Cognac is booming
From New York to Beijing and Cape Town, the greatest cognac cuvées are sought after for tens of thousands of dollars. The amber brandy is living its golden age, as it is especially endorsed by Millennials who love it.
By Aymeric Mantoux18 avril 2023
The night falls on the Grand Canal in Venice. The Rivas slowly drive their guests dressed in tuxedos and cocktail gowns towards the Scuola Grande di Santa Maria della Misericordia, a church built in 1310 and restored after having been desacralized. On the ground floor, an immense Fellini-like buffet and bars serving cocktails created with Rémy Martin cognac, sidecar, or ginger. Clients, business partners, influencers, or media from 22 countries all over the world walk among a chic opulence. Then comes dinner time, at the top floor around a royal table headed by Marie-Amélie de Leusse, Chairman of the Board of Rémy Cointreau – the French spirit group which manages the prestigious cognac - and Jean-Phillippe Hecquet, CEO of Rémy Martin and Louis XIII. A three-course dinner prepared by chefs Chiara Pavan and Francesco Brutto from Venetian restaurant Venissa, a green Michelin-star known for its sustainability best practices, encompassed a few elements of black, a hint to the surprise revelation of the black crystal Rare Cask carafe by Baccarat.
Rare Cask? An exceptional Louis XIII cuvée, the most expensive cognac in the world, 50,000 euros for a carafe and only available in 775 pieces. This was definitely worth a global launch, ten years after the 42.6 Rare Cask launch in Udaipur. After desert, Baptiste Loiseau, the cellar master of the famous cognac house stepped onstage to unveil the Louis XIII Rare Cask 42.1 and announced that all guests would have the privilege of tasting this rare and luxurious liquid. “We chose Venice, he explained, for its rich history, its unique heritage and its artistic treasures which remain an inspiration to all creative minds.”
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Cognac excites great collectors
It is the third time only in its long-lasting history that the Louis XIII cognac presented a limited edition cuvée. Interested clients must go through the brand itself, as one must fill certain criteria to be qualified for purchasing the rare 42.1 Cask. A sign of our times. The crisis isn’t affecting everyone. While only a few carafes will reach Switzerland or France, with no surprise, Asia is the biggest purchaser with 20 pieces for Singapore, 20 for Malaysia, 100 for China…which has been among the most important markets for cognac for the past ten years in terms of direct end-consumer sales. “We are happy to be able to bring all our friends together in Venice, as these past few years did not make it possible, says Jean-Philippe Hecquet, CEO of the brand. Nothing has changed here for centuries, and the parallel is strong with our house in Charente”. Louis XIII, a universal and timeless pillar? “It is a unique product, incomparable, which has always cultivated its uniqueness”, ensures Deremi Ajidahun, watchmaking businessman from Nigeria who came with his family for the occasion, among a hundred and twenty collectors and afficionados who RSVP’d to the brand’s invitation, and who owns all the exceptional cuvées of the Charente-based house. The brand, just like its rare beverage, took its time to offer its “friends” unique experiences, which intertwine art, artisans, and poetry. “The entire day was imagined as an exploration, a quest of excellence and know-how”, tells Baptiste Loiseau, the cellar master who conceived the new ultimate Louis XIII iteration, rare cask 42.1. “In the style of our house, continues Baptiste Loiseau, it concentrates time, presents tones of wax, nuts, candied fruits, figs, and dried dates. It has dense foundations as well as a strong intensity of floral exotic notes, which bring softness, delicacy.” Louis XIII, just like the most beautiful conquests, must be earned!
Auction sale records
At the same time, on the other side of the world, exceptional carafes from the House Cognac Camus reach record auction sales. And Hennessy had its new carafe made by Kim Jones, the Dior and Fendi designer and currently one of the most important fashion designers. The latter revisited the Charente-based Maison, created in 1765. “When I saw how Hennessy bottles were wrapped, this told me a lot about the know-how used to create each and every one of them, and about the way they were handled. I was particularly interested by their story and by the fact that generations have this dedicated their time to improve each step of the process,” said Kim Jones. The objective? Speak to new client targets, including women through an exclusive and ultra-luxury collection worth 25,000 euros (only 200 pieces), as well as a wider audience with a more accessible carafe.
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