Whether you love or hate video calls, it is impossible to deny the convenience they afford. The events of the past two years have made virtual meetings and events the norm.
Never one to stay within the confines of “ordinary”, Martell pulled out all the stops while hosting its first virtual dinner. The Martell Chanteloup XXO Dinner is an experiential journey where guests enjoy a treat for their senses at home.
Benny Tsang, managing director of Pernod Ricard Malaysia says, “One of the things many of us have come to realise under the pandemic is how much we have taken time at home for granted. But now, we appreciate being able to enjoy many luxuries at home, and that is something we wanted to bring to life with the Martell home dinners. We want to bring the best and most unorthodox way of enjoying Martell right in the comfort of your home.”
A few days prior to the event, guests received their tasting kits via the most unusual delivery method: drone. Quite sizeable, helicopter-like drones found their way to us carrying a large, blue Martell box. This is certainly a departure from the usual motorcycle Grab deliveries and Pos Laju parcels that we are used to. The box contains stylish tableware and the drawer at the bottom of the box contains the main part of the tasting kit, which includes a snifter glass as well as mini bottles of Martell Cordon Bleu, VSOP, XO and Chanteloup XXO.
On the day of the event, dinner, curated by modern French restaurant Akâr Dining, is delivered to us. Brand ambassador Jean-Baptiste Gourvil leads us through the tasting of the cognac as well as the meal. We begin with the Martell VSOP, following the three-step tasting process: looking at the colour, nosing the cognac and finally taking a sip. With an aroma of ripe fruit and peach, the light-coloured VSOP — aged for at least four years — tastes perfectly balanced with notes of fruit and wood.
The starter is an Angus tenderloin beef tartare with a Martell emulsion, Malaysian herbs and sambal. This tangy dish is also slightly spicy, with greens such as ulam raja and kangkung, giving it an interesting bite and local flavour. The Martell emulsion adds another dimension and brings out the spicy notes of the VSOP.
Next, we taste the XO, a darker and older cognac. A bold blend of Grande Champagne and Borderies eaux-de-vie, the Martell XO tastes of red fruit with a long and intense finish. The most awaited cognac of the night is the Chanteloup XXO (which stands for extra extra old). Smooth and refined, this amber liquid has a nutty aroma of almonds and walnuts, and a fruity flavour reminiscent of figs, apricots and peaches.
The main course is gindara, also known as sablefish, with big head prawn and Sauce Matelote (a French fish stew) infused with Martell. Creamy and fresh, this dish is garnished with nuts that give it bite and help it pair quite nicely with the Chanteloup XXO.
To liven up the virtual dinner, guests are invited to take part in a tasting challenge with the final cognac of the evening: the Martell Cordon Bleu. A deep, copper shade, the Cordon Bleu has a vibrant nose and tastes of fruit and spices, with a long finish. Shown a selection of flavours on the screen — from peaches and grapes to all manner of nuts and seeds — guests are asked to identify the key flavours in the cognac for a chance to win a prize.
The meal concludes on a sweet note with Chocolate Soil, which features chocolate fondant, Martell caramel, pistachio sponge and more chocolate. It is rich, with the interesting texture of the chocolate soil. The tart, fresh fruit and the fluffy pistachio sponge balance the sweetness of the caramel. As we are all dining chez maison, there’s no need to fear being judges for shameless bowl-scraping antics.
To bring the fun interactive experience to a close, guests stay glued to their screens to see if they are the winners of a lucky draw. Prizes include a Martell Miniature Trio set and a bottle of Caractère, one of the few available in Malaysia. Since we are in the comfort of our homes, all that is left to do is bid farewell to our hosts and happily continue sipping what’s left in the Martell tasting kit.
This article first appeared on Dec 13, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.