Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal Cognac

Click here for tasting notes.

Rémy Martin is one of the world’s oldest and best known cognac brands, with selections that range, at my local liquor store at least, from the $13 St. Remy French brandy to the $9000 Rémy Martin Louis XIII Time Collection: City of Lights – 1900.  (I have tried one of these, but not both.)

Rémy Martin was founded in 1724  in the Cognac region of France by Paul-Emile Rémy Martin. He was born in 1695 near Rouillac in southwestern France, the son of a vine grower.  At 19, he married the daughter of a local notary, and 10 years later, in 1724, he established a cognac trading house. On his death in 1773, the business passed to his grandson, also named Rémy, who was also the local tax collector.  In time, his son inherited the business, which saw a four-fold increase in the region’s trade between 1810 and the early 1820s.  In 1841, Paul-Emile-Rémy Martin (the family gave just about every male heir the same name, apparently) assumed control and oversaw even greater growth. He introduced the innovation of selling in bottles as well as the traditional casks.  An early skilled marketer, he added a logo to the bottles and cases; a centaur after Sagittarius, Martin’s zodiac sign, and registered the firm’s first trademarks in 1874.  Following him, as so often happens in dynastic families, the fifth-generation proprietor nearly bankrupted the operation.

It was saved in 1927  by André Renaud, the son of a Grande Champagne grower, who was also a lawyer, a merchant, and who had been involved in E. Rémy Martin & Co. since 1910.  He reduced quantity, increased quality, and applied the VSOP designation, an eighteenth century term for old cognacs.  (VSOP, like VS and XO, are traditional terms that specify the age of the cognac, but not its quality.)  By the time Renaud died in 1965, the company was selling 300,000 cases a year, and was the leader in the premium Cognac segment. Rémy Martin continued to rise under André Hériard-Dubreuil, André Renaud’s son-in-law.   He  constructed a modern production facility and introduced the now iconic frosted bottle for the VSOP in 1972.  As they came of age, his children joined him, notably his daughter Dominique Hériard-Dubreuil who became general manager in 1988, and president two years later. In 1991, Rémy Martin acquired Cointreau.

Continue reading “Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal Cognac”

Kelt Tour du Monde Rare VSOP Cognac

Kelt Rare VSOP
For tasting notes, click here.

First, let’s talk about brandy vs. cognac. Brandy is a liquor distilled from wine and aged in wood. (Brandy can be made from fruits other than grapes as well, but that’s a story for another time.) Cognac is brandy that specifically comes from the town of Cognac and the delimited surrounding areas in western France. (The one which has the most favorable soil and geographical conditions is Grande Champagne.) So, all cognacs are brandy, but not all brandies are cognac. For more detail on cognac, click here.

Until the early 1900s cognac was shipped in barrels. The long sea voyages had a profound effect on the quality of the cognac. When cognac started to be shipped in bottles, many felt something had been was lost. Hoping to recapture that quality, Estonian-born Swedish entrepreneur Olev Keltes established the Kelt Cognac company in 1988. He began his career with the study of the distillation of cognacs as well as madeira, rum, and aquavit. It was this study that led him to rediscover the lost secret that quality improved in spirits that were aged in barrels on a long trip at sea . It is this maturation at sea that sets Kelt apart from other cognac houses.

Kelt continued to expand on this idea, and sent his cognac on its first sea voyage in 1990. The cognac world looked on, many with skeptical eyes. After the voyage, a tasting session was arranged with some of the top names in the cognac industry, and it was with some surprise that the experiment was hailed a great success.

Subsequently, an optimum route around the world was established, and one which all Kelt cognac now follows. The aim of this travel around the world (tour du monde) is to produce cognacs similar to those of the past, where many cognacs and eaux-de-vie were subjected to this epic oceanic journey.

Continue reading “Kelt Tour du Monde Rare VSOP Cognac”

Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac

First, let’s talk about brandy vs. Cognac. Brandy is a liquor distilled from grape wine and aged in wood. (Brandy can be made from fruits other than grapes as well, but that’s a story for another time.) Cognac is brandy that specifically comes from the town of Cognac and the delimited surrounding areas in western France. (The one which has the most favorable soil and geographical conditions is Grande Champagne.) So, all Cognacs are brandy, but not all brandies are Cognac. For more detail on Cognac, click here.

Cognac has been sold under the Ferrand name since the 18th century, spanning 10 generations of producers, beginning with the birth of the first Elie Ferrand in the small town of Segonzac in 1630 (nine more Elies would follow).  In 1989, Alexandre Gabriel partnered with Pierre Ferrand, the living heir of the family, to develop a line of Cognacs.  Once Pierre Ferrand retired in 1993, Gabriel became sole proprietor.

