Loiseau translates wine expertise to Cognac11th June, 2014 by Gabriel Savage
Rémy Martin’s new cellar master Baptiste Loiseau has explained how his background in winemaking helped to propel him into one of the top jobs in Cognac.
Having joined the Rémy Martin team in 2007, Loiseau was announced last year as the successor to Pierrette Trichet, who officially retired this spring after 38 years with the house.
Although Cognac-born, Loiseau specialised in winemaking at Montpellier University and worked first for an estate in Pessac-Leognan before joining the Rupert & Rothschild venture in Franschoek. His final wine role was “more on the oenology and chemistry side than terroir” for a large winery in Marlborough.
It was this final role, which involved work on preserving aromas in Sauvignon Blanc, that Loiseau highlighted as particularly valuable experience for his career shift back home to Cognac.
“If you want to have aromas in aged eau-de-vie they are coming from the wine,” he told the drinks business. “If you don’t have quality in the wine then you won’t have anything.”
Elaborating further on this theme, Loiseau noted: “Looking at the quality of the yeast has allowed me to get these aromas. Also, the harvest and fermentation process must be quick to preserve those aromas in the wine. We ask our growers to make the distillation as soon as possible after fermentation.”
However, Loiseau also noted the learning curve required to transfer his skills to the Cognac industry. “My experience was more in wine so I was more used to the sensation of taste and on the palate,” he remarked. “With eau-de-vie it’s more on the nose; you have to have the vision of how it will taste. For me that was a challenge to adapt to.”
Meanwhile Trichet outlined the attributes which led her to recommend Loiseau as her successor. “I chose him as cellar master for his obvious technical skills, his tasting ability and his passion, but also on top of that the human quality he has that represents very well the Rémy Martin style and values,” she explained. “I have a lot of trust in him and you can as well.”
Despite this regime change, Loiseau insisted that he would not be making any changes to the Rémy Martin house style. “I can experiment,” he noted, “but Pierrette says I must follow how it ages very carefully.”