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Exclusive Interview: Mod Sélection Champagne Founder Brent Hocking

Exclusive Interview: Mod Sélection Champagne Founder Brent Hocking

Starting off in finance, one wouldn’t think would lead to founding several successful spirits companies. First DeLeon Tequila, followed by Virginia Black Whiskey and now Mod Sélection Champagne. We sat down with Founder & CEO Brent Hocking, and chatted all things Champagne, luxury and entrepreneurship.


Kimberly Fisher: How did you get started in the spirits business?

Brent Hocking: My professional career began in finance, but I had long been a wine and spirits connoisseur. I eventually decided to turn that passion into a profession. I saw various holes in the market and set out to create my own niche, creating revolutionary wine and spirits brands, which I have done with DeLéon Tequila, Virginia Black Whiskey, and Mod Sélection Champagne.

KF: What have you learned along the way?

BH: I have really learned to respect tradition across wine and spirits, but also have learned the value and power in modernization. With Mod Sélection Champagne, we are bringing a product to market in a space that is dominated by history, heritage and tradition, so it was important to be respectful of that, but at the same time, modernize our approach. Making the product shine and stand out for the beauty and elegance that is inside. I view every bottle of our Champagne like a modern work of art. I wanted to showcase this through exquisite craftsmanship, luxury artisan techniques and an attention to detail that would be brought to the forefront of Champagne.


KF:  You are the Founder of DeL
éon Tequila. Your latest project, Mod Sélection, is a champagne. What was the path from tequila to champagne?

BH: I have always been interested in Champagne, but given the nature of the wine, took my time with releasing one as I wanted to find the right house to work with. I founded DeLéon in 2009 and forever changed the landscape of barrel aging in tequila, utilizing French Sauternes Barrels instead of caramel coloring or flavoring. I selected only the most pure first quality agave and highland grown—to produce a radically pure and elegant tequila, which was revolutionary at the time when competitors were pushing quantity over quality. I sold DeLéon in 2013, and quickly turned back to my passion, wine.

During that time, I also launched Virginia Black Decadent American Whiskey, a joint venture with Drake. The brand quickly garnered a reputation as the smoothest American Bourbon whiskey on the market and earned a 91-Point Rating in Wine Enthusiast. In 2019, I officially launched Mod Sélection, the purest expression of balance and terroir produced in Champagne today. 

KF: Your latest release is of the highly allocated Vintage 2008 Mod Sélection Réserve and Mod Sélection Rosé. Tell us about the success of the 2008 harvest? 

BH: The 2008 harvest was an exceptional year, which is why we focused so heavily on perfecting the Mod Sélection vintage. The attention to detail and selection in every aspect of our production process is what set this Champagne apart from other 2008 vintages released in 2019.


KF: What are your favorite champagne/food pairings? Any interesting ones we should know about?

BH: Mod Sélection is such an elegantly pure and versatile Champagne, you could honestly pair it with anything. The simplest of clean, light dishes to rich, developed and decadent cuisine. It all works beautifully together.

It is also worth noting that the key difference between Mod Sélection and other Champagne brands on the market is that Mod Sélection has the versatility to be enjoyed course after course, throughout an entire meal, just as one would enjoy a crisp, fine white wine. Mod Sélection is more than just a toasting Champagne.

KF: Drake is part of this project. Tell us a little about that.

BH: Drake is a partner in the brand. He came to me years ago wanting to do a Spirits project together—which we did with Virginia Black Whiskey. Our joint interest has always been in bringing a portfolio of innovative brands to market. Mod Sélection Champagne is another one of those brands. While it took time and patience to create and develop as a truly superior drinking cuvée; when the Champagne was ready, he was naturally a great fit.

KF: What do you usually drink?

BH: I drink the Original DeLéon Tequila, Virginia Black, Mod Sélection Champagne and red wine.


KF: What trends do you see in the Champagne market for 2020, especially in the United States?

BH: I think the importance of sustainability will be increasingly important in Champagne in 2020. The Champagne region in France is projected to be fully sustainable by 2030, but we’re already leading this charge at Mod Sélection.

I also think we’ll see increased interest in single varietals Champagnes like Blanc de Blancs or more specific varietal blends like Blanc de Noirs. We are excited for the launch of our own Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs and Vintage Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru later this year.

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