For this holiday season, Louis XIII de Remy Martin and the Robb Report have created an extraordinary offer, one that just might take a distilled spirits devotee from the cellars to the heavens.
By Jeremy Lissek
What is genuinely rare anymore? True Love? Keeping weight off? Snow in Malibu? One may think of these once-in-a-blue-moon things in the attempt to translate what is impossibly scarce into the ultimate gift for the quickly approaching holiday season. For a car aficionado, it might be the Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic. For a sports card collector, maybe the 1909 T206 Honus Wagner. And for an oenophile, it’s probably a bottle of 1803 Château Lafite-Rothschild. But what about the connoisseur of distilled spirits? For the 2007 holidays, Remy Martin and the Robb Report have teamed up to offer an unsurpassed bounty: allowing one individual to purchase their very own century-old barrel of Louis XIII de Remy Martin Cognac, albeit for $2 million.
An old saying goes, all Cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is Cognac. Brandy, which is liquor distilled from wine (and sometimes the fermented juice of other fruits), is made in every country where grapes grow. But Cognac can be created only in Cognac, on the Charente River Valley of France, an Atlantic coastal region of some 200,000 acres, and just 100 miles north of the Bordeaux wine region. All winter, thousands of copper pots in barns all over the Cognac region gently brew delicate wines from Charente vineyards into crystalline spirits that ever so nimbly transmit the exquisite terroir of marine climate and limestone soil. The spirits are redistilled, and this second, high-alcohol distillate is transferred into oak barrels where it will mellow for years, gradually acquiring the famous amber hue that deepens with age. After 2.5 years, these spirits can officially be deemed
Cognac, or what is lovingly known as eau de vie (water of life).
As time passes, alcohol and water slowly evaporate through the wooden planks of the barrels (known as the angels’ share), concentrating their essences into incredibly diverse tastes and bouquets. After a few years, the Cognacs become mouthwateringly intricate. By 25 years, they are ambrosial. Sixty-year-old Cognacs ripen into a stunning depth of layered elegance. And at the century mark, the interaction of earthly elements has somehow created what only the greatest works of art confer-a truly heavenly state.
Louis XIII is that rarefied treasure. “Louis XIII uses only grapes from the Grande Champagne region, the finest growing area in Cognac, and ages 1,200 eau de vie up to a century in oak tierçons. The result is an astonishingly complex spirit-the ‘King of Cognacs’,” says Dana Nicholas, senior brand manager of Louis XIII de Remy Martin and Remy Martin Cointreau USA. Its full realization takes generations of aging, selecting, and blending that is a masterful process of nature and nurture. It counts among its admirers such notable figures as Queen Elizabeth II, Bill Clinton, Christian Dior, Francis Ford Coppola, Quentin Tarantino, and Sir Elton John. Sir Winston Churchill celebrated his re-election as Prime Minister in 1951 with Le Roi. And in 1980, after defeating Muhammad Ali to retain the WBC heavyweight title, Larry Holmes rejoiced with it.
As part of the Robb Report Limited Edition Series, the Louis XIII de Remy Martin offer is an inspired and unprecedented package. You, and up to seven guests, will take a two-day trip to the Hériard Dubreuil family’s estate in Cognac. There you will be granted access to the inner sanctum, meeting with cellar master Pierrette Trichet. After exploring the Remy Martin cognac reserves, you will enjoy a tasting from your own specially selected tierçon. And to top it off, Trichet will supervise its bottling into the iconic Louis XIII de Remy Martin handblown crystal decanters-each one engraved with your name or personal message. “The personal engraving of the bottles is a very special honor,” emphasizes Nicholas, “one normally reserved for royalty and dignitaries.”
So perhaps, as you bring that first glass of über-luxury to your nose and lips, you can look heavenward. You may not be looking at a blue moon, but you will certainly experience what might be the rarest thing of all… true contentment.