In southwestern France hosts serve foie gras, duck confit, and wild mushrooms and pour Armagnac. This potent spirit is distilled using colombard, ugni blanc (aka trebbiano in Italy), folle blanche, and Baco 22 A. (Baco 22 will be uprooted soon, and plays no significant role), using old-fashioned stills, which some consider as good as those in Cognac, and others think to be even better when it comes to producing deeply flavoured and robust spirits.
As a visitor, you may be impressed enough with the environment, the local cuisine, architecture, and overall living, learn French, even sell your assets and move there.
Or, maybe just dream over a snifter of well-aged Armagnac in your own chateau wherever it may be.
Armagnac is aged in Gascony oak barrels and must be aged a minimum of two years (this product is only for use I France), three years of aging earns the designation VSOP or reserve, five Napoleon, or Vieille Reserve, six years XO, and ten years Hors d’age.
Gascony oak is also called black oak and imparts a more pronounced taste to the spirit.
The barrels are 400 – 420 litre in capacity.
The region is subdivided into – Bas Armagnac, Tenareze, and Haut Armagnac.
This extraordinary spirit is traditionally served in a brandy snifter, and enjoyed after a long and luxurious multi-course dinner
There are many small family-run distilleries, but only a few attempt to export, due to lack of funds and know how.
De Montal is one of the few distilleries that ages its hors d’age Armagnac for 12 years. It is smooth and round with a vanilla and tobacco finish.
The more interesting news is that Armagnac costs much les than its competitors farther north, and to some, tastes as good, if not better.
Here are some Armagnac producers you can rely on:
De Montal (available in Ontario and all over the world), Marquis De Montesquiou, De Samales, Domaine de Tariquet, Dupeyron, Darroze, Domaine De Baingueres, Chateau De Ravignon, Chateau De Briat, J. Goudoulin