Baptiste’s expertise and experience guarantees Rémy Martin’s success
Born in Cognac on 14 September 1980, Baptiste Loiseau is a genuine and committed enthusiast, immersed in the love of his work.
PierretteTrichet describes him as someone who demands a great deal of himself and of others, and who loves a challenge. She adds: “He chose the House of Rémy Martin and the House of Rémy Martin chose him. As well as his obvious skills, he has the moral and emotional intelligence needed to be a cellar master.”
Baptiste has had a love of the earth from an early age. As a child, he spent much of his time with his grandparents, who were market gardeners. His memories also take him back to his childhood village at the time of the grape harvest. This passion for nature was the starting point for his career.
His professional life has more than lived up to his intellectual and human qualities. Determined and hard-working, Baptiste began his career in Pessac Léognan, then moved to South Africa and New Zealand before joining the BNIC – Bureau National Interprofessional du Cognac – as an experimental engineer in 2005. He was responsible for finding ways of improving the quality of Cognac wines through a rigorous analysis of the relationships between the soil, the climate and wine-making techniques.
It was in this role that he joined Rémy Martin in 2007 as a consulting project engineer. He became a member of the Tasting Committee, first as an apprentice and then as an expert. As Baptiste himself says, “I matured at Rémy Martin.” The position gave him access to an extraordinary palette of eaux-de-vie samples: 1,500 to 2,000 to be tasted in five months. Alongside PierretteTrichet, Baptiste learned to taste, select and blend with a rare finesse that only a real cellar master can feel and achieve.
He was appointed deputy cellar master in 2011 and cellar master in spring 2014.
Remaining close to the world of wine-growing and always careful in his choices, Baptiste Loiseau combines expertise with experience. His qualities are the guarantee of the Rémy Martin style for future generations.
Shanghai Daily had a chance to sit down with Baptiste Loiseau. The following is part of the conversation.
1/Baptiste Loiseau, who are you?
I come from Cognac, and I am passionate about the region, its products and its terroir. My love of wine and cognac is an integral part of my roots. I have often been told that I am very demanding of myself and others.
2/Was being a cellar master a childhood dream?
You are not born a cellar master, you become one. But it’s true that I discovered and loved the world of the soil and of wine at a very young age. When I was little, I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandparents, who were market gardeners. As a child I went to the presses with them to taste the grape juice, and I remember the grape harvests. At about 20 I wondered whether I might take over the business of my extraordinary elders.
3/You took the royal route. What did you learn from your studies?
While taking preparatory courses at the Lycée Pierre de Fermat in Toulouse (France), I learned to work independently with a high level of concentration and an ability to forge relationships. When I went to INAPG and then ENSAM, I knew I wanted to specialise in wine- growing and oenology, whereas when I was starting out I wanted to do biology research. It was my studies, my family and my meetings with distillers from Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne that brought me back to Cognac. But the place where I have learnt the most is at Rémy Martin.
4/What has PierretteTrichet taught you?
PierretteTrichet has taught me to taste new eaux-de-vie, to recognise the Rémy Martin house style and to always demand the highest possible quality. She has given me a clearer vision of ageing and introduced me to the finer points of barrels. She has laid the bricks one by one, and together we have built on these foundations.
5/What is your relationship with PierretteTrichet? Do you see yourself as her heir, or do you have your own style?
I admire PierretteTrichet hugely – she is a remarkable and very generous woman. I was hungry for knowledge, and she wanted to pass on her expertise. She took me as far as she knew she could take me. Our relationship is thus the fruit of a genuine and sincere meeting of minds. We became close very quickly. We share a passion for nature, a love of work and a taste for simplicity. But we are of course different, and we both have our own strong personalities. Pierrette often tells me I am real enthusiast, with everything that brings with it in terms of passion and commitment.
6/How would you describe the job of a cellar master, and what qualities are essential for the role?
The mission of a cellar master is to guarantee the consistent quality of a range and to create cognacs that respect the House style.
A major part of my job involves working with my nose, from selecting eaux-de-vie to tasting, along with managing the processes of ageing and blending. I am lucky in that I am sensitive to aromas, both in everyday life and in my work.
You also have to be curious and inventive to do this job, because a cellar master is more than just the “guardian at the temple door” that people often imagine. Above all, you need to be a visionary, because you have to prepare the House’s future in the medium and long term. This requires constant work and constant self-questioning.
