Cellar Master Interview – 5 Questions for:
Christophe Valtaud, Cellar Master of the House of Martell, Cognac.
1- Which 3 words best describe the essence of the Martell Cognac brand?
Elegance, smoothness and finesse best define our essence!
2- What are the top skills and knowledge necessary in making Martell XO cognac?
All Martell cognacs are made from uncompromising choices in their quest for absolute quality. From Martell’s iconic Cordon Bleu to Martell Chanteloup Perspective or Martell XO, they all bear the trademark structure and the elegance of Martell cognacs. At the origin of the Martell style are two stages – the secrets of a signature instantly recognisable for its delicacy, elegance, subtlety and generousity:
- Double distillation of exclusively clear wines – Alone among the great cognac houses, Martell practices double distillation of exclusively clear wines.
After vinification, the wines are therefore left untouched for a week to prepare them for decantation: the lees are removed, resulting in “clear wines” that are a purer reflection of their vintage, grape variety and terroir. It is by removing all the maskers of taste that Martell reveals the natural and authentic aromas of the grape. This choice puts finesse ahead of volume and rapidity. For Martell, true luxury is taking the time to do things well.
- Fine-grained oak for ageing – To age its cognacs, Martell uses exclusively Tronçais-type fine-grained oak casks, which are characterised by finer, less pronounced tannins to respect the richness and delicacy of the clear wines. Therefore, the developed aromas are subtler, more generous and more refined.
3. What are the recommended ways to drink Martell VSOP or XO cognacs?
Martell VS, VSOP or Noblige (XO) are perfect for mixology, creating exciting, refined cocktails. When we create a cocktail or a long drink, we aim to ensure that the true essence of Martell shines through as we want our customers to enjoy the authentic taste in every occasion. Mixology is also a very good way to introduce cognac to a younger adult market, mixing cognac with tonic, ginger ale or green tea, for example. Ofcourse, the best way to enjoy Martell is in a way that reveals its authenticity and complexity.
4- Which foods go best with cognac?
Martell Cognac was founded in 1715 and has always had a close link to gastronomy. Cognac and food pairing is logical and works very well. For each product of the Martell range, we choose ingredients that underline and accentuate its particular qualities. For example, truffles to match the elegance and smoothness of L’Or de Jean Martell; Mocha with Martell Cordon Bleu to bring out the roasted notes; and cinnamon to bring out the rich, spice aroma. Martell XO’s perfectly matches Fine de Claire oysters, scallops, blue lobster or langoustine. But also, turkey or roasted ham. Martell XO enhances these delicate crustaceans and meat, due to its strength and finesse with these foods.
5- What are some of the Martell consumer experiences taking place around the world?
Martell’s brand is best experienced via the global ‘Be Curious’ platform. We encourage cognac lovers to discover new and unique ways to use cognac in tastings, parties and consumption concepts. To go further, Martell has developed its new H.O.M.E. by Martell platform. H.O.M.E. by Martell is a worldwide initiative which inspires consumers to create new rituals and experiences in their own homes. In residential locations across the planet, hosts will invite guests to explore their own vision of entertaining – combining music, food and cognac-tasting. H.O.M.E by Martell encourages individuals to redefine the concept of home entertainment.