Every cognac connoisseur worth his table at the Michelin starred Le Baudelaire restaurant in Le Burgundy Paris on Whit Monday knows the name Louis XIII. Christened after the dutiful monarch who reigned over France during the early part of the 16th century, this coveted cognac has served as a testament to exceptionally talented cellar masters that have served under the prestigious house of Rémy Martin since 1724.
The origins of Louis XIII can be traced back to 1569 when a royal flask was lost in the heat of battle during the historical skirmish in Jarnac. Nearly three centuries later, this seemingly inconsequential piece of detritus would come into the possession of Paul-Émile Rémy Martin, an entrepreneurial cellar master and the son of the founder of the house of Rémy Martin.
Inspired by the flask’s striking shape and regal fleur-de-lys medallions on display, Paul-Émile decided he would use this design to create a special decanter that would contain a blend of his oldest eaux-de-vie distilled from the juices of grapes found only in Grande Champagne.
A mere two hour train ride from Gare Montparnasse, this prized area in the heart of the Cognac region offers a refreshing change of pace from the glitz and glamour of Paris. Home of medieval structures that reside alongside the verdant beauty of manicured vineyards blanketing the undulating hills of this region, one can spend endless days uncovering the hidden treasures of its bucolic setting.
For the longterm residents of Cognac, the true treasure of this region lies in its terroir. This delicate balance of chalky soil and ideal climate conditions ensures that the Ugni Blanc grapes contain high levels of acidity desirable in wines intended for the double distillation process and ripen in time for the annual grape harvest period (vendage).
Once the precious eaux-de-vie is distilled, it will be temporarily stored for a minimum of two years in new barrels crafted using French oak harvested from Limousin forests to bring in tannins and enhance its flavour. The cellar master will then select the best eaux-de-vie to be transported into special aged barrels located in secret cellars to mature in peace for decades. It is this meticulous process that will enable the cellar master’s successor to create the coveted amber ambrosia to be savoured by future generations to come.
Members of the cognac cognoscenti who wish to deepen their knowledge about the craftsmanship and history of Louis XIII will benefit from signing up for the unique experiences offered by Remy Martin. Designed to educate and entertain, these exclusive experiences include rare opportunities to explore the historic cellars and famous Rémy Martin distillery.
Highlights to be had include a special ceremonial tasting that takes place at the private Le Club salon nestled in the region’s old town. Served using limited edition crystal glasses designed by Christophe Pillet, the experience serves to highlight the finer points of cognac appreciation through sight, sound and smell as well as taste.
The ultimate way to conclude one’s journey in Cognac would be to explore the magnificent grounds of the Domaine Du Grollet. Housed in a 19th-century Charentais estate (which includes an actual moat), this serene sanctuary was the former residence of the late André Hériard Dubreuil. During his tenure as the president of the House of Remy Martin, Dubreuil set out to create the region’s first wine cooperative. Known today as the Alliance Fine Champagne, this revolutionary project brought together hundreds of Grande and Petite Champagne growers to provide the house with only the finest eau-de-vie.
Also included in this experience is an opportunity to take part in a private gourmet dining experience inside the former distillery which houses the original copper pots that were used to distill the eaux-de-vie for generations. After indulging in a specially curated menu that highlights wild, regional produce and the freshest local ingredients, we can’t think of any better way to end one’s journey than to raise a toast to the past, present and future of Louis XIII.
For more details on the Louis XIII Experience by Remy Martin, visit www.visitesremymartin.com