Luxury Beat: Armand de Brignac CEO Sebastien Besson On How They Keep Their Brand At The Top

Sebastien BessonPhoto Credit: Donnelly Marks

Shot on location at 357 West 17th Street, NY, NY (contact: Alyssa Soto Brody

Armand de Brignac Champagne, aka Ace of Spades, is not only one of the world’s most expensive champagnes, but it is also one of the most prestigious. From wine enthusiasts, business moguls and celebs alike, Armand de Brignac has remained at the top in the competitive winemaking industry. Aside from having a stellar product, the brand’s success can also be attributed to the man behind the scenes—CEO Sebastien Besson. Here, Besson sits down with Haute Living for a one-on-one interview in this issue’s Luxury Beat feature. The champagne aficionado shares his secrets to success, how his team keeps the brand relevant and consistently the best and how Jay-Z’s ownership has affected the brand.

HL: Armand de Brignac has amassed one of the most prestigious reputations in the winemaking world. What’s your secret to success? 

SB: Armand de Brignac has a magnetic story. A 13th-generation family vignerons with more than three centuries in champagne set on a mission to create the “best champagne possible” with the view of achieving exceptional quality at every step. The unique bottles, which are individually finished by hand, bring champagnes to clients in some of the most magical restaurants and bars around the world. Just 18 people touch a bottle from the pressing of the fruit to the release of the champagnes from the cellars, and we are incredibly proud of what the highly skilled and passionate team continues to achieve.

HL: How does Armand de Brignac stand out from its competitors? 

SB: We stay true to our own identity. Armand de Brignac entered a highly traditional prestige cuvée category dominated by big corporate brands, and it was imperative to bring something unique. We weren’t afraid to do things differently—we focused on the best of the best at every step of the winemaking process and imagined a bottle to present that would look like no other. We challenged the paradigm that prestige champagne must be heavy with decades of age, and instead, created a champagne style that allowed the exceptional quality fruit characters to be open, vibrant and shine.

HL: What marketing strategies do you find work best to appeal to your audience?

SB: At Armand de Brignac we want to bring something more to our clients than they would expect. We focus on service rituals that elevate the moment, from our new Case of Ace, which makes the customer the most important person in the room, to activities that involve personalization, where we provide clients the opportunity to customize a message inside the wooden lacquered gift box. Our clients love the extra details we focus on that ensure a very personal experience.

HL: Armand de Brignac recently released a new limited edition with the second Blanc de Noirs assemblage. Can you tell us about this specific cuvée?

SB: It is the rarest jewel we have. The most recent release, the Assemblage Two [A2], was created from the 2008, 2009 and 2010 vintages, and just 2,333 bottles were made. Each bottle is series-numbered [from 1–2,333] and shows its disgorgement date, which makes it perfect for collectors. It is also an incredible food wine, and the powerful 100-percent pinot noir can be enjoyed from the start to finish of a meal.

HL: How has partnering with a celebrity like Jay-Z increased your brand’s awareness? 

SB: It has been an exciting journey since Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter took ownership of the brand in 2014. For the Cattier family of winemakers who had been crafting the cuvées since their inception, it validated that what they had been doing was very special. The guidance to the winemaking team today is to make the very best champagne possible. It is a wonderful mission for any winemaker to have the freedom and encouragement to create and push boundaries.

Armand de BrignacPhoto Credit: Armand de Brignac