In the only cellar master interview for THE DROP campaign, we caught up exclusively with Baptiste Loiseau, the youngest Cellar Master of LOUIS XIII to talk about the magic of LOUIS XIII.
Is this your dream job?
Baptiste Loiseau: You are not born a cellar master, you become one. But it’s true that I discovered and loved the world of soil and of wine at a very young age. I joined the House of Rémy Martin in 2007 and really matured as a member of the Tasting Committee (first as apprentice and then as an expert) so yes, when I was appointed Cellar Master in 2014, a dream came true. I chose LOUIS XIII and LOUIS XIII chose me. I have been lucky to be selected by the previous Cellar Master, Pierrette Trichet, and by Madame Dominique Hériard Dubreuil (now former Chairman of Rémy Cointreau) to continue and safeguard the unique style for future generations.
What do you do at home to train your nose, palate and senses to be the best they can be?
Baptiste Loiseau: I may have a natural tendency to appreciate some aromas, but it’s a lot of work and training. Every day, I taste eaux-de-vie. I try to memorise aromas, to train myself by describing everything I can recognise.
So, I would say that I develop my ability to taste by working on it again and again. It’s after tasting a lot of different eaux-de-vie aromas that you develop your expertise as professional taster. Winter is the time when we taste all of our samples given by our eaux-de-vie suppliers. I will taste up to 2000 samples within a few months.
Why should people invest in Cognac instead of art?
Baptiste Loiseau: Cognac being ultimately an agricultural product and gift of our terroir, it is always subject to change from natural forces and causes. For a few years now, cognac has been under allocation because the region can only produce so much, there is simply more demand than supply can satisfy. Combining this with the rarity of LOUIS XIII larger formats or limited editions, not even mentioning the strict selection and long ageing process of our liquid, it makes perfect sense to invest in cognac. However, sharing an experience of LOUIS XIII is all about celebrating the now. It would always be my recommendation to enjoy with friends and family as every minute is precious, rather than keeping it locked and hidden for the future.
Each eau-de-vie inside LOUIS XIII cognac is aged for decades and each bottle is a blend of only the oldest and most precious eaux-de-vie. Can you tell us what it actually tastes like?
Baptiste Loiseau: LOUIS XIII is a wave, a gradual wave which is powerful and alive – the ultimate experience of the mastery of time. Tasting LOUIS XIII lets you experience time in waves that carry you away.
The nose initially reveals elegant and light floral notes of dried roses, honeysuckle, and jasmine. Then, come preserved notes of fruit, dried figs and even walnuts.
On the palate, the first drop of LOUIS XIII unleashes an explosion of flavours. You might feel this freshness and light mint sensation on the tip of your tongue, a promise of what will await you. Preserved fruit, figs, becomes softer and tinted with honey. Later on come heady notes of tobacco and leather. Suddenly lightly fine notes burst on the palate, fresh notes of passionfruit, lychee and thyme, and vibrant spicy notes of nutmeg, saffron and ginger.
This tension of density and lightness, elegance and complexity is what gives LOUIS XIII its unpredictable balance and opulence. Once the glass is empty, the body and spirit of LOUIS XIII remains. It rises in swirls, sensations turn into emotions raising forgotten memories, this precious moment makes us feel even more alive.
What is your favourite food to have with LOUIS XIII?
For special and celebratory occasions, I pair LOUIS XIII with caviar. The caviar’s subtle salty ocean notes allow every facet of LOUIS XIII to shine through. Leaving you with a creamy texture on the palate, this pairing reveals the heart of LOUIS XIII and that complex aromatic expression. Other delicious pairings are a gently salted and melt-in-the-mouth texture of Bellota ham, which echoes the suave texture of LOUIS XIII. Its fatty texture with nutty aromas is a wonderful match leaving a lingering finish. .
