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At the core of Cognac lies the Fondation d’Entreprise Martell, where Maison Martell takes visitors on a journey through its heritage, savoir-faire and ‘angel’s share’.
Paris, Bordeaux and Cannes may be the more popular regions of France, but the southwestern region of Charante offers its own exceptional experience of French savoir-faire that’s worth a stopover the next time you’re in the country.
This is where the small, humble town of Cognac is located – and where the oldest of the great cognac houses, Maison Martell, finds its roots. At the core of the town is the Fondation d’Entreprise Martell, opened last May to offer an immersive visitor experience it calls Martell the Journey.
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Following the launch of the new @martellofficial Chanteloup XXO in Paris on Wednesday, we paid a visit to Maison Martell’s home region of Cognac to discover its steep history. Swipe left to follow along Martell the Journey – an immersive and interactive experience at the Martell visitor center – in pictures. . . . The new Cellar Master Atelier – now open for public tours! . > Our inaugural Martell Art of Blending Experience, hosted by none other than Martell Cellar Master Christophe Valtaud himself. > Storage facility housing medium-sized barrels to gigantic vats used to age cognac. > Creative installations detailing the process of making house-style cognac. > A mini art space portraying the history of Maison Martell. > Lunch and cognac cocktails served at the new Indigo by Martell rooftop bar. > Our toast to Martell, Cognac and the fruits of both contained within the glass in hand! > See more in our highlights reel. #MartellMY #Martell #MartellChanteloupXXO #Cognac #France
We were among the fortunate individuals who were taken on this insightful tour around the centre and historic Gatebourse site, in conjunction with the launch of the new Martell XXO in September (watch this space for updates on its Malaysian release).
Follow along our themed Journey through Maison Martell to explore its heritage, savoir-faire and Part Des Anges (angel’s share) below.
Heritage: Where 300 years of history are retold
Three centuries ago, Jean Martell left his hometown in the island of Jersey to start a trading business in Cognac. The year was 1715 when he founded Martell and settled in a stone house built at the centre of a square courtyard in Gatebourse. That very site stands proudly till this day, with the founder’s house transformed into a museum where we kicked off our tour of the Maison’s legacy.
Inside, visitors can access archives tracing the developments of the House from Jean Martell’s day through the nine generations that contributed to its success thereafter. Though the building exudes traces of the past with its cobbled walls and archaic interiors, expect to find modern illustrations and video animations here, making for a fun history class with Martell.
Here’s a fun fact we discovered, for teasers: did you know that it was Jean Martell’s wife, Rachel, who continued his legacy by expanding the business after his death? She remains a pioneering figure of the Maison today, inspiring a strong family spirit with her audacity and uncompromising philosophy.
You may also like: Inside the Chateau de Chanteloup, the home of the Martell family
Savoir-faire: Behind the making of fine cognac
After brushing up on history, we dived into the painstaking processes behind the making of Martell cognac through the eyes of a winegrower, distiller and cooper in the savoir-faire themed section of the Journey.
Conceived by leading exhibition designer Nathalie Criniere, the scenography comprises of life-sized digital illustrations and tangible replicas of paraphernalia used in the growth, distillation and aging processes in cognac production.
You’ll also get to virtually meet the Maison’s cellar master Christophe Valtaud (though we had the pleasure of his company in-person), as he divulges his role as an “orchestral conductor” who blends the individual expertise of each process to create a harmony of Martell cognacs. Fret not if you feel out of place with these simulations, a Martell expert will be around to guide you along with interesting anecdotes for a human touch.
Delve into an immersive setup of the savoir-faire (know-how) of Maison Martell here.
Discover authentic testimonies from a winegrower, distiller and cooper on the painstaking processes behind the making of quality cognacs.
A combination of videos, visual representations and creative installations (as pictured) make up the 'Savoir-faire' experience.
The 360-degree space within the interactive exhibition allows you to explore the terroirs of Cognac...
...simply by navigating the projected bird (the emblem of Martell) with the palm of your hand!
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What’s more, there’s a state-of-the-art space providing a 360-degree view of the Cognac region, showcasing the distinctive terroirs and the effect of each landscape on the resulting crus. From the rolling hills of Grand Champagne to the gentle slopes of Martell’s prized Borderies region, all of the land awaits to be discovered at the palm of your hand.
Part des Anges: A multi-sensorial experience to remember
At Martell, an unforgettable experience is one that should ignite the senses in every way. The Part des Anges segment of the Journey best encapsulates this with multi-sensorial innovations that are both interactive and insightful.
A key highlight is the large sculptural installation evoking twisted vines, where visitors are welcome to discover different workshops. Take your time creating Martell cocktail recipes based on your preferred flavour profile or learning the different colours of cognac according to their maturity, among the list of activities here.
The interactive workshops revolve around a large sculptural installation evoking a twisted vine stock.
One of the workshops include creating your own Martell cocktail recipes based on your preferred flavour profile.
There's also a workshop to distinguish the colour of cognac according to its age and maturity.
We got a sneak peek inside the storage space of vats used to store cognacs, where we got a true whiff of the "angel's share".
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The journey culminates with a tasting in the Martell boutique, where you can sample one of its three signature products: Martell VSOP Aged in Red Barrels, Martell Noblige or Martell Blue Swift. Better yet, why not buy home a bottle or two for yourself as a token of your visit?
Whether you’re an amateur or seasoned cognac enthusiast, your guide to discovering the oldest of the great cognac houses is found with this Journey.
Watch the video below for a sneak peek of the Martell The Journey experience.
Discover more: Indigo by Martell
You can’t really say you’ve gone to the home of Martell and not have had a sip of its cognacs, can you? Indigo by Martell, the rooftop bar at the top of the visitor centre, is the perfect place to soak in the serene views of Cognac – with a glass cognac in hand, no less.
The spacious terrace offers 360-degree views from the historic centre up to the Charente river bank, best enjoyed in summertime. You’ll find the complete selection of Martell cognacs on the menu, in addition to original cocktails and classic recipes. There’s also a selection of sweet and savoury dishes to complement your Martell of choice.
Indigo by Martell sits on the top floor of the Fondation d'Enterprise Martell.
Here, you can order the full selection of Martell cognacs as well as original and classic cocktails.
Plus, you'll get to drink to impressive views of Cognac.
Now, this is what we call a view.
Location: 16, Avenue Paul Firino Martell, 16100 Cognac, France
For more information or to book a tour, visit the official website at martell.com.