François and Janis lead Maison Méry-Melrose, and they have charted their own course for the company. Their independent spirit and original vision have propelled the company’s transition to organic agriculture, the launch of the independent organic Grande Champagne Maison Méry-Melrose line, and the expansion of distribution throughout Europe and into North America and China.
Winegrower. Winemaker. Distiller. Cellar master. Blender.
François Méry has spent his entire life in pursuit of the purest expressions of Grande Champagne Cognac.
A fourth-generation distiller, Francois learned to use a traditional Charantais pot still from his father and grandfather. They also taught him to grow the finicky aromatic white grapes Cognac demands and the secrets to harnessing indigenous yeast to ferment those grapes into the tart, fruity wine perfect for distillation. But Francois’ story is not only about tradition. As a young man, he traveled halfway around the world to Australia, where he first encountered small, independent, and biodynamic producers making and marketing wines their own way. There, he first began to dream of having his own independent Grande Champagne Cognac label that could encapsulate the terroir he knew so well: The chalky soil, the snails, the hares, the vines, the brilliant sun, and the hardworking and resilient Charentais people.
In 2003, Francois met Janis, and her commitment to organic agriculture and love of high-quality wine led him to begin experimenting with organic techniques in his own vineyard. Together, they started producing Bordeaux-style wines from organic grapes. By 2014, they had transitioned all 25 hectares of their estate to certified organic and joined the first wave of organic growers in Cognac.
Maison Méry-Melrose is a true grower Cognac, produced from vine to glass entirely on the Méry Melrose estate in Salles d’Angles in the Grande Champagne Cru of Cognac. For François, Maison Méry-Melrose has become an expression of his own life: deeply rooted in heritage and tradition, but like the sunflowers of Cognac, facing towards the future.
Organic grower. Winemaker.
Janis Melrose’s story begins in another part of the world famous for distillation: Scotland.
She grew up in a small town to the west of Edinburgh, the former site of a famous liqueur factory and whisky distillery. After college, she was undecided about her career path, but a passion for traveling led her to spend 10 years living and working around the world, including Australia and London. While in London, she started taking a course on wine, and found herself amazed at the amount of complexity and range that could come from a humble grape.
Wine quickly morphed from a hobby to a full-fledged passion. After completing WSET certification, she traveled to Bordeaux to learn to make wine, propelled by a dream of one day having her own organic vineyard and winery. While visiting the city of Cognac to taste its native spirit in 2003, she met Francois. After studying viti-oeno Baccalauréat Pro she started making organic wine from grapes grown in an existing organic vineyard, this led to Francois converting his land to organic, and together they started to develop the Maison Méry-Melrose organic portfolio.
Today, Janis and Francois work hand in hand to manage and develop Maison Méry-Melrose, she is naturally devoted to Méry Melrose, her vision defines the direction of the company and each product, she manages the export and marketing communications, although her priority is their two young children, their family’s source of joy and happiness. She sees François’ commitment to organic agriculture as a demonstration of his love and respect for the future of the next generation.
François’ father, Jean-Paul Méry, was born in 1947. Despite enduring some of the most difficult times for the Cognac industry in recent memory, including the crash of 1983, he was able to triple the size of the distillery, begin offering an independent Méry brand cognac, and significantly expand the land holdings of the family. Although Jean-Paul officially retired in 2007, he remains involved in the business, and can often be found spending time in the vineyard or helping François during distillation season (when he’s not ducking out to nab a hare or help neighbors cope with a wild boar).
Méry Family History – four generations of reinvention
The Méry family has been making Grande Champagne Cognac for more than 100 years, and each generation has reinvented the business in its own way. François’ great-grandfather, Alexander Coudreau, arrived in Cognac in 1911, not long after the devastating Phylloxera epidemic. Although he was a humble tenant farmer, he was also tenacious, persistent, and an extremely hard worker. Alexander quickly proved his worth to the landowner whose farm he managed, who left him her property after she passed away—which, incidentally, included a small still. There, he began to distill eau de vie. His daughter and son-in-law, Edouard Méry, purchased the land in Salles d’Angles that would become the Méry family estate in 1946. Then, he became one of the very first families to become a contract producer for Remy-Martin, perhaps the most respected Cognac brand in the world.
L’Ebaupin, The Méry Estate, built 1851