Ernest Hemingway once said that one of the best writing advice he got is to begin by writing one true sentence.
My problem with that is that we are living in a time where a lot of things are easily misunderstood, so one true sentence is not always enough.
I guess this is my way of saying, “I’m gonna say something but I implore the reader to read further because my first line would sound absolutely snobby or pseudo-intellectual and that’s not my intent at all.”
I enjoy going to events where I get to learn something technical. I have nothing against events that are meant for the attendees to simply have fun and enjoy the available libations, but I am such a nerd that I tend to passionately talk about something I’ve learned.
Here is my other true sentence: I never thought I’d learn anything new from a Rémy Martin event.
To clarify, the people who work with the brand have done magnificently well for the past several years that the cognac is a staple in every bar, restaurant, hotel, airplane, and liquor store. In that regard, I thought I knew everything there is to know about the brand.
I didn’t to learn anything new when I accepted our friend and Rémy Martin Brand Advocate for the Philippines Kévin Charuel’s invitation (seriously, I thought it would just be a fun venue to catch up on the latest goss with his lovely wife). I should have known that Charuel would put his amazing gift for talking about alcohol and teach me new things.
Here are some facts I learned about Rémy Martin:
- The Centaur logo was chosen because it embodies a teacher, a hunter, a philosopher, and an herbalist.
- Rémy Martin is the only major cognac house that specialises in Cognac Fine Champagne. To be labeled Fine Champagne, a cognac has to be made exclusively from eaux-de-vie (what is distilled from still wines) from the Grande and Petite Champagne crus (regions), and at least half should come from Grande Champagne.
- Rémy Martin starts out with wine made from Ugni Blanc (a standard for cognac, of course), Colombard, and Folle Blanche harvested in September/October. They distill in small pot stills the highly acidic, 7-9% ABV wine, which was actually fermented on lees to add more texture and complexity.
- Rémy Martin’s Cellar Master Baptiste Loiseau has a wonderful quote that could not only apply to his profession, but to anyone’s: <<On ne naît pas maître de chai, on le devient>>, which translates to “One is not born a cellar master, he becomes one.” There have only been four cellar masters for Rémy Martin in the past 100 years.
- There is no Rémy Martin VS (for perspective, there are three general labels for Cognac, which I’ve arranged in increasing order according to the minimum ageing required by French law: VS at 2.5 years, VSOP at 4.5 years, and XO at 10 years).
- There is an outlier for the Rémy Martin cognac varieties: the Rémy Martin Club, which is not classified as VS, VSOP, or XO.
- Another differentiation between each Rémy Martin is the quantity of eaux-de-vie The purpose of blending different eaux-de-vie is to create a signature blend for a cognac, and I learned that the more eaux-de-vie used in the blend, the more complex the characteristic of the cognac.
- It’s too easy to search for the Rémy Martin tasting notes online (hence I honestly don’t feel like writing it), but what I appreciated with the guided tasting Charuel conducted was the situations he created per variant:
- VSOP – Given its high acidity and summer fruit notes, it’s something he would recommend drinking on the rocks (to offset the acidity) or as part of a cocktail (such as a Rémy Ginger and a classic Side Car). Coming from a part of the world that advocates drinking according to the season, he suggests that it is the perfect summer Personally, the Philippines being the land of 365 days of summer, I can imagine the VSOP drunk anytime of the year. Charuel recommends pairing it with raw fish (such as sashimi or sushi), Roquefort (PS, somebody find me proper Roquefort in Manila, stat!), raw oysters, or scallops.
- Club – Given its warm spice and dried fruit notes, Charuel suggested that it’s great to drink neat, especially during autumn. Upon tasting, the flavours reminded me of pumpkin spice, something I personally love. The food pairing Charuel recommended are things one could find during fall, such as smoked tuna and ginger cake, but the almond notes also make it good with grilled almonds.
- XO – Confession: We always have a Rémy Martin XO at home (well, almost always… I think we just killed one bottle. Time to get a new one!). My all-time favourite actress, Audrey Hepburn, swore by the pleasures of having a little cognac after dinner, which is why I adapted the practice. Charuel suggested that it could pair with rich savory dishes (such as duck, foie gras with fig or prune jam, or Asian BBQ dishes) or sweet food (such as certain flavours of ice cream, fig tarts, or chocolate dessert). It’s also a great base for a classic Old Fashioned.
What’s the best thing you’ve learned recently about a drink you’re familiar with? Let us know in the comments. Cheers!