Martell fights for the right to choose maturation techniques

Friday October 26 2018 by Vitisphere

Retailing for around $ 50 (approximately €40), Blue Swift “is not an innovation that seeks to undermine the image of Cognac”, claims Pierre Joncourt.Retailing for around $ 50 (approximately €40), Blue Swift “is not an innovation that seeks to undermine the image of Cognac”, claims Pierre Joncourt. - Photo credit : DR

"Nowadays, you can mature Cognac in Sauternes barrels, but not in Bourbon barrels. In my opinion, the difference between the two is minute..." claims Pierre Joncourt, operations director at Martell Cognac (Pernod Ricard group). Cognac’s second-largest trading company is not giving up. Its Blue Swift range is still very much a hot potato in the Charente region, two years after its release in the United States. Specifications for the Cognac appellation allow the spirit to finish its maturation process in barrels that have contained wine or brandy, but Martell's innovative product is not eligible for appellation status because its maturation was finished in bourbon barrels.

Despite a blunt refusal from the appellation authorities, Pierre Joncourt said: “It is our wish to join the Cognac category”, though he didn’t mention any dates. Martell intends to take advantage of the new innovation working group within the Cognac Marketing Bureau (BNIC) to support a review of appellation specifications. The group was created after the Blue Swift affair, and coincides with the development of the maturation process , including Courvoisier’s ageing of Cognac in sherry barrels.

Finishing should not be confused with flavouring

In support of a change to specifications to authorise other finishing techniques, Pierre Joncourt points out that “Blue Swift is made from 100% Martell VSOP Cognac aged in French oak barrels for 4 years. Finishing is a noble interaction with wood, recognised as legitimate in the specifications. Finishing should not be confused with flavouring!” Aiming to present its arguments in a bid to reach a collective compromise, Martell is facing a measure of caution.

 

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