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St-Rémy, Signature Cocktail Week

Today, to celebrate the second ever St-Rémy Signature Cocktail Week, running from November 14th to 21st, 2022 this French brandy held an immersive masterclass hosted by their Master Blender Cécile Roudaut. And I was lucky enough to be in attendance for all the festivities. This is the recap that celebrates the best St-Rémy Signature cocktails, bars and bartenders across Canada. Canada being one of their largest markets, with over 2.5 million bottles sold within last year.

As per their press release, “Cécile Roudaut is the Master Blender for St-Rémy which is one of the world’s most prestigious brandies hailing from France. She joined Rémy Cointreau in 1997, and after two decades of hard work and mastering the art of blending she was appointed Master Blender. She has helped to create some of the unique and limited edition blends for St-Rémy and maintains the authenticity of this iconic and historic brandy.” And on the date of this Masterclass, it was announced that our guest speaker has won the award for the vintner of the year.

As guests filtered into one of the private event spaces of the Vancouver Club, we were greeted with a welcome cocktail featuring the spirit of the hour. We were then invited to graze on a handsome meat and cheese charcuterie board.

Like the signature week, this is the second year that this class is being held, and the second time Cécile has visited Canada with stops in both Vancouver and Toronto.

As soon as the room was filled, guests were asked to take a seat before one of their specialty place settings, pre-set with tasters of the St-Rémy’s VSOP, XO, and Signature brandy.

As we milked our welcome beverage Cécile held the microphone and gave a summary of her background, including her start in cosmetics and how it gave her a familiarity with textures and scents that transitioned well to the world of spirits. This is where she holds her current post, and like in cosmetics, continues to focus on consistency in product for her each and every one of her bottles year after year.

We would learn what is brandy and then how St-Rémy came into the scene. Brandy is made from grapes and follows the same process as all other spirits. Pressed juice fermented to become wine in barrels, before being distilled to conclude as brandy. Unlike other brands that may use sugar cane and filler to craft their brandy, St-Rémy only uses grapes, sourcing the highest quality French grapes from the finest French vineyards. They take into consideration all the fruits of the region and how they influence the terroir, and in turn the grapes that go into the brandy.

Our history lesson dived into packaging, noting the originality of the shape of the bottle and its unique dark colour for its time and place. Then followed up with the pride Cécile has for the fact that how their Brandt tasted in the1980 is how it still comes across as today. It is her continuous goal to have the same flavour forward well into the future.

Then it was time to taste. The room came together to describe the fruits on the nose and the taste on the tongue, noting how rich the VSOP was from its many legs. As always everyone has their own palate, so take my notes with a grain of salt. I suggest trying each for yourself and coming to your own conclusion.

The VSOP was easy to drink, a versatile spirit that is mellow and smooth. The scent of vanilla transitions to its taste.

Whereas the XO is more complex with a fig and cherry scent that transitions to toffee and chocolate. Great neat or as the feature in a classic cocktail like the “Sidecar”, which we later got to try with a granular sugar rim.

Their Signature Brandy came with a video to explain their philosophy behind it. It is geared towards a younger market and non-spirit minded people; designed with cocktail crafting in mind. We smelled vanilla, coconut, pear and apple on the nose. And for smooth and oaky wood and spice on the palate. With minimal complexity this was a very approachable spirit.

And as a surprise, we were able to try their upcoming, yet to be launched bitters, and as an extra cherry on the cake. And in fact, Canada is the first to be able to try it. This is their Autograph bitters. They are still working out the recipe, but it is meant to rival the well known Augusta bitters. Designed with their Signature Brandy in mind, as it is great in an Old Fashion, and what is an old fashion without orange bitters?

In closing, this was a great introduction to the world of brandy, and a great Segway into discovering St-Rémy Signature cocktail week. For those interested, the participating Vancouver-based restaurants are listed below.

Acquafarina; Alouette Bistro; Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar; D6 Bar & Lounge; Elisa; Fairmont Pacific Rim; Gerard Lounge; Hydra Estiatorio; Loula’s Taverna; Mott 32; Nightingale; Per Se Social Corner; Published on Main; Rosewood Hotel Georgia; The Keefer Bar; The Pawn Shop; The Stock Room; The Vancouver Club

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