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
    10 Tariquet Bas-Armagnac VSOP
    85
    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.
  • 9
    9 Tariquet Bas-Armagnac Blanche Armagnac
    87
    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.
  • 8
    8 Domaine d'Espérance Blanche Armagnac
    88
    For generations Blanche (or un-aged) Armagnac has been enjoyed by the families that produce them and their friends but it wasn't until 2005 that they were “legalized” and made available commercially. This un-aged Armagnac is from the Grande-Bas vineyards of the legendary Montesquiou family. A blend comprised of folle-blanche and Baco eaux de vies that is aged and married in steel tanks for three months after distillation.
  • 7
    7 Pellehaut 1989 Armagnac Ténarèze
    89
    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.
  • 6
    6 Tariquet Bas-Armagnac XO
    89
    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.
  • 5
    5 Tariquet Bas-Armagnac 1993
    92
    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.
  • 4
    4 Pellehaut 1983 Armagnac Ténarèze
    93
    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.
  • 3
    3 Delord Armagnac 25 Year
    95
    Owned and operated by three generations of the Delord family, the House of Delord has been making armagnac since the 1890s when the patriarch of the family purchased a vineyard in Lannepax in Bas-Armagnac. Delord grows all four of the major armagnac varietals (ugni blanc, colombard, Baco blanc, and folle-blanche) without pesticides or fertilizers. They distill their eaux-de-vie on-site either in traditional continuous stills or in a double-distillation process. The new-make spirit of the former goes into older bottlings, whereas the double distilled new-make typically goes into younger bottlings. This armagnac is aged at least twenty-five years. Bottled at 40% ABV.
  • 2
    2 Château de Ravignan Bas-Armagnac 1985
    95
    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.
  • 1
    1 Domaine d'Aurensan Armagnac 20 Ans
    97
    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.