The LOUIS XIII Dynasty of Cellar Masters
The LOUIS XIII Dynasty of Cellar Masters

The LOUIS XIII Dynasty of Cellar Masters

November 2019

Since 1874, LOUIS XIII cognac has had seven successive Cellar Masters, each one passing down the unique savoir-faire they have learnt and nurtured over time. We brought together current Cellar Master Baptiste Loiseau and his three predecessors – Pierrette Trichet, Georges Clot and André Giraud – to talk about the role, the importance of time, the transmission of knowledge and why the LOUIS XIII Cellar Master must draw on the brand’s heritage while also thinking a century ahead. Each Cellar Master knows that they will not see the fruit of their work. They are a vital link in a human chain, working to transmit the legacy that ensures LOUIS XIII lives on.

“Today I set aside our finest eaux-de-vie as a legacy to my successors for the coming century.” Baptiste Loiseau


‘The Cellar Master is the guarantor of the cellars and their contents,’ says André. But, as Georges points out, ‘the role of Cellar Master cannot be learned; there is no school, there are no books. My role at the start was to learn from André, and what he passed on was his passion’.


For current Cellar Master Baptiste, who has a scientific background, it was about learning to bring an emotional side to the role. ‘Pierrette told me: “You have to leave the science aside, and let your emotions speak… If you want to learn, you have to understand the essence of the aromas of grapes and wine but at the same time, be by my side in the tasting room to understand the style of the House”,’ he recalls.


What happens in the tasting room is incredibly special to Pierrette. ‘We have this period between November and March when we taste, and this is when the Cellar Master must be absolutely visionary,’ she says. ‘We have all experienced this adrenaline rush, a moment of great joy, when discovering an eau-de-vie for selection.’


Baptiste agrees: ‘When we enter the tasting room, we don’t know if there will be one or more eaux-de-vie for LOUIS XIII or none at all. You never know what you're going to fall for’.

Dynasty of cellar Master
Dynasty of cellar Master

Does he worry that climate change, and the effect it has on the raw materials, is making the role of Cellar Master harder? ‘We talk a lot about environmental challenges,’ he says. ‘But this was always the case for André, Georges and Pierrette before me, who, by combining this scientific approach with human emotion, managed to maintain consistency. We have time and we have expertise. So I think we can be confident that LOUIS XIII will remain LOUIS XIII, and that we are armed to ensure this consistency of excellence.’

Although techniques and systems have, understandably, moved on and developed over the years, there are some elements that remain unchanged. ‘Something that has not changed much since André was here, is the assemblage,’ says Pierrette. ‘For me, it was always a wonderful creative moment when we came to assemble all the eaux-de-vie for LOUIS XIII – eaux-de-vie that were, at a given moment, selected by our predecessors.’

Vineyard in Cognac
Vineyard in Cognac

André, who is one of those predecessors, understands the unique relationship between LOUIS XIII and time. ‘Time is what allows an eau-de-vie to reveal its power,’ he says. Georges agrees: ‘Given the time we’ve all spent on the development of these eaux-de-vie – over all these decades – we must take time to enjoy LOUIS XIII cognac because to create it takes a lot of patience.’

Accepting that you probably won’t get to taste the fruits of your labour must be challenging for a Cellar Master. ‘I have in my hands this inheritance today, of which I know that I will not see the finality,’ says Baptiste. Pierrette sums it up succinctly: ‘I have often said that a Cellar Master is only passing through; he will pass the baton on. But he follows the ageing process with patience and passion, because he knows it will take time to create an exceptional product like LOUIS XIII.’