Today I had the pleasure to go by an extraordinary exhibit in the legendary Burlington Arcade right in the heart of my beloved London. I tasted some of the most refined grand champagne and discovered the cognac’s bespoke tribute to the King’s mythical journeys through the ages.
The last bottle of the three ultimate masterpieces featuring a rare blend of Louis XIII, designed by Hermès, Puiforcat and Saint-Louis, will be sold at auction by Sotheby’s, in less than weeks with all proceeds benefiting The Martin Scorsese Film Foundation’s cinematic heritage preservation efforts.
During this private tour you will be able to discover
• A bespoke trunk hand-stitched by Hermès using the finest leathers and evoking a bygone era of luxury travel.
• A white gold pipette forged by the Art Deco silversmith Puiforcat for the ritual of service.
• A sublime crystal decanter and four elegant serving glasses — mouth-blown, cut and wheel- engraved by hand at the royal cristallerie Saint-Louis. Each decanter is etched with a 19th-century map of the continent where it is bound.
• A blend of LOUIS XIII Cognac enriched with a selection of the house’s oldest treasures from Grande Champagne, that each cellar master pass on to each other, from generation to generation. A very special spirit revealing flavours that are at once singular and complementary. A Cognac to savour and admire.
Completing the unique work of art is a beautiful book that chronicles LOUIS XIII’s mythical journeys that begin on a 16th-century battlefield in rural France but will touch every corner of the globe.
That ageing process takes time, but also a tremendous amount of savoir-faire, an almost mimetic genius possessed by each generation of LOUIS XIII’s cellar masters. The chais, or cellars, in which they work are dark, incredibly quiet places, the barrels in which the cognac rests covered in thick blankets of spider webs. As the alcohol evaporates over time, the spirit deepens and darkens, releasing a sweet and rich smell that fills the moist air.
With each passing year, the cellar master dips a pipette into the barrel and tastes something different. At 20 years, there is almonds, figs and fresh-baked brioche. At 40, candied plums. At 70, honeysuckle and saffron. All the while, he is blending different eaux-de-vie, searching for perfection through a process called marriage.
By 100 years, hundreds of eaux-de-vie have been married together, resulting in a complex, ineffable flavour. On the nose, it is elegant and floral: dried rose and jasmine — the fragrances of Grande Champagne. These are followed by denser notes like dates, dried fig and walnut. On the palate, the first drop of LOUIS XIII unleashes a ballet of flavours; the walnut and fig aromas soften with those of honey as headier notes — of wax, tobacco and undergrowth — roll in like a wave. The tasting is distinguished by a haunting, lasting finish. The century-long journey of LOUIS XIII has come to its triumphant end.
Fascinating, isn’t it?