Annual sales cognac: Approx. six million bottles
Buys wine/eaux-de-vie from: All six wine regions
Vineyards of its own: 450 acres in Borderies

 

Camus is the largest family-owned cognac house and ranks as number five in size. The house has its roots in the delimited region of Borderies and during its more than 150-year-old history it has experienced both spectacular successes and dramatic setbacks. The family bond is strong and it has always been a Camus who has managed the firm, for five generations now. Camus is a producer with a solid reputation and three out of four bottles sold belong to the upper price segment. Camus is present worldwide and the two main markets are China and Duty Free sales.

 

P1Jean-Baptiste Camus (1835-1901) was a wine-grower, a cooper and a distiller (bouilleur de cru). In 1863 he became the leading promoter of the formation of the consortium La Grande Marque, an association of producers who wanted to break away from the dependence of the powerful cognac wholesalers. By 1870 La Grande Marque had established themselves in the large UK market and 7,000 casks were shipped to London that year. In the following decades the Scandinavian countries also became large importers. In 1890 Jean-Baptiste Camus bought out his partners and became the sole owner of the brand.

Gunnar Svedberg talks with Jean-Paul Camus.

At the turn of the century his sons Edmond (1859-1933) and Gaston (1865-1945) took over and soon the family name had as much space as La Grande Marque on the labels. It would take until the end of the 1940s before the original brand was given a clearly subordinate role.

In 1932, only 21 years old, Michel Camus takes over the management from his father and uncle. Michel starts off by building up the brand’s domestic status, quite important as the sales in France at this time was significant, but he also realizes that the house must succeed in the export markets if the company is to survive. Around 1960 the company experiences a major boost in the sales when Michel Camus first manages to secure a very valuable contract with the then Soviet Union and then enjoys a great success with an early focus on duty-free sales at airports in the Pacific.

Camus has always had its own vineyards. The family’s estates had long been divided between Grande Champagne and Borderies but in the 1980s, the fourth generation Camus, Jean-Paul, made the strategic decision to sell off the vineyards in Grande Champagne, and, in return, purchase more land and extend the estate in Borderies. A wise move as it turned out. Wine and eaux-de-vie from this, the smallest cru of the Cognac region, are today much sought after and currently as expensive as those from Grande Champagne. The 110-acre property from grandfather Gaston’s time has now expanded to 450 acres of vineyards, one of the largest estates of Borderies, all of them in the immediate vicinity of Jean-Paul Camus’ private residence La Gîte.

 

P2Camus buys wine and eaux-de-vie from all crus, including Bons Bois and Bois à Terroirs, although Borderies is the wine district which lies closest to the family’s heart. Cyril Camus, the fifth generation and the current manager, emphasizes the words diversité and typicité, i.e. the importance of the typical characteristics of each wine region and the need to preserve and take advantage of these differences of floweriness, fruitiness and ageing potentials.

 

 


”There is nothing easier than to make cognac. All you need is a father, a grandfather

and a great-grandfather who made cognac before you.”

P3

Camus is a creative and innovative house with some unique products in its range. Besides the classic qualities VS, VSOP, XO and Extra, Camus offers an XO Borderies made of wine from their own vineyards. It is a velvety, rich and intense cognac with pronounced fruitiness and flowery notes. Quite unique is the series of three cognacs from the island of Ile de Ré. For the cognac lover with an open mind Cliffside Cellar may be a discovery. This cognac has been stored in the tourist attraction Fort de la Prée on the east side of the island, within a stone’s throw of the sea, and is a soft and fruity cognac with a hint of saltiness in the aftertaste.

Camus also sells a few exclusive vintages, including a non-reduced Petite Champagne from 1972. The presence of eau-de-vie from Borderies is noticeable in all cognacs of the higher range. The house’s two XO:s are of very high quality and honours every bar cabinet with their presence.

This is an abridged version of a translation of pages 60–63 of the Swedish book Cognac – kungen av eau-de-vier (Cognac – the king of eaux-de-vie) © Stevali Production and Gunnar Svedberg, 2014.
© Gunnar Svedberg 2015-11-04

 

 

 

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