Cognac in Kl
THE smell of eau-de-vie, the sound of the golden liquid being poured from decanters, even down to the somewhat chilly temperature ... it was like being in the town of Cognac, France, where the spirit is produced.
Well, sort of. Except that we were not in France, but at Rémy Martin’s The Heart of Cognac Experience event held right here in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
The programme held at French fine dining restaurant Maison Française (5 Changkat Kia Peng, KL) was Rémy Martin’s way of bringing Cognac to Malaysia, giving guests a chance to explore the craftsmanship and dedication that goes into making Rémy Martin cognac.
“This programme is a way for us to help cognac and non-cognac drinkers get into the world of Rémy Martin,” said House of Rémy Martin president Patrick Piana, during an interview held before the event.
“It tells them the story of our cognac, the same story they would be living through if they came to Cognac for a day. They would learn about the Cognac region and its six different grape-growing ‘crus’, and how the House of Rémy Martin only works with two of the best crus – Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne.”
The House of Rémy Martin is the only company that exclusively uses Grand and Petite champagne grapes, from the two best growth areas of the Cognac region, and is recognised as a Fine Champagne Cognac by Appellation D’Origine Contrôlée, a certification officially granted by the French Government (fun fact: Rémy Martin produces 80% of all Fine Champagne Cognac).
During the Heart of Cognac event, guests were served special Rémy Martin cocktails, and got to try their hands at blending aged eaux-de-vie to see what sort of flavours go into a bottle of Rémy Martin VSOP.
“The Rémy Martin VSOP is a blend of more than 240 eaux-de-vie ranging from four to 14 years old, and here, we ask you to do it with only three! By doing so, we want to let people understand the complexity of the blending, and what our cellar master does,” said Piana.
At the event, Rémy Martin brand ambassador Brendon Fernandez was on hand to explain the production process of cognac in the Cask Room.
The event concluded with a tasting session of the Rémy Martin VSOP, Rémy Martin Club, and the Rémy Martin XO.
To Piana, the true heart of Rémy Martin cognac lies with several elements, namely nature, craftsmanship, and time.
From the harvesting of the grapes, distillation of the spirit, and the ageing, blending and packaging processes, it all boils down to these elements, which in turn are bound together by one final piece of the puzzle – the human touch.
“Everything we do using nature, craftsmanship and time, has that human touch. The most important touch of all is of course that of our cellar master (Pierrette Trichet), who has the ability to visualise what we have to do to get to that point. That’s the heart of cognac for me,” said Piana.
“Cognac is a small town, with only 14,000 people. But something really fantastic happens there – there are the cognac houses, from the big ones to the very small ones, and then there are the vineyards, and it’s all one big family. We all have a common interest – to bring the cognac experience to the world,” he said.
“The people of Cognac are truly proud of what the major Houses like Rémy Martin have been doing for the past 300 years, bringing the pleasure of cognac to the rest of the world.
Rémy Martin imported the first bottles of their cognac to Malaysia, at the end of the 19th century, so the brand has been around for quite some time now.
However, the brand had been quiet here for the past decade because of certain distribution complications.
“We were not in the situation to own our own distribution at one point, and when you don’t have the ability to activate your own brand, it is very hard to drive the value of your products,” said Piana.
“But in 2009, we were able to take control of our brands fully, and start establishing the right plans for the future.”
Asked about the future of the House of Rémy Martin, Piana said that the company is more concerned about the ability to grow steadily and the quality of their products, rather than how much cognac they sell.
“There’s only so much you can sell, and don’t forget, every time you sell one decanter of cognac, you have to make sure you have enough eau-de-vie ageing in your cellars in order to keep selling that in the future,” he said.
“We want to bring cognac drinkers to a new level of experience, and give them new pleasure in cognac tasting. There is a great market here (in Malaysia), and I think it will continue to premium-ise itself in the future.”
According to Piana, Rémy Martin is rec- ognised all over the world as the trading-up option in the cognac category, thanks in part to the company’s focus on Grande and Petite Champagne grapes exclusively.
“We’re proud of the fact that a few generations back, the decision was made that we would only go for the top, and only use the two best crus,” he said.
“Of course, quality always has a higher cost attached to it, and we’re proud of it!”
Michael Cheang has been to Cognac, and doesn’t remember it to be as cold as the airconditioning at the Rémy Martin event. Reader response can be directed to email@example.com. my.
Style and excellence: rémy Martin brand ambassador brendon Fernandez explaining the production process of cognac in the cask room.
nature, craftsmanship and time, as well as the all-important human touch, are crucial in the production of a cognac, says Patrick Piana.