$$$ — 40% ABV — ~10 years
Possibly the smallest of the four big Cognac houses, Martell has been distilling wine for just shy of 300 years. You don't stay in the business that long without a bit of wisdom, and Martell's it seems has been to hedge its bets. While many bottles may proudly print "Grande Champagne" along the front, you won't see that on a bottle from Martell. They blend grapes from both Grande and Petite Champagne, Fins Bois and most especially the Borderies. It's a blending that makes for a very complex product.
It's also a somewhat strange product. Lessened is the heavy raisin nose of a typical brandy in favor of the tart and heady smells of peach and violet. In the finish, a flavor commonly described as shiitake mushrooms makes itself known.
This is a great introductory brandy as while it exhibits the hallmarks of your typical cognac, it is also complex and strange enough to seize your attention — but perhaps not your wallet. While most VSOP's will be out of the standard price range, Martell is only just over the line. A very important trait if more brands are to be afforded.