Maxime Pulci, International Brand Ambassador for the House of Rémy Martin, recently spoiled a lucky few in Cape Town and Johannesburg with an Opulence Revealed Experience. Stellenbosch Visio was there and sat down with Maxime to find out more about the history behind Rémy Martin XO and his favourite way to enjoy a glass of cognac. By Arnold Ras
From vintage cars to one of the world’s most sought-after cognacs. Why Rémy Martin?
I had a deep passion for restoring vintage cars. Then I decided to start an MBA in Luxury Brand Management for Food, Wine & Spirits. During this programme, a lecture was given by the head of the Rémy Martin International Brand Ambassadors team, where I became curious. Why Rémy Martin? Because this House is absolutely unique and uncompromising.
- Rémy Martin is the only major cognac house to have been founded by a wine grower, almost 300 years ago.
- Rémy Martin has been a family business since then, run by two families who share the same values. Therefore, to be part of Rémy Martin is being part of a family.
- Rémy Martin has made the radical choice of Fine Champagne, in 1948, that is the exclusiveness of two crus, Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne, the two most sought-after, which chalky soils grow the most aromatic grapes.
- Rémy Martin has bet on the magic of time, for our eaux-de-vie have an outstanding ageing potential.
- Finally, Rémy Martin has a signature cognac based on harmony thanks to the systematic use of distillation on the lees in small copper stills.
Today, 41 years ago, Rémy Martin XO was created. What gives this cognac its undeniable edge and flair?
Rémy Martin XO is not two simple letters. Rémy Martin XO is an invitation to expand your horizons and live a much richer life. It is an opulent cognac characterised by a rare aromatic complexity made from hundreds of the finest Rémy Martin eaux-de-vie from Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne. The style of XO is elegant and sophisticated, particularly rich and opulent, in a distinguished manner.
Now, what’s your favourite way to enjoy a glass of Rémy Martin XO?
My favourite way of enjoying Rémy Martin XO is on the rocks with a large ice cube as an aperitif or a digestive, where the ice melts, revealing all the complexity of XO. Adding one big ice cube will dilute the cognac and reduce the alcohol percentage, which reveals these aromas while making the taste more refreshing. The goal is that the ice cube melts slowly, revealing new aromas at each step.
Is there a right and wrong way to enjoy cognac?
There is no one particular way of enjoying cognac. We are noticing that consumers are increasingly starting to experiment with cognac and use it in cocktails, rather than positioning it as a stand-alone high-end drink. Hugely versatile, cognac is the perfect drink for a wide range of occasions. By yourself or when socialising, it can be enjoyed in so many ways: neat, on ice, or in a delicious cocktail… The choice is yours! It also makes a perfect accompaniment to a wide variety of dishes. Though each cognac may be unique in profile, the characteristic aromatic complexity of a Rémy Martin Cognac Fine Champagne never fails to surprise.
As the International Brand Ambassador, what’s your main focus?
My job is to train our commercial teams, engage with the existing and future Rémy Martin fans, and inspire through my passion for spirits and cocktails. Every day, I continue to share my love for people, luxury, culture and heritage through my role, while constantly exploring new places to satisfy my thirst for learning.
In layman’s terms, what is cognac?
Cognac is a spirit from the brandy category, made exclusively with grapes that are grown in the Cognac region in France, which are known for their exceptional aromatic quality. The use of the name Cognac is protected under French and international laws. It is an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) and there are three main requirements to satisfy: first, it must be made from specific grape varieties, such as Ugni Blanc. Second, it must be twice distilled in copper pot stills. And third, it must be aged in oak barrels for at least two years.