Martell, the oldest of the major Cognac houses and the first ever to market an ultra-premium brand, is stepping into the hyper-premium realm in the United States with the release this month of Martell Creation Grand Extra.
The new brandy is the product of several years of work by the Martell cellar master Bruno Lemoine, using some of the oldest eau-de-vie on hand, and is intended as a tribute to the Martell founder. The company says it is a reinterpretation of the Martell Extra, which was first conceived in the early nineteenth century but never widely distributed. The new Grand Extra has been available in select foreign markets for about two years, sometimes under the label Triumph.
The House of Martell originated in 1715 under Jean Martell and passed through a family line, using primarily nutty and flowery eau-de-vies from the small Borderies section of Cognac. It was also the first Cognac to use Troncais oak barrels for aging, rather than the standard Limousine oak. In 1912, Edouard Martell created Cordon Bleu, the first of the ultra-premium Cognacs to be marketed on a regular basis.
The Creation Grand Extra joins a lofty segment of the Cognac firmament with a $299 price tag and bottle as grand as its name. The vessel was designed by sculptor Serge Mansau, known for creating perfume bottles. The bottle is arch-shaped with a chrome stopper and a magnificent initial M at the neck.
Appearance: Dark amber with hints of bluish green. Luxuriant legs.
Nose: The aroma starts out soft and flowery, then builds in fruitiness to an almost hard-candy bouquet.
Taste: Balanced fruit and licorice, but with the complex rolling effect expected from Cognacs in this price range: orange, bread dough and meaty nuts.
Finish: Hard candy returns on its forever finish, then comes a snap of cheese at the end.