the revival of Rome de Bellegarde Cognac, from the constant search for excellence to delegating each family member of the team a specific task to further the interest of the brand globally. Our family and our business share the same values, which are passion, integrity and innovation.
In recent news, 150 decanters of Rome de Bellegarde designed by artist Ghass Rouzkhosh were released. What inspired the brand to collaborate with an artist?
Art is key to our mixed-heritage family, and as art collectors we believe that art is the greatest connector and source of inspiration for humankind. We have some very exciting plans to collaborate with globally recognised artists, some who are still alive and some who have already left us. More will be shared in the coming months – watch this space.
In the US, certain Cognac brands are represented by celebrities. Is the reputation of Cognac transforming permanently or is this a fad?
We believe the US and Africa to be very different markets for Cognac brands compared with the rest of the world, but in the ultra-premium spirits space we are confident that it will keep growing as the number of millionaires and billionaires is still rising year on year. Celebrity endorsements are something we are also considering, but only with someone that is aligned with our family legacy and values.
Is a revival of Cognac on the horizon?
Absolutely. It’s thanks to ultra-premium whiskies, which have pushed price boundaries like never before and almost forced spirit enthusiasts to increase their interest for other alternatives. Cognac has been one of the main benefactors from this new trend.
What lies ahead for the future of the Cognac industry?
All indicators seem to indicate that the Cognac industry is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.5% from 2020 to 2027, from a valuation at US$3.88 billion in 2019. We also believe luxury Cognac brands will grow faster than other Cognac brands due to the rise of the experiential luxury market.
Does Rome de Bellegarde have any forthcoming product releases planned?
Yes, we are planning to launch an expression that will become our signature. It will be available in seven sizes, but we are waiting to see how things develop with the Covid-19 crisis to schedule our launch.
With Bellegarde Cognac being so established in the luxury spirits world, and known for being one of the most expensive Cognacs in the world, are there plans for the brand to expand its consumer base?
We have plans to expand but we are not willing to dilute our brand simply to grow our customer base. We believe this can happen by staying true to our values and by leveraging strategic brand collaborations to attract new customers. We are also planning to be distributed globally andwe will soon be available in more than150 countries.
How does the brand honour its historic roots, being founded in the 1700s, while still moving forward to appeal to new drinkers?
We are very proud of our historic roots, but being the new generation of Bellegarde we want to be aligned with the new generation of drinkers’ expectations. Creatively, we always try to unite both the old and the new, and this can be seen with our logo, our bottle shapes, our packaging, and even in our marketing. This is probably what makes us so unique in the Cognac category. As a brand we pay homage to King Francis I – who birthed the Renaissance era in France – by our use of the salamander in our logo.