Martell: True Elegance

Martell’s heritage dates back to the 18th century, when Jean Martell, a native of Jersey, founded the company. That was in 1715, at the height of French art de vivre, when gastronomy, taste and craftsmanship were celebrated and enjoyed with style. These three elements then became the three pillars of the house of Martell and remain intrinsic to the brand’s vision today. For three centuries, Martell has produced, exported and marketed a wide selection of cognacs, which are recognized worldwide for their outstanding quality and finesse.

Christophe Valtaud, Cellar Master at Martell

On a related note, the brand is also renowned for the delicate and refined style of its cognacs. To that end, the fundamental part to this particular style is none other than a unique savoir-faire defined by two enduring and uncompromising principles. From the double distillation of exclusively clear wines—from which all lees have been removed—to ageing only in fine-grained oak casks, as the best to reveal the natural fruit aromas of the eaux-de-vie. As for now, while staying true to its spirit of curiosity, the brand is continuing its journey by exploring ever further into the ageing dimension of its own savoir-faire. The result of this journey? The Martell VSOP aged in red barrels.

The Journey

First of all, like all Martell cognacs, the aforementioned Martell VSOP aged in red Barrels is matured exclusively in casks made of fine-grained oak from France’s ancient TronÇais forest. To be exact, these casks—typically crafted using wood that’s between 180 and 200 years old—are characterized by finer, less pronounced tannins, which respect the delicacy of Martell’s clear wines. And as a consequence, the aromas that develop are more subtle, more generous and more refined.

Martell VSOP Aged in Red Barrels

That being said, the brand is taking a different route to create their new cognac. “To begin with, the red barrels used for ageing Martell VSOP red Barrels have in fact already been used to age eaux-de-vie,” explains Christophe Valtaud, cellar Master at Martell, during his recent visit to Jakarta. “At first, we begin with new barrels that have become red after three years of ageing, and before they are aged there is some bitterness from the tannins and the vanilla notes are less pronounced. Then, after three years, the bitterness is reduced as a result of fewer tannins remaining and the vanilla notes are more intense. It’s safe to say that at this stage, it is perfectly balanced.”

Yes, for the latest Martell VSOP aged in red Barrels, the Martell cellar Master selected oak casks already used to age eaux-de-vie, where the influence of tannins is even less pronounced. Known as fûts roux—because of the reddish tinge of the wood used—these precious barrels have reached the perfect stage of maturation for both the oak and the eaux-devie, thereby allowing for an ideally balanced exchange between the two. At the end, not only are they able to fully express their natural fruit aromas, but also these blend harmoniously with subtle woody overtones from the red barrels of fine-grained oak, resulting in an exceptionally rich and refined cognac that is an authentic expression of the Martell style.


The Aftermath

At first glance, through a uniquely luminous appearance from a warm copper with glints of gold, the color of Martell VSOP aged in red Barrels marks it out as a particularly intriguing cognac. Moving on to the aroma, the impression that comes out is one of fullness and freshness. At first, the bouquet is round and fresh, run through by intense fruity notes. The aromas of fresh yellow fruits are gently coated by subtle mellowed woody notes. Once in motion, the power of the aromas grows and gains depth, with fleshier fruits such as apricot or peach chiming in.

Meanwhile, on the palate, these luscious fruit notes fuse deliciously with hints of wood and soft spices, as the harmony between the eaux-de-vie and the precious red barrels in which they were aged become more and more palpable. This combination of flavors reflect the perfect balance between delicacy and aromatic power of this exceptional cognac.

So, once again the oldest of the great cognac houses has successfully created a perfectly balanced medley of flavors through the new Martell VSOP aged in red Barrels. By showcasing its unique ageing savoir-faire, Martell showed the world that true elegance lies in perfect balance.