What is in a grape? In a grapevine? In a vast landscape of lush vineyards? Cognac. And in this case, arguably the most exquisite and richly historical.
When Rémy Martin requested VIBE’s presence in Paris for an eventual rendezvous in Cognac, France itself, I couldn’t resist. From meeting a grower partner who harvests some of the most coveted grapes in the Grande Champagne region to learning how their eaux-de-vies are properly distilled alongside a master distiller, I was able to experience the many talents and varied elements of the spirits brand throughout a three-day excursion.
Following an opulent dinner aboard a private boat at Le Cachemire just outside the world famous Eiffel Tower, we – a select group of writers across various digital publications, alongside Rémy Martin ambassador and actress Jackie Cruz – gathered the next day inside the deliciously retro Hemingway Bar at the lauded Ritz Paris. Luxurious in victorian-styled details and rich in history, the Hemingway Bar is home to the original sidecar cocktail using Rémy Martin.
A few hours from Paris close to Bordeaux and La Rochelle, we then traveled by train to learn the secrets of Rémy Martin’s history and the production of its cognacs, which offered myself and others a multi-sensory, interactive tasting experience and unique journey through time and space. Using only my nose, I was able to taste for the elements and identify the many flavor profiles in the twice distilled golden liquid, including flowers, fruits, nuts and spices. Trained brand ambassadors were also present to help share production information, from grape harvesting and distillation, to maturation and blending.
At the Rémy Martin Estate, the brand’s production site serving up a unique and authentic journey from the vineyard to the tasting, we met Sonia Sicare, expert wine grower and beloved harvester. Sonia, a fervent disciple of tradition and family heritage, warmly and wholeheartedly walked us through the wide acres of vineyards, unpacking the details of her intimate relationship with Mother Nature and what it takes throughout the year to harvest some of the world’s most coveted grapes, which require incredible patience and a masterful sense of intuition to say the least.
As a traveling consumer, the experience of traversing the reserves and counting by hand clusters of grapes allowed me to engage directly with the suppliers of a libation I often simply only drink without ever considering the hands and spirit responsible for its creation.
After a barrel-making demonstration with expert coopers, our group got the opportunity to select samples of aged cognac directly from barrels in the estate’s cellars, working hands-on with Rémy Martin’s youngest master distiller Baptiste Loiseau, whose sole yet intricate job is to blend masterfully. We then were guided through a tasting of each choice cognac, learning the subtle nuances of the skills and expertise needed to actually select and blend hundreds of eaux-de-vie to make Rémy Martin cognacs.
The House of Rémy Martin, a historic site where we discovered the secrets of the brand’s heritage and know-how, is where I especially enjoyed an intimate tasting and decadent food pairing experience with some of the most extraordinary expressions to emerge from Cognac. One of the more awe-inspiring experiences, however, had to be the hot air balloon ride on Grande and Petite Champagne, which afforded us a breathtaking view of the Cognac landscape.
The final evening and perhaps most extravagant dinner of all, also at the House of Rémy Martin, saw the private unveiling of something pretty special. Let’s just say it’s Rémy Martin like we’ve never seen it before. And this coming October, consumers stateside will learn just how.