Martell Cordon Bleu, the world’s number one prestige cognac, is celebrating 110 years of success by unveiling a striking new design, establishing it as the ultimate symbol of the freedom with which Maison Martell has reinvented itself and pioneered new expressions of cognac for over three centuries.
Widely regarded as one of the finest cognacs ever made, Martell Cordon Bleu was created in 1912 by Edouard Martell, the great-grandson of the founder Jean Martell. From the start, it was destined to be one of a kind: a new quality of cognac to be served in the world’s leading hotels and restaurants, with a unique taste and a bottle which – for the first time – bore a name, referencing the blue ribbon of excellence. Its legendary blend of more than 100 eaux-de-vie, influenced by the Borderies terroir, is emblematic of the Martell style. Instantly identifiable for its richness, elegance and finesse, Martell Cordon Bleu has remained unchanged for more than a century.
The distinctive Martell Cordon Bleu bottle, which was inspired by the slender cognaçaises traditionally used in the Cognac region, has become a symbol of timeless elegance. Today, it is revisited in the same spirit of audacity, with a new design that infuses energy while respecting the continuity imposed by the cognac’s iconic status. The heritage cues of Martell Cordon Bleu – the seal of the Martell family and the eponymous blue ribbon – have been reworked with vibrancy and modernity, with plays on different shades of blue creating a sense of dynamism.
The swift, the historic emblem of Maison Martell, which expresses the free, daring spirit of the House, appears both as a raised motif on the glass bottle and as a contemporary, abstract pattern on the box. The punt in the base of the bottle has been redesigned with an accentuated curve, evoking the famously round, generous taste of Martell Cordon Bleu. Finally, its name is printed in handwritten letters on the label to emphasise the unique character of this cognac and the almost personal bond it creates with its legions of admirers.
It is one of a kind – the most delicate XO cognac in the world, completely unlike any other. The first thing people always say to me about Martell Cordon Bleu is that it has a style, a signature, all its own. In fact, the launch of Martell Cordon Bleu in 1912 represented a landmark for the House, in that it actually defined the Martell style, with those luscious floral and fruity aromas characteristic of the Borderies, the historic terroir of Maison Martell. The other thing I would say is that Martell Cordon Bleu is approachable: it is a cognac that allows itself be discovered. In my opinion, that is because it was created not only by the Martell Cellar Master, but also by Edouard Martell, who was a real visionary, intuitively aware of what people wanted. Together, they came up with this extraordinary cognac – a combination of richness, elegance and finesse – which has stood the test of time
Absolutely! We still have a small number – no more than 10 – of the first bottles of Martell Cordon Bleu, and we open one very occasionally, just to be sure that the taste is indeed the same. Actually, something funny happened to me a few years ago at a Martell event in London. A client approached me with a bottle of Martell Cordon Bleu from the 1950s and wanted to know if we had changed the taste in the decades since. I crossed my fingers that he had stored it in the right conditions, because that can obviously have an impact, but I needn’t have worried – when we opened the bottle, the cognac inside was unmistakeably Martell Cordon Bleu!
It’s a challenge. At Martell, we pay great attention to all our cognacs, but none more so than Martell Cordon Bleu, for which we still have Edouard Martell’s original, handwritten notes. Our task is actually to recreate an entire sensation – not just the aromas, but the colour, the texture and so on. Quite simply, there can be no variation. Because cognac is made from grapes, there are obviously significant differences between vintages. That’s where the art of blending comes in: it allows us to overcome the impact of nature. Ever since 1912, the signature of Martell Cordon Bleu has been its high proportion of old Borderies eaux-de-vie, but it also contains a significant quantity of Grande C h a m p a g n e , which gives it its wonderful length on the palate. Without revealing all our secrets, there is a very specific order in which we create the blend to ensure that the fine, floral Borderies eaux-de-vie are not overwhelmed by the more powerful ones from Grande Champagne. There is also the precise time we allow for the blend to settle before we bottle it. In terms of ageing, we barely use any new oak for Martell Cordon Bleu. Its delicacy comes from the fact that we select s o - c a l l e d “ r e d barrels”, which have already held Eaux-de-vie and therefore impart fewer tannins. We have really mastered this savoir-faire with Martell Cordon Bleu.
