Armagnac is France’s oldest brandy, it might also be western Europe’s oldest brandy.
Using alambics imported by the Arabs at the beginning of the Middle Ages, the first cures of Eauze in the Gers region developed what was first known as a medicinal spirit. During the 12th century, a monk listed no less than 40 different virtues attributed to Armagnac, among which were : headache relief, stomach ache relief, and dermal irritation healing… Of course, since then medical progress has provided better solutions to these aches and pains. Nevertheless, Armagnac is still recognized as an efficient treatment for bloodstream and digestion issues, when taken in reasonable amounts.
How is produced the brandy used to make Armagnac ?
The brandy used to produce Armagnac comes from white wine distillation in “alambics armagnacais” (special kind of stills, proper to the Armagnac region).
We first produce a low alcohol (7% to 9% alcohol) and sulfite-free white wine that is then heated inside of the alambic. The wine evaporates in the copper vat and these vapors are slowly cooled down in the second part of the alambic, at the end of which wine has turned into a brandy that contains around 65% alcohol.
Then this brandy is put in the oak barrels to age. The liquid is often put in a very young barrel for the first months, where it gets a lot of color and tannins. After a year or two, it is transferred to an older piece, in order for its ageing to be slowed down and for the aromas to acquire their richness and complexity.
What are the grape varieties used to produce Armagnac ?
There are ten officially recognized grape varieties within the Armagnac appellation : Folle blanche, Ugni blanc, Colombard, Baco, Plant de Graisse, Blanc Dame, Mauzac Blanc, Mauzac Rosé, Meslier Saint François and Jurançon.