I’ve always wanted to visit Europe, so I was really happy when I got the chance to go on a trip a few weeks ago. While I was excited about going to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower and explore the patisseries, the highlight of my trip was definitely joining Martell on their Pure Gourmet Tour in the Cognac region.
Over the three days, we had an insider view of what goes on behind the scenes at Martell, and it was such an eye-opening experience as we witnessed first-hand the entire cognac-production process. Join me on this adventure to learn more about Martell and cognac!
When you mention Cognac in Singapore, most people will think of Martell, which is hardly surprising since they are the market leaders here. After going on this trip to learn more about cognac, I can assure you that there is a reason why Martell is so popular. From the distillation process, to the location of the vineyards, the way it grows the vines, the constant vigilance during the ageing phase, to the making of oak casks – Martell ensures every step is being done the right way so as to produce a bottle of good cognac.
I arrived in Paris one day before the trip to Cognac, and it gave me ample time to wander around Paris (more on that in another post).
The next morning, we hopped on the highspeed train to the Cognac region. We were feeling a little grumpy as we had to wake up for a 7am train, but when we arrived at Château de Chanteloup, the amazing view all but made up for it. I’m pretty sure I actually said “oh my God” aloud.
I had the pleasure of being in the company of David from David Lebovitz, Douglas from Intoxicating Prose, Qing from Neeu, Max from Cognac-Expert, Jamie from Life’s a Feast, Ren from Fabulicious Food, and Helene from The Lux Chronicles. All of us had so much fun (and cognac) during the stay in the Château.
This was the view that I woke up to every morning. It felt like heaven. I didn’t want to leave.
Our adventure started after lunch at Le Bistrot de Claude (35 Rue Grande 16100 COGNAC) – we were told it is one of the best restaurants in Cognac. We began with our behind-the-scenes tour at the Martell Distillery where we learned about the Martell-making process.
Throughout the trip, we were joined by Martell experts, so we had the opportunity to ask anything and everything we’ve ever wanted to know about Cognac. It’s really fascinating to speak with Jermey Oakes – Martell’s Brand Ambassador to China – and he shared with us lots of interesting stories about his experience working in the China market.
Stepping outside the distillery to visit the Martell vineyards.
Our tour continued with a visit to the Martell Cooperage where we witnessed the entire oak-making process. It was a lot of hard work, and it’s really quite something to learn that there are so many people working behind the scenes in order to produce good cognac.
Another highlight of the trip was visiting Martell’s headquarters. There, we were shown the original cellars and we had a tour of Martell’s Heritage Centre where we learned about the rich history of the cognac maker.
Tasting of Martell Cognac.
The real treat for us was in Paradise, or Martell’s Cellar, where they keep the oldest stock of cognac. We tasted the legendary L’Or de Jean Martell, and there’s only one word to describe the experience in Martell Paradise: wow!
And of course, everyone bought bottles of Martell cognac after the tour.
At Martell, it’s not just about the cognac. There’s also an emphasis to pair cognac with food. I was impressed by the fact that Martell actually has resident chefs working on their Pure Gourmet programme.
Developed by a team of culinary experts led by Chef Philippe Labbé, the idea behind “Pure Gourmet” was to develop a full menu involving ingredients which combine well with the particular characteristics of cognac.
We also got the chance to learn cooking from the chefs. Or rather, the chefs did all the work while we watched. We were treated to crêpes with orange sauce, and warm Madeleines straight from the oven, to go with glasses of cognac of course.
Throughout the trip, we had cognac every meal. It was crazy, but so much fun! Other than having lots of cognac, the kind folks at Martell also fed us very well. Life is good when you have delicious food and great cognac.
As I was taking the train back to Paris from Cognac, I kept thinking about our adventure over the past few days. We learned about the production of cognac, and the whole process is really mind-boggling. There is a level of quality control at every stage, and those guys at Martell really pay attention to every single detail.
We learned how to appreciate cognac with food; every cognac has its own personality and when you pair it with the right dish, it adds a different dimension. There is so much to learn, and so many different types of cognac to drink.
After going on this special trip, I will never look at a bottle of Martell Cognac in quite the same way again.
Note: I travelled to Cognac via Paris as a guest of Martell. No monetary benefits were received, only air tickets and hotel accommodations were sponsored.