7/What is your favourite part of your job?
What drives me and motivates me is the joint tasting sessions, although obviously I am very attached to the solitary task of assembling the blends. I also get a lot of satisfaction from meeting our suppliers, and I place great importance on our relationships. Behind each eau- de-vie is a producer and thus a person. This is one of the features of the House of Rémy Martin, this very strong link with people.
8/What do you like doing when you are not at work?
I love spending time with my wife and daughter. We often go out bargain-hunting at weekends, touring the flea markets. I also love visiting vineyards and cellars, because the world of wine fascinates me. I like travelling, going to the other side of the world and going for long walks. That’s the only way I can really switch off. And when I’m at home I love cooking, with a preference for baking. One of my favourite recipes is cookies made with brown sugar. I also enjoy reading.
9/What do you like reading? Who are your favourite authors?
I especially like novels describing the recent history of certain countries, such as the books of André Brink and JM Coetzee about South Africa. I’m also a fan of crime thrillers. My bedtime reading is often Fred Vargas, CarylFerey or ArnaldurIndridason.
10/If you were a chef, who would you like to be?
Why not Marc Veyrat for his extraordinary work with nature and his incomparable creativity in revealing the flavours of plants and aromatic herbs. Being mad about desserts, I would also like to immerse myself in the world of Pierre Hermé. Cognac is an ideal ingredient for these encounters between unusual flavours waiting to be invented.
11/And if you were a piece of music?
Without hesitation, I would be “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, a song that never fails to make me smile. But I also love artists like the British singer David Gray, who has an exceptional voice, and the wonderful compositions of Perry Blake.
12/You spoke a little earlier about your passion for wine. What do cognac and wine have in common?
Cognac, like wine, requires total control at every stage of its development. The other point they have in common is the quality of time, which gives a great wine its nobility and magnifies the virtues of the best cognacs. Behind every great wine and every great cognac is a man or woman who shares the same love for the terroir, the precious earth that gives its own unique grapes. And what would the passion be without the pleasure of tasting them, presenting them and sharing them with friends!
13/What has been your most outstanding memory at Rémy Martin so far?
My greatest thrill was undoubtedly tasting the oldest Grande Champagne cognac, real treasures of our ageing cellars, in late 2010 with PierretteTrichet. I also have fantastic memories of a trip to Udaipur in India to present the Louis XIII Rare Cask 42.6. It was a wonderful experience of sharing and exchange.
14/What are your dreams as the cellar master at the House of Rémy Martin?
I have lots, of course! First I want to be a credit to everyone who chose me. I also want to perpetuate the Rémy Martin house style with respect for its traditions and its wine-growers by continuing to combine the incredible skills of the past with the innovation required to create new blends. Finally, I want to keep my own identity.
15/When did you choose Baptiste Loiseau as your successor, and on what basis?
I started preparing my succession seriously in 2009, but even when I hired Baptiste Loiseau in 2007 I could see he had a definite talent. He was always the last one to stay behind in the tasting room or talk late in the evening in the car park, asking a thousand and one questions, and the first one to solve the problem the following morning. In other words, as soon as I met him he was asking the right questions and giving the right answers. Two years later I asked him if he would agree to take my place. He opened his eyes wide in surprise, because he is deeply modest, like all great talents, but he said yes. And so for four years I taught him all I knew.
16/What is this talent you mention?
Baptiste’s determination to succeed, his sensitivity, his maturity, his capacity for work, his accurate and confirmed taste, his love of wine-growing and his excellent understanding of the Rémy Martin style are some of his immense qualities. But that’s not all: Baptiste is gifted for human relationships and will be an excellent ambassador for the House. In other words, he is skilled in both being and transmission, which is essential for a cellar master.
17/What is Baptiste Loiseau’s style?
Baptiste Loiseau is very curious, hard-working and demanding. He is very sure of his judgements and very direct in his relationships with people and things. I admire this directness very much. We do not have exactly the same vocabulary, as he is thirty years younger than me, but although we differ in form we agree on the essential. We are perfectly united when it comes to deciphering an eau-de-vie or describing an aroma. We also share a taste for simplicity and a love of nature and walks. Our closeness goes well beyond a simple professional relationship; it is a bond of mutual respect and friendship.