Martell is a producer in Cognac known for its elegant, smooth brandies. It is a successsful brand on an international level and has the distinction of being the oldest in the region.
The portfolio encompasses around two dozen different lines from VS to XO, as well as vintage expressions. The VS, originally named Trois Étoiles (Three Stars) is the entry level product, and is used primarily in long drinks and cocktails.
Martell’s flagship Cognac has historically been the Cordon Bleu, which was served on the Concorde air service and the Orient Express. Martell also makes several super-premium Cognacs, including the current range-topping L’Or de Jean Martell.
The company was founded in 1715 by Jean Martell, an Englishman from Jersey. The business quickly began to develop and, by the 1780s, the first shipments to America were being made. It is currently owned by Pernod Ricard.
Martell sources grapes from across the Cognac region. The brand has had a particular association with the Borderies, the smallest of the Cognac crus. The Ugni Blanc grapes grown here in silica-clay soils are known for their floral aromas and are held to be a major contributor to the elegant, subtle style of the top Cognacs in the range.
Martell is unusual among the prominent houses in using clear white wines where all sediments and impurities have been removed. These wines are distilled in traditional copper pot stills. Fine-grain oak barrels from the Tronçais forest are used for aging, with proportions of new wood and levels of toast varying across the range. Once the eaux-de-vie are judged to have reached their potential in wood they are placed in glass demijohns to await blending in neutral conditions.
Eye: Old gold with copper reflections.
Nose: Intense sweet notes of vanilla and fudge are balanced out by a darker, spiced edge of coffee and cinnamon.
Palate: Truly nutty and spicy, showing some great woody characteristics. Well balanced and round in the mouth, with a superb long finish.