Last week, the Rémy Martin team at Stir had the great privilege of visiting Cognac to sample the grape, as well as getting down to the nitty gritty of how this famous amber liquid is made.
Met at the airport by an Apprentice-style car, we were whisked away into the heart of Cognac to the small village of Touzac, made famous by its luscious vines and chalky soil. Our charming host Mei wasted no time in getting down to business, explaining the intricacies of producing this fine champagne Cognac. From the double distillation process, to the love and craftsmanship that goes into producing each barrel, Mei charted the very special journey from grape to bottle.
Next up, it was time to visit the vines which, carefully cultivated by the region’s growers, were boasting clusters of little green grapes. Getting in touch with our inner wine growers, we got to grips with the soil needed to grow these valuable grapes, breaking apart the chalky rocks and inspecting the vines. After our 3.30am wake up, we were all looking forward to having a bite to eat and Rémy Martin’s Le Club certainly didn’t disappoint. However, before we could tuck in, we were treated to the true spectacle of the Opulence Revealed table which, complete with handmade truffles, saffron and an impressive Parmesan cheese, showcased the complex flavour combinations in a glass of Rémy Martin XO. This was our first opportunity to sample the Cognac; under Mei’s guidance, we did so like true professionals, gently smelling the Cognac and testing the viscosity before drinking. It’s fair to say that it was absolutely delicious, with even first-time Cognac tasters converted to true enthusiasts.
Having had our fair share of XO, we were ready for lunch – cooked by Philippe, the in-house chef – which was a culinary masterpiece of scallop and cuttlefish tagliatelle, followed by an indulgent chocolate dome.
Mei whisked us off to the Rémy Martin headquarters for a tour of the reference room after lunch. Charting the history of Rémy Martin Cognac, the reference room showcased a selection of bottles, demonstrating their evolution over the years. Our final stop of the day was the cellars, which house an impressive 150,000 barrels. You certainly knew you had arrived before even entering the cellars with the smell of Cognac saturating the air! Having been talked through the ageing process, we were allowed privileged access into the Louis XIII cellars, where the Cognac is aged for 100 years before bottling.
The truly memorable day ended on a high with a delicious dinner with one of Rémy Martin’s ambassadors who treated us to Cognac’s finest fresh oysters and shellfish, all washed down, of course, with a glass of XO. Returning to London as true Cognac enthusiasts, we are all now looking forward to putting our new-found knowledge to good use.