Very which way: neat, on ice, with ginger ale! I have some great memories of meals in Asia when it was served with raw, marinated fish, which really brought out its smooth, fruity facets. Martell Cordon Bleu is also incredible with chocolate – particularly chocolate with orange, which accentuates its notes of candied orange peel. One of my favourite memories is of a beach holiday with a group of friends. We struck up a conversation with some tourists from the other side of the world, and we ended up inviting them to share a bottle of Martell Cordon Bleu. I said to them: “This is a taste of France.” We drank it on ice, watching the sun set over the ocean. It was amazing! I truly believe that nothing embodies French style around the world better than Martell Cordon Bleu.
Obviously, there’s the blend, the taste, which has remained unchanged for over a century, but there’s also the bottle, which is completely timeless. We tweak it now and then, but the essence of the design is what it always was, and that is very rare. The first contact with Martell.
Generous. Martell Cordon Bleu is all about conviviality. It’s a cognac that envelops you in smoothness and richness and warmth, with the result that it brings people together, as it did that day on the beach. Distinguished. To me, distinction is being elegant without being distant. XO cognacs are often described in terms of complexity, almost of difficulty, but Martell Cordon Bleu is a spontaneous pleasure.
Universal. Any Cellar Master dreams of creating a cognac so universally admired that it remains unchanged for more than a century, and the very fact that I didn’t create Martell Cordon Bleu means I can talk about it more freely. When I think that I tasted this cognac with my grandparents and that, in many years to come, I will still be able to taste it with my grandchildren, I find that really extraordinary, don’t you?
Martell Cordon Bleu was created by Edouard Martell, the great-grandson of the founder, and his Cellar Master, Auguste Chapeau. It was to be a new quality of cognac, destined for the demanding clientele of luxury hotels and restaurants, notably on the fashionable French Riviera. Accordingly, it was launched at the Hôtel de Paris in Monaco. Martell Cordon Bleu was an instant success, and its fame spread rapidly across the globe. By 1914, it was being exported to India, with Spain following in 1925, China in 1927, Denmark in 1929 and Korea in 1931.
From the start, Martell Cordon Bleu was destined to be one of a kind – so, naturally, it was the first cognac to be given a name, breaking with the conventions of the time, which consisted in simply combining the name of the House with the quality of the cognac. It is thought that the “cordon bleu” (blue ribbon) has its origins in a French order of chivalry founded in the 16th century. However, when Martell Cordon Bleu was launched in the early 20th century, it was perhaps more closely associated with the prestigious Blue Riband, awarded for the fastest Atlantic crossing by a passenger liner.
Blue has been the signature of Maison Martell since 1848, when it first appeared on Martell bottle labels. It is a reference to indigo, the plant-derived blue pigment which was one of the first products traded by the young Jean Martell on his arrival in Cognac, and also to the fact that the Martell's were a family of seafarers.
Martell Cordon Bleu is the perfect illustration of the philosophy of Rachel, the wife of Jean Martell, who – when she took over the House following her husband’s death in 1753 – reminded her suppliers that she wanted “only the best, without artifice”. This also applies to the Martell Cordon Bleu bottle, whose sleek lines recall the cognaçaise bottle traditional to the Cognac region. The shape has changed little over the years, becoming an icon of timeless elegance and simplicity.
To celebrate the centenary of Martell Cordon Bleu in 2012, Maison Martell partnered with Boucheron, one of France’s oldest jewellery houses, to create “The Ultimate Jewel” – a unique, one-off bottle crafted from the finest crystal, with a stopper in lapis lazuli referencing the blue of Martell, and the emblematic Martell swift represented in gold with a diamond eye.
Since this landmark collaboration, leading contemporary artists have been inspired by Martell Cordon Bleu. Mathilde de l’Ecotais evoked its uniquely generous taste with sweeping brushstrokes captured by cyanotype, an early photographic technique which produces vibrant blue images, while Mathias Kiss played on its iconic status by covering the bottle with an antique marble motif in gold and blue.