Bar None

Ben Chin trav­els to Cognac to speak with cel­lar mas­ter Bap­tiste Loiseau on the mak­ing of Rémy Martin’s Louis XIII

T. Dining by Singapore Tatler - - Contents -

Cognac’s youngest cel­lar mas­ter on the time­less al­lure of Remy Martin’s Louis XIII

The si­lence is al­most rev­er­en­tial as we step into the dark­ness. The air is redo­lent with the rich, com­plex scent of aged cognac, which the French po­et­i­cally re­fer to as the an­gels’ share. As my eyes ad­just, rows and rows of an­cient tier­con casks are re­vealed, each hold­ing a pre­cious blend of 1,200 eauxde-vie, some a century old. We’re vis­it­ing the his­toric es­tate of Le Grol­let in Cognac, France—the birth­place of Louis XIII cognac, cre­ated by Paul-émile Rémy Martin in 1874. Among the vine­yards of ugni blanc grapes of Grande Cham­pagne that thrive on the re­gion’s chalky ter­roir, this vi­tal piece of his­tory re­mains.

To­day, the cognac house’s fifth cel­lar mas­ter, Bap­tiste Loiseau, car­ries on the lofty legacy left be­hind by An­dré Re­naud and the gen­er­a­tions of cel­lar masters af­ter him. Af­ter all, each bot­tle of Louis XIII is the sub­lime cul­mi­na­tion of 100 years of age­ing and blend­ing. We talk to Loiseau about pre­serv­ing her­itage, job chal­lenges and grow­ing up in Cognac.

Cognac’s youngest cel­lar mas­ter, Loiseau suc­ceeded his men­tor Pier­rette Trichet in 2014, ush­er­ing in a new era for the brand. How is the house of Rémy Martin en­gag­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of cognac drinkers? “Louis XIII re­mains com­mit­ted to its core prin­ci­ples and val­ues, as well as its style and aro­matic com­plex­ity,” ex­plains Loiseau. “Hon­our­ing crafts­man­ship and em­brac­ing the lux­ury of time en­ables Louis XIII to re­main the ex­cep­tional cognac it is to­day. This is the essence of our cognac, which al­lows us to talk to all gen­er­a­tions, no mat­ter their age.”

He adds, “To en­gage with the younger con­sumers we have had, for ex­am­ple, an in­ter­est­ing cam­paign: 100 Years: The Movie You Will Never See. Based on the con­cept of cre­at­ing a film that will not be re­leased im­me­di­ately, it is in­spired by the time it takes to cre­ate Louis XIII.” Star­ring vet­eran thes­pian John Malkovich, 1,000 guests from around the world were given in­vi­ta­tions to pass on to their de­scen­dants to see the film when it pre­mieres on Novem­ber 18, 2115.

The lifeblood of Louis XIII is its cel­lar masters; each bot­tle rep­re­sents the spirit of each gen­er­a­tion, con­tain­ing eaux-de-vie care­fully se­lected in each ten­ure. “The role of cel­lar mas­ter car­ries a great weight and re­spon­si­bil­ity with it—you are the guardian of the qual­ity and con­sis­tency of ev­ery blend, and it’s vi­tal to en­sure the Louis XIII style is re­spected,” says Loiseau. “A ma­jor part of my job in­volves work­ing with my nose, from se­lect­ing eaux-de-vie to tast­ing, along with manag­ing the pro­cesses of age­ing and blend­ing. I am lucky in that I am sen­si­tive to aro­mas, both in ev­ery­day life and in my work. You also have to be cu­ri­ous and in­ven­tive to do this job, be­cause a cel­lar mas­ter is more than just the ‘guardian at the tem­ple door’ that peo­ple of­ten imag­ine.”

He con­tin­ues, “Above all, you need to be a vi­sion­ary, be­cause you have to pre­pare the house’s fu­ture in the medium and long term. You know, when you take over this po­si­tion, that you will not taste the fruit of your labour; you be­come a link in a pre­cious chain, re­ceiv­ing the legacy from your pre­de­ces­sor and pass­ing on the ba­ton to a new gen­er­a­tion.”

Louis XIII is a blend of 1,200 eaux-de-vie and is made only from the finest Grand Cham­pagne from the Cognac re­gion

Loiseau, a Cognac na­tive, be­came keenly in­ter­ested in agron­omy grow­ing up, in­spired by his grand­par­ents, who were both hor­ti­cul­tur­ists. He de­vel­oped a great love for na­ture and re­spect for the wine­grow­ers that cul­ti­vated the ter­roir. “Life in Cognac is spe­cial be­cause it is in close re­la­tion­ship with na­ture,” he says. “There’s a love for healthy and re­gional food, pure air…. There is a spe­cial at­mos­phere in Cognac. It is a city which of­fers a gen­tle way of life. I would rec­om­mend trav­ellers to visit the old Cognac, the Charentaises houses from the 18th century and the Char­ente River. Trav­ellers can also ex­pe­ri­ence the Cognac uni­verse: visit cel­lars, feel the per­fume of time. The life of the re­gion is ded­i­cated to vine­yards and Cognac, where time is seen with such a dif­fer­ent per­cep­tion.”

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