COBALTE VODKA | INTERVIEW WITH FOUNDER VALENTIN LEFEBVRE
For a market swamped with choice, a real artisan vodka will still stand out.
Created in the Champagne region in France, Cobalte Vodka is created from the gloriously rich grapes that are grown there.
The region is renowned and celebrated for it’s vineyards, and it wasn’t long before their potential was fully utilised for the enjoyment of others.
Strong and striking product design, paired with a crisp and clean taste of crystal clear vodka – makes this a newly-released product set to make waves.
We speak to Valentin Lefebvre, Founder and Creative Director of Cobalte Vodka, about his new venture:
What were the first steps in creating your own brand of vodka?
The first step was to develop and distill a vodka that reflected us. We were really looking to develop a high quality product based on an internationally recognized expertise.
With the grapes especially from Champagne in France, can you tell us more about your vineyard?
For me what is special about our vineyard can be broken down into various distinct features: the geographical location of the Champagne vineyards and the dual climatic influence there, both oceanic and continental. The calcareous soil maintains humidity and freshness to better irrigate the vine. The majority of the champagne vineyards are planted on hillsides, and this exposure to the sun provides optimal photosynthesis.
What is the fermentation process like to create vodka from grapes?
Cobalte vodka is distilled a total of 5 times, using a process developed by master distillers… As far as the other steps are concerned, we never give specific details in order to preserve our “secret” recipe.
Do grapes have any special properties?
We use three grape varieties from the Champagne Ardenne region (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier), which give character, a fruity note with a touch of astringency, and reveal a lightness and sweetness.
Where did the idea to create your own brand of vodka come from?
We used to export Champagne grape seed for pharmaceutical companies in Asia. When working with local suppliers in Champagne Ardenne, we did some research and found out that it was possible to distil the grapes to make high quality vodka. Having worked with this product for many years and as I love my local region, I started looking into this possibility.
What was missing in the vodka industry that you felt you could create?
What was missing were the smaller players, that can be both close to the consumers’ needs, and connoisseurs, in a sector where it is increasingly difficult to find players on a human scale. A few large groups share a large portion of the market. We wanted to give a human dimension to this product.
Did you study business, or work in the beverage industry before you started Cobalte?
I haven’t done a lot of studies, it was never really my thing. I studied at the most renowned school that trains wine-growers in Champagne, and then did two years at a business school in Montpellier, where I was quite bored. I never really liked working as an employee either, which is why I decided to start up my first business with my friends Kim and Maxime at just 24 years old.
Who is the Cobalte client ?
The profile of a Cobalte client is a someone, man or woman, from 25 to 45 years old, living in the city and who appreciates high- quality products. They are modern, curious and attentive to what is happening around them, and they love the good things in life.
What is the best way to enjoy Cobalte vodka? On the rocks?
Indeed, Cobalte vodka is mainly enjoyed “on the rocks”, as a shot or in a cocktail.
As a relatively new brand, what are some challenges you have faced with the business?
As a new and independent French brand we have had to make ourselves known and position our brand in an ultra-premium niche. The second challenge has been to be referenced in major distribution networks in order to be listed with the targeted suppliers,
without which we come up against existing contracts between big brands and the various distribution points, be they bars, clubs, or restaurants.
Where is Cobalte currently distributed to? Where can we find it?
Cobalte is currently distributed exclusively in a few places in Paris, in the Champagne Ardenne region and on the island of St. Barts in the Caribbean.
We are working now on expanding our distribution network to a national level, which will enable us to meet the demand. The aim is always to position ourselves in places that correspond to our product.
What can we expect from Cobalte vodka in the future? Any collaborations, new flavours or design?
Indeed, there are projects in progress, including a collaboration coming up with a big French brand. However, we have no plans to create a range of flavours, as would many of our competitors. We have managed to develop a fine and high quality product, we do not want to distort it. We are currently working on a very special set which would allow clients to choose their own flavours themselves using the original Cobalte Vodka. This set will be sold only to our most loyal customers or by invitation on our future online sales platform.
For more, visit www.cobaltevodka.com