Getting In To Armagnac

Cognac may grab most of the headlines when it comes to Brandy, but Armagnac should not be missed!
Jul 13, 2016
  • 10
    In prominent display on the label reads: "Triple Zero." What does that mean? Here, it means no reduction (addition of water), no added sugar, and no addition of colorants. All of these practices are common, if not encouraged, in commercially-released blends, but this is not a commercial blend. Four casks (1973, 1978, 1981, and 1990) were married for their respective qualities. These barrels were not topped up and thus the resulting blend has quite a bit of armagnac aged much over the 20 years that the label implies. The attention to detail does not stop here. The barrels used are from the estate's local forests making these a true expression of the Gascony terroir.
  • 9
    The Armagnac region Ténarèze often is unfairly called a second fiddle to its more famous neighbor, Bas-Armagnac. Take advantage! This is the land of well-priced, authentic brandy and the Chateau de Pellehaut produces a favorite Reserve blend that is quite serviceable on its own, but also has enough armagnac character to make an astounding selection of cocktails. In France a bit of club soda may do, but think of the deliciousness that an Armagnac Old Fashioned or Sidecar would provide. As is typical in the region, ugni blanc is the main grape variety, but there is a touch of folle blanche in the mix.
  • 8
    Pellehaut is a successful farm that produces grains, livestock, and, most important for our purposes, grapes. There is an ambitious still wine program, but the true star is the ugni blanc used to make Armagnac. The vintages are often aged at least 20 years before release giving the Ténarèze fruit an opportunity to fully bloom.
  • 7
    Pellehaut is a fairly large polyculture farm in the rolling hills of the Ténarèze region in Armagnac. Here, cattle and grain join grapes destined for both table wines and a superb collection of vintage and non-vintage spirits. In the 1983 bottling, the only grape used is ugni blanc, making this a somewhat rare monovarietal armagnac. Brandies from Ténarèze can be famously hard in their youth, but this is a mature, giving example with over 30 years in cask.
  • 6
    Chateau de Ravignan is a historic castle in the Bas-Armagnac region of Armagnac. Grapes have been planted since 1732, and the vineyards surround a church from the 16th century. This land feels out of time, and the brandies produced here have the same noble heritage of Louis the 4th. Because of the estates long run, the armagnacs are never rushed to the market, rather they enjoy a long slumber in the cool, damp cellar. This creates the perfect atmosphere for a natural, gradual reduction in alcohol over the almost three decades they spend in barrel. This is truly a craft affair with under 4,000 bottles made a year.
  • 5
    Blanche Armagnac became an officially recognized AOC in 2005, but Tariquet released their version in 2004 under the former name “Eau-de-Vie de Folle Blanche”. The four major grapes (folle blanche, ugni blanc, colombard, and baco blanc) in Armagnac are allowed for production providing they are from the Armagnac region, but only folle blanche is used in this bottling. It is unaged and bottled at 92 proof.
  • 4
    This Vintage Armagnac was distilled from fruit from the 1993 harvest on the Tariquet estate's vineyards. The grapes used were ugni blanc and Baco. It was aged 17 years (bottled in Feb 2010) in French oak barrels ranging in size from 218-400 Liters.
  • 3
    Château du Tariquet is a family-owned estate which produces Armagnac from their vineyards located in the Bas-Armagnac in Éauze, France. This bottling uses 60% ugni blanc and 40% Baco grapes for distillation. Their VSOP is aged a minimum of 7 years in French oak barrels and is all-natural color.
  • 2
    The grapes used in the production of Tariquet Armagnacs are all estate-grown. In this case, 60% of the grapes used were ugni blanc with the remaining 40% comprised of baco. After fermentation, the wine is then distilled in a wood-fueled alembic still, the ugni blanc wine fermented and distilled separately from the baco. Though the minimum age for XO is 10 years as of April 2018, the youngest Armagnac in this bottling is 15 years old.
  • 1
    The vineyards for the Château are located in Bas-Armagnac and for this bottling, 60% ugni blanc and 40% Baco grapes were used in its distillation. This is the youngest expression of their portfolio and is aged a minimum of 3 years in French oak. This family-owned, independent estate produces both Armagnac and still wine.