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Rémy Martin Cognac

Rémy Martin, the Cognac house, was founded by Rémy Martin, the man, who was born in 1695 in the Charente region in France. He came from a family of wine merchants and in 1724 he moved into the Cognac business, founding a firm that would go on to be one of the ‘big four’ Cognac houses along with Martell, Hennessy and Courvoisier. At the time, new planting of vineyards was closely controlled to protect existing growers but in 1738 Martin obtained permission from King Louis XV to plant more grapes in the region. This momentous moment is commemorated in the 1738 Accord Royal bottling which was launched in 1997.

When he died in 1773, his grandson, who just to confuse things was also called Rémy Martin took over. In 1810 it was his son, Paul-Emilie Remy Martin, who began exporting outside Europe, to the US, Asia and the Pacific, and 1830 introduced the first Grand Champagne Cognac using grapes only from the most prestigious vineyards.

The firm remained in family hands but a non-family member André Renaud became cellar master and later chairman after the First World War. He launched a VSOP (Very Special Old Pale) Fine in 1927, after the war his son-in-law André Hériard-Dubreuil took over. His daughter Dominique Hériard-Dubreuil succeeded him as general manager in 1988. Then in 1991 Remy Martin merged with another family-owned business Cointreau to form Remy-Cointreau.

Since 1948, the firm has only used grapes from the two best sub-regions of Cognac, Grand and Petite Champagne. 97% of these will be ugni blanc with the rest made up of folle blanche and colombard, two traditional varieties of the region. Harvested in early October, the grapes are gently pressed before a 5-7 day fermentation, resulting in a white wine with an ABV of roughly 7-9%. Distillation takes place in traditional, small alembic copper pot stills before maturation in the French Limousin oak casks. The characteristically large, open grain of the Limousin oak accounts for a great deal of added spice and vanilla-like flavours during the ageing period.

Remy Martin is one of the most prestigious and consistent Cognac houses famous in particular for its VSOP Fine. The trademark frosted glass bottle was introduced in 1972 and in 1981 Remy Martin launched its first XO. Sitting at the top of the range is the fabulous Louis XIII which comes in a crystal decanter and was first created by Paul-Émile Rémy Martin in 1874.

In 2003 Remy Martin was the first major Cognac house to appoint a female cellar master, Pierette Trichet, after whom the Remy Martin Trichet is named. The current cellar master Baptiste Loiseau took over in 2014. In 2015, Loiseau began trials with new grape varieties which may be more suitable for a warming climate than ugni blanc though these won’t become more widespread for decades.

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