Interview

Gin made from French grapes: Jean-Sébastien Robicquet about G’Vine

The French G’Vine gin from Maison Villevert is characterised by its special production process: It is produced from French grapes, which results in a fresh, soft and round flavour. The idea was born from Cîroc, the first French grape-based vodka, which Jean-Sébastien Robicquet, owner and CEO of the Maison Villevert Group, developed a few years earlier. The G’Vine portfolio consists of the centrepiece G’Vine Floraison, the three fruity gins in the JUNE by G’Vine range, as well as G’Vine Nouaison and G’Vine Nouaison Reserve.

We spoke to Jean-Sébastien Robicquet about the products and their specialities, distribution in Germany by WALDEMAR BEHN and future plans for the brand.

“Les Spiritueux Français” – Tell us about Maison Villevert. When was the company founded? What was and is the idea behind it?

Jean-Sébastien Robicquet: Since establishing Maison Villevert in 2001 my team and I have been creating and producing globally successful modern premium spirits, driving entrepreneurial activity in the Cognac region where the company is based and raising the profile of French expertise and excellence across the globe. French grapes and wine are at the heart of this innovative sector.

The idea came from my development and creation of Cîroc, the very first French grape-based vodka. This then led to the creation of G’Vine Floraison; our grape-based gin and today we are proud to have created a family of gins based around the original G’Vine. My personal quest is for excellence in the world of spirits and a desire to offer original, inspiring and premium creations.

The portfolio includes numerous well-known brands. Which ones are they?

Jean-Sébastien Robicquet: Since 2001 Maison Villevert has created more than 10 brands that are sold across the globe. Today the portfolio includes, G’Vine, Nouaison, Nouaison Gin Reserve, June Gin, Excellia Tequila, La Quintinye Vermouth Royal, La Guilde du Cognac, Kornog, Glann Ar Mor, Gwalarn, Talbert and Grosperrin Cognac.

I’d also like to mention Gin 1495, while not commercially available this was a very significant project for the world of Gin. In 2014 we recreated a grape-based gin recipe from 1495, adapted it for today’s palate and called it Gin 1495. Each aspect of production has taken place in the grounds of Maison Villvert’s 16th century family estate that is home to the company headquarters. Villevert has a 500-year history, steeped in winemaking and distilling, this was seen as one of its latest chapters. The journey culminated at Maison Villevert’s distilling innovation centre. The team and I replicated the original recipe and created a modern interpretation and produced a limited-edition Gin 1495 pack consisting of the two variants; Verbatim, the 1495 original recipe, and Interpretatio, the modern interpretation.

Let’s talk about G’Vine: What’s special about the brand?

Jean-Sébastien Robicquet: The G’Vine brand is a family of gins and is special because instead of the traditional use of grain such as wheat and barley, this gin is made with grapes which results in a more fresh, smooth and rounded taste.

At the heart of the family we have G’Vine Floraison that contains vine flower to add floral notes. It is the only gin in the world made with grapes and vine flowers. In addition to G’Vine Floraison we have three fruit gins; JUNE Wild Peach and Summer Fruits, JUNE Royal Pear and Cardmom and the most recently launched JUNE Watermelon.

What exactly does G’Vine Floraison taste like?How do you drink it?

Jean-Sébastien Robicquet: From the start G’Vine Floraison was created to be the perfect serve for the gin and tonic you sip during those enjoyable moments when you relax and spend time with friends. The gin works well as an aperitif, in a G’Vine & tonic and in a range of refreshing cocktails.

G’Vine is elegant, subtle and floral in flavour with a smooth and luscious finish that is less harsh than other gins. Its exceptionally smooth taste is a direct result of the grape spirit and careful choice of botanicals.

The harvesting of the vine flower to add those delicate floral notes takes places one a year, in mid-June, when the vine flower blossoms for just a few days. This precious flower is immediately handpicked to preserve its elegant fragrance.

Let’s talk about the JUNE by G’Vine range: how is the lightness of summer reflected in the flavour?

Jean-Sébastien Robicquet: The JUNE by G’Vine range offers natural fruit infusions with the base of G’Vine, as I mentioned the only gin in the world made with grapes and vine flowers, offering a smoother mouth feel than a grain-based gin. Then we add natural aromas of fresh fruits and complementing aromatics to create our collection of elegant fruit gins.

The first expression in the collection is the Wild Peach and Summer Fruit, launched in 2019. In 2021 Pear and Cardamom gin was launched. Both expressions are delicate with notes of fruit and a subtle spice over a sweet background making them ideal to drink on their own over ice, with tonic, in a spritz or in a cocktail.

We announced the launch of JUNE Watermelon in January 2024 and the watermelon, with its juicy and fragrant flesh, brings a new dimension to this premium gin collection. The launch also marked the continual release of exceptional creations in the premium market of fruit gin.

For summer 2024 we are proud to launch a frozen cocktail activation across territories of France, Denmark, Spain, Portugal, Sweden and UK. The activation consists of a specially designed and branded JUNE slushie machine that we provide to our accounts alongside a collection of recipes using our three expressions of JUNE gin; Royal Peach and Summer Fruits, Wild Pear and Cardamom and Watermelon. The recipes are low ABV (around 7%) offering a refreshing gin-based cocktail alternative attractive during the summer months. Our recommended serve is JUNE Summer Crush; a combination of JUNE Watermelon with cranberry, lemon and lemonade.

Other specialities are G’Vine Nouaison and G’Vine Nouaison Reserve. Tell us about them!

Jean-Sébastien Robicquet: The original idea for the Nouaison range was to create outstanding gins for the bar sector and the creative talents of mixologists. Nouaison gin was developed from the first known recipe for gin made for enjoyment (rather than medicinal use). The recipe dates back to 1495 and was rediscovered by Maison Villevert.

The Nouaison range combines the intense flavours of botanicals with the smooth, rounded qualities of grape-based gin. Whether the classic version or the very latest creation – Nouaison Reserve, matured in cognac barrels – Nouaison gins are superb in classic cocktails such as negroni.

Who distributes the products in Germany?

Jean-Sébastien Robicquet: WALDEMAR BEHN handles Maison Villevert’s gin brand G’Vine in Germany as well as the Duty-Free market.

Which distribution channels are used to market the products?

Jean-Sébastien Robicquet: The distribution channels use to market our product in Germany are Premium on-trade listings such as the many great cocktail bars around the country. We also have excellent distribution for on-line sales with premium online retailers.

What plans do you have for G’VINE – internationally and especially on the German market?

Jean-Sébastien Robicquet: We will continue to develop the brand as a leading premium French Gin made from grapes, driven by our leading position in the Spanish market.

G’Vine | Website | Instagram | Facebook

+++ We would like to thank Jean-Sébastien Robicquet for the open and very interesting interview! If you also have an interesting brand, then we should talk. Just send us an e-mail with the subject “about-drinks interview” to redaktion@about-drinks.com – we look forward to hearing from you! +++

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