As expected, I went behind the scenes with François Thibault, the Creator and Cellar Master of GREY GOOSE to gain an insight into the vision behind the creation of the finest Vodka and learned of the exquisite French craftsmanship and artisanry that goes into each and every bottle. Talking about an elite experience…
When not participating in tours, masterclasses and relaxed dining experiences, I would help myself to breakfast or lunch in the elegant, rustic old kitchen (“armed” with the absolute best ingredients to play with , enjoy a signature cocktail by the pool or Le Salon, explore the local vineyards by bike (the most gorgeous retro bikes I have ever seen by St Germain, fell in love with them!) and when it got dark, I would then play a round of Pétanque with my new friends (and scream out like a kiddo). Yes, it was a tremendously good trip, very cinematic, one I shall never forget.
Opened in August 2014 in recognition of its creator François Thibault’s momentous decision to create a vodka of exceptional quality and taste in the Cognac region of France, using the finest French ingredients, Le Logis is located in the heart of the Cognac region, which is renowned for creating the world’s finest wines and spirits, and where François Thibault was born and raised.
Roughly 90 minutes by car from the Bordeaux airport, in the hamlet of Julliac le Coq, which is dominated by lush grape vines and old farmhouses.The property is a traditional French manor house that dates back to the 17th century and was once home to the Lords of the region. Having purchased the property in 2012, GREY GOOSE set about sensitively renovating the property and its grounds – that are overlooking the village like a friendly medieval fortress.
Did I mention that after tasting sessions (and many, many, many cocktails), I even discovered the secret to successfully creating the perfect French baguette from the local baker? Oh, I did. And ate it too.
Local craftsmen and stonemasons were commissioned to restore the outside walls and outbuildings of Le Logis to preserve the architectural heritage of the property. Expert roofers were sourced to renovate the roof turrets, involving exceptional historic artisanal know-how using skills thought to have been lost. Oak beams from the main outhouse were recycled to build furniture for the property. The grounds were carefully planted and landscaped including a greenhouse with a variety of fruits and herbs from the local countryside to provide further inspiration to François.
Within the walled gardens, herb beds and vegetable patches, I could lie down, under the branches of a centuries-old mulberry tree and sing French songs (and I am very, very, very bad at this). Or lounge by the outdoor pool, right next to the barbecue area. At first sight, this place is the kind of archetypical Gallic paradise that inspires rain-soaked Americans, Canadians and Brits to start afresh in France… If this was a French movie. But even a Greek like myself fell head over heels, refusing to leave.
The interior design was tastefully re-interpreted at Le Logis into a comfortable and contemporary chic home comprising of 14 elegantly appointed bedrooms, salon, dining room, open house kitchen, patio and outdoor swimming pool with poolside BBQ and cocktail bar. Everything is undeniably irrepressible. Down to each (carefully selected) detail.
In addition, there are a series of immersive spaces that have been created to bring to life the production of GREY GOOSE from field to bottle. Each area tells a different part of the GREY GOOSE story.
Yes. It was everything I expected from a brand with unapologetically high aspirations. And enjoyed every second of my stay, just like every sip of every signature cocktail. This immaculately restored mansion, even restored my belief that, yes, you can indeed #FlyBeyond, if you just let go of everything you thought you knew.
Epilogue: Not only has Grey Goose shifted vodka’s image as an exclusively-Soviet spirit, but it’s elevated the quality (and the whole game, really) to a level that others who have been in the same industry for much, much longer will have to struggle (like crazy) for ages to come, just to compete with.
[A big thank you goes out to Jean- Sébastien Mélot and his wife Nadia, the managers of Le Logis. As well as to François Thibault. For trusting me. And for making me feel at home. Looking forward to our next adventure!]
[All images shot with my Olympus Pen EPL-7.]