When La Maison du Chocolat and Rémy Martin decided to join forces on a Christmas project they were unprepared for how many similar taste notes there were between chocolate and cognac. The result creates music sweet enough to make your taste buds sing.
Pierrette Trichet, the Cellar Master of distinguished cognac maker Rémy Martin and Gilles Marchal, the Head Chocolatier of luxury chocolate house, La Maison du Chocolat, had an intense encounter at a vineyard in the heart of the Cognac region, determined not to leave until they had found the perfect pairings of cognac and chocolate. This meeting of the minds, in the cradle of cognac, marked the beginning of a two-year journey of collaboration involving a vast and varied team of people.
Speaking in London, at a chocolate tasting, Pierrette, exuding passion, said: “It really is all about team spirit. I was motivated by the long chain of people involved, from the person growing the raw ingredients to the person selling the product. Each has a different objective but within the same mission.”
The end product, Mystère des Anges (Mystery of the Angels) was named after the process of vaporization of cognac known as the “departure of the angel”. The result is a mesmerizing interplay of flavours and aromas between the chocolate and the cognac, fluctuating depending on in what order you taste the chocolate and cognac.
For Gilles, the die of his career path were cast early by his family’s passion for food. For him, chocolate is not just about the cocoa. It is about experiencing and learning about the culture and the spices that are local to the region of the plantation. These can bring subtle nuances to the notes of the chocolate and play an important part in the process of his creations.
Pierrette started her journey in the Rémy Martin laboratory as an expert on the chemical profile of cognac and moved from there into the role of Cellar Master. In this role she is perfectly poised to utilize her analytic skills and expertise to bring something special to the end product.
To recreate the high standard of blends that Remy Martin clients are accustomed to, Pierrette approaches the unpredictable range of eaux-de-vies produced each year with agility and an alchemists’ attention to detail. She noted: “It is like being a painter who has to create the same picture year after year, but with a different palette of colours every time.” And her responsibility is huge – some of these blends will only be ready for drinking after her lifetime.
Gilles continued: “The biggest challenge is to learn from my elders and then use and pass on this knowledge to future teams.” Creating the Mystère des Anges is a perfect example. The long journey from concept to the finished product was only possible through continuous exchange of information between a large team of people and the constant discovery of new things. He pointed out: “You can learn anywhere. Even in your local environment. Maybe the local farmer is doing something amazing.”
Gilles’ ultimate dream is already a reality. He wanted to complete the circle of creation by taking his finished products back to the plantation, allowing the growers to discover the result of what they started on their soil. In fact, Gilles visits plantations every year, working closely with growers who still employ ancient methods of farming. Although not certified organic, Gilles is confident that the authenticity applied at plantations guarantees a good and safe product.
So what is next for the duo? “Well”, Pierrette muses, “I am eagerly waiting for my invitation to go with Gilles to visit the plantation!” Summing it up perfectly, she continues: “Chocolate and cognac are made to be shared, they are not selfish creations.”
Mystère des Anges is a limited edition production of only 280 beautifully lacquered boxes. Only 20 have reached the UK and are being retailed in Harrods at £275. It contains 30 chocolates in three different varieties and a bottle of XO Remy Martin Cognac. The box itself is handmade in France and discretely branded, encouraging you reuse it for other things after enjoying the contents.