So from Paris, France, off I went to Cognac via the TGV to the house of Rémy Martin. I knew nothing about Cognac, the drink and the region, before I arrived and could make the argument that I still don't! But, I learned that there is much more than eaux-de-vie that goes into a decanter of Louis XIII. Key ingredients: tradition, patience, and time.
Imagine starting a painting that you never get to finish. You pick the colors, the brushes, and the canvas, and then you hand them off to another artist. It will never be you who blends the hues to create new ones. You won't make the final strokes. It won't be you who frames and hangs the finished masterpiece. It's much the same with Louis XIII.
Louis XIII is one of the finest elixirs in the world, and each decanter takes up to 100 years to craft and contains a blend of up to 1,200 of the finest eaux-de-vie, made with grapes from the Grand Champagne region of Cognac, and selected each year by the house’s cellar master whose vision must extend one century ahead. To honor this tradition and the cellar masters who preserve it, the limited edition Louis XIII The Legacy decanter will be released in September, with only 500 available, and each individually signed by Rémy Martin’s four living cellar masters—André Giraud (93), Georges Clot (75), Pierrette Trichet (65) and current cellar master Baptiste Loiseau (37), the youngest in Cognac's history.
For our visit, we gathered at Le Grollet, a family estate on the outskirts of Cognac. The four cellar masters welcomed us into a musty stone cellar filled with weather-aged barrels. It was the first time they were together in public, and they answered questions about Louis XIII, while indulging in a few sips, too! The knowledge and respect that hung between them was palpable, and it was clear that the future of Louis XIII counts on its past.
Later we dined in a swankier cellar and were able to sample 100-year-old Louis XIII that Baptiste pulled straight from the barrel. Wow!
Here is a Q&A I did (first appeared online at Robb Reoport on August 28) with the four cellar masters.