Because I have a sweet tooth, I always like to immerse myself in the world of Pierre Hermé who specialise in sweet delicacies like macarons and chocolates. Cognac is an ideal ingredient for these encounters between unusual flavours waiting to be invented.
Tasting LOUIS XIII is an experience in itself. What are your top 3 tips for tasting Cognac?
Baptiste Loiseau: I recommend preparing your palette and the glass before enjoying LOUIS XIII.
Place a drop on your lips first, to prepare the palate, and let the wave rise. To ensure the ideal preservation and quality, I recommend using the crystal stopper to display and serve LOUIS XIII. For storing, it is best to use the cork stopper to preserve the full aromas of LOUIS XIII for the next tasting. To protect the decanter, it must be kept upright and preferably in temperatures below 20°C, shielded from humidity and direct sunlight.
Finally, the gift of LOUIS XIII is best enjoyed with loved ones, family and friends. Let each glass of LOUIS XIII create emotions and new memories, which you can cherish for the future.
Of course, now that we have just launched THE DROP, I recommend you take LOUIS XIII with you and discover a completely new dimension, whenever and wherever you are. You can be playful and really let your own personality shine through, whilst discovering LOUIS XIII drop by drop, which is the best way to enjoy it.
LOUIS XIII starts with Cognac Grande Champagne grapes. Tell us about the sustainable policies you are undertaking during the grape harvesting process.
Baptiste Loiseau: At LOUIS XIII, the aim is to deliver the same quality of product we produce today in the future, and this continuous quest of excellence cannot be conceived without a sustainable approach. Every year, we must find solutions to new challenges by taking into account all the parameters that will have an effect on the quality and quantity of the grapes that will be used to create the final LOUIS XIII blend. Only by respecting the terroir, preserving biodiversity, and adopting eco‐friendly practices will we achieve excellence. Sustainability is therefore our driving force.
For this reason, we are proud of our High Environmental Value Certification obtained with the House of Rémy Martin (comprising Rémy Martin and LOUIS XIII). This is a voluntary process, overseen by the Ministry of Agriculture, which aims to create a global “integrated agriculture” approach designed to encourage alternative practices and reduce the long‐term environmental impact of farming. Specific methods need to be employed in our vineyards based on: biodiversity, phytosanitary (plant disease control) strategy, fertilization and water management. It is important for us to apply a continuous improvement approach to winegrowing, always striving to reduce the environmental impact of our activities, preserving biodiversity and maintaining natural elements on farms.
The HVE certification (Haute Valeur Environnementale) encourages winegrowers to be more aware, to observe the vine and other elements such as wildlife or disease. It brings about a better understanding of the soil and the behaviour of the vine. By observing and understanding the terroir, winegrowers can adopt a long term and more respected approach to nature. Thanks to all these commitments we will transmit our know-how and expertise to the next generations to continue the creation of LOUIS XIII.
Apart from cognac, what do you like to drink at home?
Baptiste Loiseau: A good glass of wine. I love visiting vineyards and cellars, because the world of wine fascinates me. Wine, like cognac, requires total control at every stage of its development. The other point they have in common is the quality of time, which gives a great wine its nobility and magnifies the virtues of the best cognacs. Behind every great wine and every great cognac is someone who shares the same love for the terroir, the precious earth that gives its own unique grapes.
What is next for you and LOUIS XIII?
Baptiste Loiseau: This is an exciting time for LOUIS XIII, and we have just launched THE DROP, which offers a new way of discovering and enjoying our beautiful cognac. Whilst it is meant to be enjoyed in a spontaneous and adventurous way and challenges the perception of industry and clients alike, it remains true to the essence and our DNA: our pristine blend of LOUIS XIII within a tiny 1cl bottle.
I cannot reveal more but will say that we are working on other exciting projects which cement the pioneering spirit of LOUIS XIII. Stay tuned.
To discover more, visit: uk.louisxiii-cognac.com
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All imagery courtesy of LOUIS XIII