In  short order, Gabriel bought the Logis d’Angeac distillery, built in 1776 and located in the heart of the Grande Champagne region of Cognac. He also purchased the 18th century Chateau de Bonbonnet, once owned by the Martell family, and turned it into his home as well as Ferrand’s state-of-the-art blending facility and offices.

Photo: Alexandre Gabriel

Continue reading “Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac”

A Good Cheap Brandy

For best results, blend your own.

Obviously, I enjoy wine, but I’m a fan of liquor too, especially brandy.  Brandy is distilled from wine and aged in wood to give it its characteristic flavor and color.  The word brandy comes from the Dutch brandewijin, meaning  “burned (distilled) wine.”  It is usually made from grape wine, but can be distilled from other fruit wines, most often apple, in which case it is called apple brandy or applejack generically and Calvados in France.  Cognac is brandy that specifically comes from the town of Cognac and the delimited surrounding areas in western France.  So, all cognacs are brandy, but not all brandies are cognac.  For more detail on cognac, click here.

My favorite brandy of all time is Kelt Tour du Monde.   Just a few years ago, it was selling for $40 a bottle; now it’s $60.   Brands like Martell, Hennessy, Courvoisier, and Hardy have suffered similar inflation.  Capitalism at its finest.  Regardless, all of them are too expensive for me to drink on a regular basis.  For that, I turn to bottles under $20.  American producers include Paul Masson, Christian Brothers, Korbel, and E&J Gallo.  And there are readily-available European offerings such as St. Remy from France, Hartley from Italy, Pedro Domecq from Mexico, and Veterano from Spain. Continue reading “A Good Cheap Brandy”

Riedel Brandy Glasses

Riedel of Austria, famous for its varietal-specific stemware, makes both of these glasses, and both are intended for use with brandy and its variants Cognac, and Armagnac.  How is this possible? They could hardly be more different.

L: Riedel Brandy Snifter  /  R: Riedel Cognac Hennessey Glass

The glass on the left is the iconic brandy snifter, as instantly recognizable as a martini glass.  Its large balloon bowl is intended to display as much of a brandy’s aroma as possible.  And the wide bottom is intended for cradling in the palm of your hand, warming the brandy to further enhance the nose.

The glass on the right, although named by Riedel specifically for Hennessey Cognac, is suited for any brandy, Cognac, or Armagnac, and is the one preferred by connoisseurs and professionals.  The bowl still allows for appreciating the aroma, without accelerating the evaporation like a snifter can, and the tulip shape concentrates it.  A similarly-sized and -shaped wine glass can work nearly as well.

While I enjoy stemware like this, as always my advice is to use whatever you like.  As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t have to slurp your beverage directly off the counter you’re good to go.

Find out more about brandy by listening to the Winervana Podcast Episode 10 – Brandy, Cognac, and Armagnac.

Top of page: https://winervana.com/blog/

Kelt Commodore Cognac

Kelt Cognac
For tasting notes, click here.

First, let’s talk about brandy vs. cognac. Brandy is a liquor distilled from wine and aged in wood. (Brandy can be made from fruits other than grapes as well, but that’s a story for another time.) Cognac is brandy that specifically comes from the town of Cognac and the delimited surrounding areas in western France. (The one which has the most favorable soil and geographical conditions is Grande Champagne.) So, all cognacs are brandy, but not all brandies are cognac. For more detail on cognac, click here.

Until the early 1900s cognac was shipped in barrels. The long sea voyages had a profound effect on the quality of the cognac. When cognac started to be shipped in bottles, many felt something had been was lost. Hoping to recapture that quality, Estonian-born Swedish entrepreneur Olev Keltes established the Kelt Cognac company in 1987. He began his career with the study of the distillation of cognacs as well as madeira, rum, and aquavit. It was this study that led him to rediscover the lost secret that quality improved in spirits that were aged in barrels on a long trip at sea . It is this maturation at sea that sets Kelt apart from other cognac houses.

Kelt continued to expand on this idea, and sent his cognac on its first sea voyage in 1990. The cognac world looked on, many with skeptical eyes. After the voyage, a tasting session was arranged with some of the top names in the cognac industry, and it was with some surprise that the experiment was hailed a great success.

Subsequently, an optimum route around the world was established, and one which all Kelt cognac now follows. The aim of this travel around the world (tour du monde) is to produce cognacs similar to those of the past, where many cognacs and eaux-de-vie were subjected to this epic oceanic journey.

Continue reading “Kelt Commodore Cognac”