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By Emma Reynolds | March 15 2019
Wine and spirits aficionado, Brent Hocking, got his name in the industry when he left the financial world in pursuit of a career in spirits. In 2006, he founded DeLeón Tequila (later selling the brand to Diageo and Sean “Diddy” Combs) and Virginia Black Whiskey with rapper Drake in 2016. This year, he launched his first-ever champagne: Mod Sélection Réserve and Rosé, also in partnership with Drake. The entrepreneur speaks to Elite Traveler about the nuances of the spirits world versus the champagne world, his specific genre of luxury spirits and the trends defining the industry.
What I’m doing with champagne is very much in line with what I did in tequila. [With DeLeón], I partnered with a family who had been producing a high-quality product for generations but never exported to the US. I came in and furthered their tradition and technique by selecting only the most pure, mature and superior quality agave available, which resulted in a supremely pure and unadulterated product. This is exactly what I’m doing with our vines in Champagne, France.
I’ve always been a wine and spirits aficionado. Originally, I set out to produce a wine but quickly saw a hole in the high-end tequila market. This was well over a decade ago. When the opportunity for DeLéon presented itself, I took control of the distillery, production and barrel aging. The rest is history.
Champagne was always part of the plan, it just takes a long time to do it right. There will be more spirits, but now is the perfect time for this champagne.
Mod Sélection is truly a superior still-wine at its core. It’s the type of champagne that drinks just as well throughout an entire four-course dinner as it does during a night out. A champagne that you can literally drink glass after glass after glass after glass without any of the negative heavy after-effects common in so many champagnes.
Our facility is in the Vallée de la Marne. I was introduced by traveling there. Champagne — as you know — is a blended product, so our grapes come from all over the region and we select only the best of each vineyard, harvest and vintage to fit our desired taste profile and house style.
Years of quality control and research. We’ve tasted almost everything side-by-side against our portfolio of ten variants. Side-by-side competitive tasting is really the best type of research you can do.
The biggest challenges in champagne are the ever-changing variables of vintages. Some years are good. Some not so much. You can’t control nature. Fortunately, we’ve come to market at an excellent time – 2018 was the best harvest we’ve seen in decades. That’s exciting.
I honestly don’t give them much thought. There will always be haters. It’s part of the industry. But I really don’t have much to say to that segment at all. I know I can let the champagne stand for itself. If anyone thinks this is just a celebrity vanity project, try a glass. I implore you. It will only take a matter of moments before you realize the caliber and quality of this product.
Luxury with an edge is really an appreciation of all the things I’m most passionate about: good music, fashion and high-quality wine and spirits. All those things intersect for me in a very raw and authentic way. That’s luxury with an edge to me.
People are really much more educated than they used to be. Consumers want quality products and quality liquid, and they’re willing to go out of their way to pay for it. There was a time when the industry thought they could put anything into a bottle and sell it with good marketing and branding. That formula doesn’t work anymore. The consumer won’t fall for it. It’s not just about the bottle or the brand anymore. It has to be about what’s inside, the quality of the liquid and the mastery behind the juice.
Let’s just say I never stray far from my roots — if that’s any indication. The rest you’ll just have to wait and see.
Mod Réserve Champagne, $300; Mod Rosé Champagne, $400, modselectionchampagne.com