As Cognac enjoys a mini-renaissance, Rémy Martin unveils a fitting collaboration
Written by Sam Coyne
A meeting point where the industry of metal and fire collides with the natural Ugni Blanc, Limousin and Tronçais. The House of Rémy Martin has married these concepts together by collaborating with Atelier Steaven Richard to bring a limited-edition XO Cognac decanter to travellers in duty-free.
First let’s start with the basics, the Rémy Martin X.O is the signature of the house’s cellar master. The expression was originally created by the former Rémy Martin cellar master, André Giraud in 1981 and is a blend of up to 400 eaux-de-vie. Today, the cellar master at the house is Baptiste Loiseau. Loiseau was the youngest person to ever be appointed as cellar master in all of Cognac when he took on the role in 2014, but that youth doesn’t mean he is short of artisanal methodology. He was chosen by the previous cellar master, Pierrette Trichet (who herself was the first female to be appointed cellar master in Cognac) and by the chairman of Rémy Martin, Dominique Hériard Dubreuil. Under the tutelage of Trichet, Loiseau learned to taste, select and blend with the finesse of someone far older.
So, Rémy Martin has history when it comes to pushing boundaries and changing preconceptions, and in a world where extravagant bottle designs and image is key, it’s perhaps no surprise that their latest collaboration involves working with an artisan that might not naturally spring to mind as you stand among the verdant land in Cognac. Collaborations between brands in the drinks-world, and particularly in Cognac are commonplace, but, on the surface, this one is a little different and it perhaps seems an odd combination. Steaven Richard’s metalwork and Rémy Martin both rely heavily on heritage and traditional techniques and this was surely a reason the partnership was born. Steaven is a French metalwork craftsman with more than 20 years of experience.
It was in 2001 that he, along with his team, opened their Paris-based atelier and since then they have combined digital practices with age-old mastery. For Rémy Martin, history is longer at nearly three centuries. It’s a business started in 1724 and run by two families with firm roots in the heart of Cognac. It’s also a brand that sees itself as being founded upon some simple principles: time and talent.
The two brands came together as they are both bearers of the label ‘Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant’ (EPV), a mark bestowed by the French state in reward for artisanal methods and manufacturing excellence. Steaven Richard initially redesigned Rémy Martin’s centaur logo to create a piece of work with vertical structures representing the Cognac house’s vines. Using a process called anamorphosis, it’s a meeting-point between trompe l’oeil and traditional techniques and it was this piece that inspired the limited-edition collaboration. “I took inspiration from Rémy Martin’s centuries-old connection with the soil – its love for nature – and something happened. Something approaching a revelation.”
To create the new decanter, which fits with Cognac’s growing reputation as the go-to-gift for spirits lovers, Steaven invented a method to emboss brass and create a golden texture that features the Rémy Martin XO motif. As such, the decanter has a new texture that evokes distinct reflections. The concept is exclusively for Rémy Martin and the pattern is also emblazoned across the giftbox.
Augstin Depardon, executive director at Rémy Martin, agrees that there is more to this collaboration, “This is more than just a partnership; it is the celebration of two worlds steeped in ancestral know-how, enhanced by the work of a team constantly searching for new ways to innovate. With Rémy Martin x Steaven Richard, we have captured the talent of both Rémy Martin’s cellar master and of a ground-breaking artist, delivering a unique work of art to share with our clients.”
After a roll-out in cities including Shanghai, London and Los Angeles, travellers can now get their hands on the limited-edition as it debuts at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport. Cognac seems to be enjoying a renaissance of late – garnering a wide fan-base including rap-artists, collectors and of course, those looking to treat their family and friends to a meticulously crafted liquid. With this widened fan-base, perceptions of what Cognac is are changing and collaborations, such as this one between Steaven Richard and Rémy Martin, prove that esteemed houses are delivering duly.