The world of Cognac can be a challenging one and it’s helpful to know what exactly is in the glass when you’re ordering a glass of the finest. Wanted was recently in the delightful company of some fine achievers, amongst them Rémy Martin Cellar Master and brand ambassador, Thierry Arnold, and Marble head chef David Higgs, and they gave us a Cognac and food pairing masterclass while filling our glasses with Rémy Martin Fine Champagne Cognac VSOP.
What distinguishes Cognac from brandy? Cognac is a specific type of brandy produced in a very special region of France, just north and east of the Bordeaux region in the west and near the Atlantic Ocean. This had to be cleared, because a lot of people make the wrong assumption that Cognac is a generic term for brandy.
Why is it called Rémy Martin VSOP "Fine Champagne" Cognac? This term geographically identifies the origin of the grapes for this specific Cognac. Rémy Martin VSOP is a blend of brandies made from grapes solely from two sub-regions of the two "Champagnes". Rémy Martin sources its grapes from two areas called Grand Champagne and Petit Champagne where the most expensive grapes are grown. The chalky soil here produces the highest quality grapes. Cognac is aged in barrels and the brown(ish) color is from the wood.
What am I looking for in the taste? VSOP is smooth and doesn’t bite. The pale, hard chalky soil where the grapes that make this particular Cognac give it its signature taste. The reason Cognac is aged in barrels is to get the maximum flavour and smooth taste out of the grapes.
How do you pair Cognac with food? Introducing his Rémy Martin menu, David Higgs said pairing food with Cognac could be tricky because these were high spirits with big flavours. Plus, when you cook with fire and Cognac, the process absorbs a lot of the alcohol that you get from the spirit.
What makes for a perfect Rémy and food pairing? Serving the entrée of fire-roasted cauliflower was probably one of our best pairings because you can taste the fire.
Rémy and fruit: The lighter Remy Martin VSOP was paired with a fruit-based amuse-bouche. It was light on the tongue and appropriately gentle with the fruity taste.
THE ULTIMATE RÉMY MARTIN MARBLE MENU
Mini apple, candied orange, dried apricot and liquorice
Served with Rémy Martin VSOP
Fire roasted cauliflower, grilled kale, pickled cauliflower, beurre noisette emulsion, walnut dressing
Fresh fig, dark chocolate tru e, plum, fig marmalade, to ee, toasted bread and butterscotch
Served with Rémy Martin 1738
Grilled pork belly, braised cheek, smoked raisin purée, cumin molé, green olive, carrot
Parmesan cube, chocolate macaroon, plum, cinnamon milk tartlet, honeycomb and hazelnut
Served with Rémy Martin XO
Chocolate mousse, yuzu gel, spiced biscuit, burnt orange