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Martell: experimentation ‘crucial’ to Cognac survival

In preparing for the future, Cognac house Martell is aiming to create a selection of new grape varieties that will be ready by 2028.

Cellar master Christophe Valtaud said Martell will focus on exclusive products and elevated experiences

Speaking to The Spirits Business, cellar master Christophe Valtaud said that the brand was unveiling new grape varieties that could “thrive in an evolving environment”.

Valtaud also noted that grapes in the Cognac region need to be looked after and that without proper care, and subsequent eaux de vie, “they risk being lost to rising temperatures and disease” – which he cited as a growing challenge facing the Cognac category.

“When it comes to Cognac, experimenting in different ways to future-proof both the land and grapes is essential for survival,” he added. “We need to not only preserve a 300-year-old heritage but protect the future of our industry for years to come as well.”

When asked about how Martell was aiming to modernise the Cognac category, Valtaud said he wanted to combine the brand’s 300-year-legacy with “audacious spirits”, namely the recent L’Or de Jean Martell – Réserve du château collection, which pays tribute to French art de vivre and Martell’s heritage.

On Cognac and modernisation, he said: “We are reinventing the French art de vivre with exclusive products and elevated experiences, whilst simultaneously creating contemporary, bold drinking moments for international consumers.

“To modernise Cognac, I tend to make the inaccessible now accessible. I aspire to offer consumers to feel distinctive and unique emotions around Cognac.”

Regarding future releases, Valtaud said: “Each year, we will release a single, precious masterpiece of an extremely rare Cognac in a dame-jeanne [demijohn], transformed by an artist into a remarkable objet d’art.”

The Cognac category is at a crossroads where many producers are trying to shift away from a ‘stuffy’ image and appeal to younger drinkers through avenues such as streetwear and cocktail culture.

Valtaud emphasised: “Cognac is before all a question of close relationship with the terroir, with nature and with our roots.

“My goal is to reach out to more consumers by appealing to their personal sensitivity through Cognacs conveying always more emotional appeal.”

In the coming months, Martell will also launch a new visitor experience, Chai Tricentenaire, at its brand home in Cognac.

Owned by Pernod Ricard, Martell is one of the world’s biggest-selling Cognac brands.

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