Cognac, a brandy from the Cognac region of France, is a category that is heavily stereotyped with an image of rich, successful business types enjoying a hearty measure with a cigar being puffed emphatically. But the thing with stereotypes, and Rémy Martin in particular, is that they’ve accustomed themselves to a Chinese whisper. One consumer hears that the cognac is a fine example of an after-dinner drink, therefore buys a bottle to impress their fellow colleagues and family. One whisper hits ten, which hits twenty and so on. Ultimately it can alienate the original consumer as they now see the category as just an after-dinner drink, a ‘mens only’ mix with a cigar or a £10 measure of what is basically distilled wine.
Rémy Martin have attempted in recent years to bring back that original consumer, and their latest offering, Rémy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish, is winning the nods of approval. Before we look into this new expression, here’s a brief history on Rémy Martin itself.
In 1724, Rémy Martin, a young wine grower, established his company and was approved by King Louis XV in 1738 to plant new vines, despite their being a ban to do so. Just under 100 years later in 1830, the first Rémy Martin was released with the mythical Centaur adoring each bottle from 1870 onwards. In 1910, expansion of Rémy Martin hit the shores of the USA, Russia and China, as did the VSOP expression seventeen years later. After being recognised for superior quality in 1938, they decide to blend 100% of their cognacs from the two hearts of the cognac region – Petite Champagne and Grande Champagne. The XO Excellence was released in 1981 followed by Centaure de Diamont in 2010.
Rémy Martin uses a Alambic Charentais pot still (Alambic meaning the shape of the still, and Charentais is the name of the region), and has the mainly Ugni Blanc grape wine distilled twice. It is then aged in Limousin oak barrels for a minimum of two years. All this is overseen by the only woman in the Cognac region who is a cellar master – Pierrette Trichet
As mentioned, Rémy Martin have recently released a new version of their VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) which will replace the original and is made using the same blend of eaux-de-vie and the same period of aging as Rémy Martin VSOP. The new finishing period, in which the eaux-de-vie spends one more year in Limousin mature oak casks that are over 20 years old. Developed by Rémy Martin Cellar Master Pierrette Trichet and Deputy Cellar Master Baptiste Loiseau, the new expression is being introduced to cater for changing European palates and to renew the range whilst preserving the high standard and heritage behind the brand. So what does the new expression give? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –
Rémy Martin VSOP Mature Cask Finish – 40%
Subtle aromas of peach and apricot on the nose, with hints of oak warming nicely. A fantastic long and very smooth flavour of vanilla on the palate, with sweet notes kicking in between its silky texture.
And compared to the original?
Rémy Martin VSOP – 40%
Nice hit of fresh red fruit on the nose, with an almost clean aroma of olive oil coming through. Surprisingly thick on the palate, but with some great mixes of vanilla and honey before a slight kick on the throat. A long finish with a warm spice.
But what about the rest of the range?
Rémy Martin Cœur de Cognac – 40%
Released in 2007. Fresh, rich fruit and spice on the nose and creates a very smooth texture on the palate. Sweet flavours of toffee and vanilla with a burst of dry fruit near the end.
Rémy Martin XO Excellence – 40%
Created using 350 different blends. A bold yet dry nose of liquorice, spice and oak, followed by a smooth , well-balanced palate. Flavours of oak and dry spice blend well, creating a lingering warmth.
Unfortunately you can’t get the original VSOP in Europe anymore, but the Mature Cask Finish is a fine replacement, and I think is personally better. Especially when you can create recipes like this –
40ml Rémy Martin Mature Cask Finish VSOP
10ml Lemon Juice
Shake together all ingredients with ice and strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
50ml Rémy Martin Mature Cask Finish VSOP cognac
1 lime cut in wedges
2 spoons of brown sugar
8 mint leaves
In a tall glass lightly muddle the lime with sugar and the mint. Add the cognac, crushed ice and stir with a long spoon. Top with soda water. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Of course that doesn’t stop you enjoying Rémy Martin in a snifter glass or over a couple of cubes of ice. Whichever way is your prefered method of tipple, Rémy Martin really showcases the versatility of the cognac and indeed the brandy category itself, and caters not only for the business men of the world, but for the cocktail lovers and the less adventurous palate holders. Even the restaurant world can get in on the act with recipes like this. Enjoy!
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.