Leading cognac brand Martell launches Martell VSOP Aged In Red Barrels, a new expression of its cognac that sees its eaux-de-vie matured exclusively in casks that’s acquired a reddish hue from aging other eaux-de-vie previously.
Pernod Ricard-owned cognac brand Martell has been rather quiet in the market in recent time, but that recently changed with the launch of its new Martell VSOP Aged In Red Barrels expression. Unlike its other cognacs which is blended from spirit that’s been aged in casks for different periods of time, VSOP Aged In Red Barrels uses spirit that’s been specifically aged in “red barrels”. What’s the big deal with colour, you may ask. Technically it isn’t quite the colour that matters, as much as the time that the cask has previously spent to acquire the reddish hue.
For Martell, a barrel is called red when it’s been previously used to age other eau-de-vie from between two to eight years – the “perfect stage of maturation for both the wood and spirit”, the brand claims. Essentially the previous eaux-de-vie would have stripped out most of the strong bitter tannin that’s present in new oak barrels in that time, allowing the barrel to impart the desired wood influence into the spirit. If the previous eaux-de-vie spends more than eight years in the barrel though, it may have leached too much of those desired flavours leaving little for the next batch of eaux-de-vie.
Martell uses fine-grained casks that are coopered from oak trees – generally between 180 and 200 years old – sourced from the Tronçais forest in central France, which are also used by the great houses of Bordeaux to mature red wine.
What this means is that Martell VSOP Aged In Red Barrels is a lot more fruit forward than many of its contemporaries, with any bitter edge blunted and mellowed out by the subtle woody notes from those red barrels. Expect stone fruit flavours of mirabelle plum, ripe peach and apricot to dominate, accentuated by hints of subtle wood spices in cinnamon and clove.
Martell VSOP Aged In Red Barrels replaces Martell’s VSOP Medallion, and is available in all good retail outlets and bars islandwide.
Official Tasting Notes
Aspect A warm copper colour with glints of gold, giving it a uniquely luminous appearance.
Nose At first, the bouquet is round and fresh, run through by intense fruity notes. The aromas of fresh yellow stone fruits, like cherry plum and baby Reine-Claude, are gently coated by subtle mellowed woody notes. Once in motion, the power of its aromas grows and gains depth, with fleshier fruits such as apricot or vine peach chiming in.
Mouthfeel In the mouth, it has a full, broad attack and unveils the same intense fruity tones – small plums and honeymoon peaches and apricots. The fruity flavours are marvellously enhanced by delicate notes of sweet spices from the wood of the russet barrels – the very same barrels that create that perfect balance between the expressiveness of the eaux-de-vie and refinement of the spiced notes.