A scotch whisky distiller, when asked recently if he made any blends, was gloriously sniffy and dismissive of blended whisky. It would have been interesting to see and hear what he would have made of the Johnnie Walker Directors Blends, which I got to taste last Thursday (November 28) in London.
Rémy Martin Black Pearl is one of a selection of rare cognacs up for auction at Bonhams on September 13.
After years travelling the world on a luxury cruise-liner in the on-board shopping mall, it was purchased by a South African bar manager, who trained as a sommelier. He spotted the bottle while cruising across the Mediterranean and, realising its importance and rarity, he bought it and sent it from Greece to South Africa for safe-keeping.
The cognac, a ‘Louis XIII de Remy Martin’, is made using a blend of 1,200 eaux de vie, between 40 and 100 years old and is aged in ancient oak barrels. It is produced from grapes grown in the Grande Champagne, at the heart of the Cognac region.
While all Louis XIII Cognac is bottled in Baccarat crystal decanters, only 800 bottles of Black Pearl are released each year. The distinctive bottle is made from black crystal that has a silvery gleam and comes with a stopper with a fleur-de-lys design.
Other exceptional cognacs in the sale includes two bottles more than 200 years old. A bottle of Pierre Ferrand Cognac, Réserve Marie Domain, from 1806 is estimated at £1,800-£2,200 and comes in a wooden box with a humidifier and hygrometer, and a bottle of Napoléon Grande Fine Champagne Cognac is estimated at £1,000-£1,500.
Another highlight of the selection coming to auction is a decanter of Frapin François Rabelais 1er Grand Cru Cognac, estimated at £3,000-£4,000. The decanter is cased in gilt, to appear like a giant pocket watch, and includes a functional time-piece at the centre.
Richard Harvey, international director of Bonhams' wine department said:“Black Pearl is a highly sought after de-luxe cognac and it is rare to see something like this come up at auction. With the cognac market increasingly buoyant, it is a pleasure to be offering rare bottles produced over two centuries ago and bottles with interesting provenance and presentation”.