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If you're dizzied by all the various types of brandy on offer, or you want to buy a bottle as a gift, read our review of this cognac by Martell.
The oldest of the great cognac houses, Martell has a celebrated history. The Cordon Bleu is testament to why this brand is still a leader in its field with an elegant, complex and impeccably balanced drink that brings leather and spice together with chocolate and vanilla.
Martell is over three centuries old with a history dating all the way back to 1715 when it was founded by Jean Martell. He travelled across the Cognac region searching for the finest eaux-de-vie and establishing relationships with winegrowers that have endured for generations and become integral to the success and quality of the brandy.
Jean Martell’s death in 1753 handed control of the firm to his widow Rachel Lallemand who grew the company with a strict adherence to striving for ‘only the best, without artifice’. The house began shipping to the emerging United States of America in 1783 and by 1808 the cognac was so adored in England that King George III allowed Martell to be imported during the continental blockade.
The Martell name has not only made history but has regularly been a part of it. In 1911 Martell cognac was served at the coronation of King George V of England, and in 1918 the brandy was served during the signing of the armistice that ended the First World War. Throughout the 20th century it has been served at various royal weddings and on historic state visits.
For Martell, the secret to consistently producing world-class brandies lies in a balance between tradition and forward thinking. In the interest of authenticity, the firm still uses traditional copper stills, only heating wines that have had all sediment and impurities removed; Martell is the only one of the great cognac houses to exclusively use clear wines for distillation.
After distillation the eaux-de-vie is transferred to fine-grained oak barrels, the same style the distillery has always used. Fine-grained oak imparts delicate and well balanced flavours, ideal for the gentle sophistication of cognac. The oak is taken from the Troncais forest, where the trees are planted so close together that the lack of sunlight stunts the trees’ growth, making for richly textured wood. Troncais barrels are also used in Bordeaux wines and by legendary cooper and winemaker Dominique Laurent.
The Martell Cordon Bleu isn’t shy on the nose, offering an imposing but balanced bouquet of cinnamon, prunes, candied fruit, ground coffee and marzipan. The palate is elegant and well rounded; full of big flavours without being overwhelming. There is vanilla and chocolate, along with leather and spice, chestnut and ginger, producing an altogether smooth, warm and sweet combination.
This review was last updated in September 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.