Louis XIII Cognac - the king of spirits
Wear comfortable shoes (are veldskoene the new fashion craze?) and a hat, because we're going walking in the vineyards of the soft, chalky sands of Grande Champagne, Cognac.
I'm going to introduce you to my mate Louis, the 100 year old Cognac. Louis and I are very close and we've enjoyed each other's company all over the world, from France to Scotland to The Stack in Cape Town.
It's a one-sided friendship, granted, but Louis will be around for at least another 100 years, long after I'm gone, and that's cool with me.
Yes, whisky may be my main love, but to me, Louis XIII Cognac is the king of spirits. It has a depth of flavour and complexity unlike any spirit. Standing at the distillery on Tuesday, you can still taste the pear, plum, chocolate and honey from the Cognac you had at lunch on Monday.
Walk in the vineyards and you're standing in the same spot where, more than 100 years ago, the grapes used to create Louis XIII Cognac were picked.
In this throwaway instant world it's easy to forget there was a time when things took time. Messages were exchanged by hand-written letters and delivered by riders on horseback.
How much more careful would we be with our words if we took time to compose a message, knowing it would take days or weeks to arrive at its destination? It's the care taken by distillers 100 years ago that gives us Louis XIII.
My most recent Cognac dinner was at the private dining room at Chef's Warehouse, Beau Constantia. Thierry Arnold, the International Remy Martin Cellar Master (yes, his job is to travel the world talking Cognac) took us on a journey through the Rémy Martin Fine Champagne Cognac range.
Perched on a hill overlooking ripening vines, a seemingly never-ending vista of vineyards, a converted container was the dining area for a spectacularly good meal and dare I say, the best spirits and food pairing I've had. Ever.
Louis XIII stands out above all the great Cognacs in the world, and there are many phenomenal Cognacs.
Created by Remy Martin, Louis delivers everything one wants in a serious drink: depth of flavour and a sense of history. But hey, let's be real. At around R 55 000 a bottle it's not on everyone's Xmas list.
So, I'd like to share with you some of Louis' family members, his younger siblings.
Vusa Zaya, the urbane Remy brand ambassador, introduced us to the household. Produced from grapes from the same vineyards, aged in the same barrels and stored in the same maturation warehouses as the King of Cognacs, it's a collection of Cognacs with an unbeatable heritage.
The Remy family begins not with the traditional VS, the youngest of the regular Cognac range, but starts at VSOP – Very Special Old Pale. In Remy's case, the spirits in the bottle have to be aged for at least 10 years in Limosin Oak barrels.
We enjoyed this unctuous drink neat, with ice and in a couple of cocktails. Yes, Cognac cocktails. Superb.
Next up was the 1738, a recent(ish) introduction to SA and one of my top 5 best spirits of 2017, followed by the Remy XO, the big brother.
The company was superb, much like the Cognac, a well-crafted collection of people of different vintages, each adding a unique flavour to the event.
The moon was high in the sky when we left the Constantia hills, back to our homes, with our minds and palates somewhere in France.