“There are some moments in life that you just need to take the time to appreciate” – Baptiste Loiseau
Not much is to be said about the cognac Louis XIII as it really needs no introduction. This legendary cognac from France, with its hefty price tag tells a fascinating story — each bottle takes over 100 years to make. That, in our opinion, is a luxury that certainly justifies this price tag.
In my quest to better understand the world’s most famous cognac, I recently caught up with Monsieur Baptiste Loiseau, Cellar Master at the House of Remy Martin and Louis XIII, during his recent visit to Mumbai. Loiseau was born and raised in the French region of Cognac, in a small village of 20,000 inhabitants. His tryst with vineyards and cellars began at an early age as his village was surrounded by them. As a brand ambassador for Louis XIII, his passion for cognac translates easily and is quick to point out that the specificity of the region of Cognac lies in the quality of the products it produces.
As I admire the gorgeous Baccarat crystal decanter of Louis XIII, Loiseau tells me that cognac is a celebratory drink and that one should not drink it alone. “One does not just open a bottle of Louis XIII, only a few moments deserve this honour.” And with that, he promised to let me pull out the fleur-de-lys stopper of the world-famous decanter, a bit later. Just to put the precious contents of the decanter into context — a bottle of Louis XIII costs approx INR 4 lakh, while a 30ml shot of this marvellous spirit would set you back by about INR 25,000.
Profession: Cellar Master
We got chatting away and he told me how he assumed the rare and prestigious title of Cellar Master of such a prestigious House. He says, “No one is born a cellar master, you become one. It’s not something that I decided. It’s something that was taught to me step by step.”
Baptiste’s mission is “to be sure that I maintain the consistency in the blend, because it’s a question of time, blend and luxury.” It does, after all, take over 100 years to attain the perfection required for a bottle of Louis XIII. He continues, “From time to time, my mission is also to go overseas and to explain to people what makes Louis XIII so different in the luxury world. We are dealing with time. We are dealing with something that comes from the best region in the world.”
Louis XIII and India
“We realise that we are already growing quite fast in India. We are sure that there is a huge potential for people in India to understand the characteristics of Louis XIII and to feel this exceptional quality. We have also realised that it is the younger generation can understand the balance between maintaining tradition while still having fun and having the right to play with something new. The interest is growing and hence I’m here to explain to these people what makes Louis XIII so exceptional,” explains Louiseau on his role as an educator of sorts to the Indian market.
This is Baptiste’s first time in Mumbai and he tells me, “For us, tradition is important and the link between the Cognac region, Louis XIII and India has been strong from the very beginning, as we have records of some of the first decanters of Louis XIII being shipped to India. I have noticed with all the people I have met, clients, people who have tasted Louis XIII, etc. every time I tell the story, and every time I explain what I do, I feel that people can really understand the importance of the origin, where it comes from and the link between this tradition and the fact that the iconic decanter in Baccarat crystal makes this product even more iconic and exceptional.”
I Got To Open The Decanter
As we marvelled at the stunning crystal decanter in front of us, to my surprise, Baptiste asked me to help him open it! The feeling is unparalleled!
He then took me through the tasting process, which begins by holding the snifter up to your nose till the first notes of the blend hit your senses. “You go closer and closer and then you are ready to take the first sip,” Loiseau coaxes me.
“The first time,” Baptiste says, “you put one drop on your lips and let Louis XIII invade your palette. Then your palette will be ready for the second sip where you can really taste the second impression. Honey, nuts, flowers, and a silky softness are the first notes. The lighter aromas come first and then the rest follow later.”
My! What an absolute honour it was to be tasting this 100-year-old spirit with the Cellar Master of the house himself! My verdict: Louis XIII is really smooth if you drink it right and when savoured slowly, is very, very enjoyable.
An Unforgettable Experience
Baptiste also has his very own blend called ‘Carte Blanche à Baptiste Loiseau’, that was launched only a little more than a year ago. 7000 bottles were made and sold out. The second blend will be out next year as the Remy Martin family decided that they could really see this blend becoming a collection.
Our lovely morning ended with a small anecdote about his mentor, former cellar master, Pierrette Trichet. He informed us that the 27th of August, the day he stepped on his plane to India, marked the 10th anniversary since he joined her team at Remy Martin. Hence, he was thinking of her fondly that morning as he took flight to India to fulfil his duty as Cellar Master.
Till then, I wish Baptiste Loiseau a wonderful journey sharing his passion for Louis XIII with the world.
By Kristianne Mascarenhas