Introducing Armagnac

June 27, 2010 at 11:12 am (Geek) (, , , , , , , )

by Ms. Christina Fuhrman

Everyone has heard of Cognac. Now it’s time to meet Armagnac the lesser know French brandy. Armagnac is located in South West France. There are three delimited regions, Haut- Armagnac, Bas-Armagnac, and Tenareze. Bas-Armagnac is the lowest elevation area, has sand soil, and some of the best producers. Tenareze is where most of the negociants are from. Haut-Armagnac has the least production, but is said to be the most striking area.
Grapey goodness. Eleven different grapes are approved for Armagnac production. For the most part only three grapes are used, the same basic grapes of Cognac. St. Emilion (Ugni Blanc), Folle Blanche (Picpoul), and Colombard are the fabulous three. The grapes are generally harvested mechanically and then made into very acidic wine. With the use of a continuous still the wine is transformed into brandy. The double distillation does not create a product as pure as gin or vodka, but that is a good thing. This is what you want. You want the flavor and character left behind.
Aging happens in black oak casks. This type of oak is sappy so it matures the Armagnac quicker than Cognac would. The casks are purposely no topped off to allow some oxidation. This creates the signature taste of Armagnac. No caramel or sugar is added. The age is indicated on the bottle. *** is aged for a minimum of two years. VO and VSOP spends a minimum of four and a half years in cask. XO, Vieille Relique, Tres Vieille Reserve, and Napolean spend a minimum of five and a half years in cask. Hors d’age spends a minimum of ten years in cask. Something to consider, Armagnac will not continue to age and improve in the bottle. Once it is bottled it is ready to drink. So there is no reason to wait. Open that puppy up and drink.
No special glassware needed. If you have glasses that taper towards the opening, perfect. If not a champagne flute works well. You can put it in a normal rocks glass, but you won’t be able to enjoy the aromas quite as much. Speaking of aromas…WORDS of WARNING…do not directly inhale. You will burn your nose off. First put the glass up to your chest and inhale. Then bring the glass up to your chin and inhale. This way you can smell all the wonderful aromas without assaulting your nose. Armagnac has wonderful aromas of toast, caramel, vanilla, white flowers, spices and more. There is always something delicious and exciting in every bottle.
So Very nice to meet you Armagnac.

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