History of armagnac
Armagnac is a brandy distilled from wine that takes its name from the historic area where it was born. Great fief of Gascony county erected in about 960, Armagnac is attached to the crown in 1607 but lost its own existence with the French Revolution. A former county now covers mainly the Gers. Armagnac is known for being the oldest french brandy.
Production and consumption of Armagnac is attested from the fourteenth century. But thanks to the Dutch traders that his business is developing in the seventeenth century. To circumvent the english embargo on all wines in Bordeaux, the dutch, who pass via Bayonne, encourage the cadets to produce eau-de-vie distilled from their wines. They got to use the Armagnac in reserve in oak barrels to offset the bad years and we see that the “eau de vie” as a winner. From a derivative product from wine, Armagnac became a “stand alone” standard. Growers began to plant grappes in order to distillate their wine directly.
From 1909, a decree defines the area of production of Armagnac. In August 1936, the Armagnac gains its ultimate mark of nobility with the creation of the AOC Armagnac. Finally, on May 27, a new decree replaced the 1936 to update the conditions of production of Armagnac.
The production of Armagnac is located for the departments of Gers, Landes and Lot-et-Garonne. It is divided into three wine regions, which are all AOC: Bas-Armagnacin the Northeast, the Armagnac-Ténarèze center and Haut-Armagnac southwest. The West is surrounded by an oceanic influence, while the East is marked by the Mediterranean climate. The Bas-Armagnac Armagnacs are the most popular.
Ten varieties are allowed in the production of Armagnac: the top four are UgniBlanc, Folle Blanche, Baco Blanc and Colombard. The grapes are harvested in October and then pressed and then fermented. During the winter, growers conduct the distillation of wine, most often in an Armagnac still and are then aged water spirits in oak barrels. Except for the vintages, there is finally making cuts by combining eau-de-vie of different origins and years, then reducing the rate of alccol around 40 degrees.
The virtues of Armagnac
It is well known that alcohol and fats are not the best friends of man in terms of health. Yet always, the cadets who do not miss an opportunity to taste geese, ducks, foie gras, garbure, tannic red wines and, of course, the Armagnac tract… live very old and healthy.
The medical profession has addressed this paradox and found that our secret is a good balance of life: fresh air, a rich and balanced diet, food erected in lifestyle and reasonable consumption of Armagnac. In fact, even if the comparison can make jump some, it is not far from homeopathy! This medicine is indeed based on the benefits of eating in small amounts of toxic substances normally. Concede that a balloon of Armagnac is nothing small … But the art of Gascon living is based on the same principle of common sense: the abuse is bad!
And that is why and how, in Gascony, we like to enjoy a leisurely armagnac with friends just to enjoy life and enjoy these magical moments. Will we be described as chauvinistic if we say loud and clear that D’Artagnan, the most famous of our ancestors, the brave knight who embodies our values of bravery, valor and vivacity, drew already in the secret of his armagnac legendary temper?
How to navigate in the labels?
Professionals of Armagnac came together to clarify labels. They chose two names: that of the “Armagnac” for assemblies of less than five years and that of the “Old Armagnac” in excess of five years.
– An old Armagnac Vintage must be at least ten years. The year indicates the year of harvest wine.
– The terms of reference age, excluding vintage, at the age of the youngest eau-de-vie assembled in sections.
– Some trade names are still used as three-Stars two years over-the-VSOP more than five years, and the XO-more than six years.
Know how to buy Armagnac
Bottled Armagnac no longer changes, it is ready to be enjoyed from its commercialization. We can keep it that way as long to leave the bottle upright so that alcohol does not attack the cap. The indications of aging on the label of an Armagnac still concern the youngest eau de vie that can enter the assembly:
– “Three Stars” for Armagnacs at least two years aging in oak barrels account age 2.
– “VO”, “VSOP” or “Reserve” Armagnac for at least five years of aging in oak barrel: account age 4.
– “Extra,” “Napoleon”, “XO”, “Old Reserve” Armagnac for at least six years of aging in oak account age 5.
– “Out of Age” for Armagnacs at least ten years of aging in oak barrels.
Vintage, unique Armagnac, correspond exclusively to the crop year stated on the label. It’s also called a millesime.
Armagnac: accompaniment ideas
It is at the end of a good meal that the qualities and richness of Armagnac are best expressed. It is also the basis for the development of Floc de Gascogne, but it can be used in many cocktails, and naturally he marries with various fruits: plum, cherry …
Finally, the Armagnac is advised in cooking and baking. It is found in various derivative or associated products like the followings:
If you want to go further and complete your knowledge, we recommended the following books about Armagnac and the southwest cooking traditions in France: