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ATN: Armagnac?

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ATN: Armagnac?

by Otto » Wed Mar 12, 2014 9:19 pm

Larressingle Tenareze VSOP - 40%; c.45€/0,7 l.

We had a super thread (thanks Hoke, especially, and all others who participated, too!) on Cognac some time back. Now I tried Cognac's cousin, Armagnac. I have even less experience with Armagnac than I did with Cognac and do not know about sub-areas and producers and various age/quality-levels.

I have no idea what this producer is like in comparison to other Armagnac producers (due to no experience at all), but what I can say is that I am enjoying this glass. It seems a brighter style, more citric in aromas than the Cognacs I tried and it has a hugely enjoyable slight "rancio" touch. Yes, there are also those not so nice aromas presumably related to oak, like coffee and roast, but these aren't as strong as with most of the Cognacs I was told to try. It is very drinkable for a 40% abv drink, it isn't as harsh or as painful as expected, it seems quite round but it still has attractive grapey and citrussy flavours. It has an attractive woodsy flavour instead of an annoying one reeking of vanilla and char.

But since I am usually very much opposed to anything with wood in it, I do wonder if my delight is simply the joy of something new?

But what are the styles of Armagnac and who are the good producers and how do the different ages manifest themselves?
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Re: ATN: Armagnac?

by Hoke » Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:10 pm

Good on you, Otto. I'm a fan of Armagnac too. Sounds as if you've got a fairly young one there, but at least 4 years old.

Armagnac is different in four ways: first, it's inland/hilly/plateau rather than maritime, and there's less chalk/limestone in the soil. Second, they require only one distillation rather than the cognac pot still double-distillation approach (they use an early form of a hybrid pot still with a single short column, so they can reach sufficient alcohol intensity without double distillation--although they sometimes do that at certain houses as well). Third, the use one different grape, Baco 22A, that's not used in Cognac. Fourth, for at least their primary maturation, first year, they use a local "Monlezun black oak", then usually transfer it over to used lighter French oak after that for further aging.

Laressingle is a good producer so I'd say you likely have a good, representative style of armagnac with moderate age. Armagnac tends to be more focused on earthiness as it ages---sounds like your's is still well into the fruit zone, so young to moderate age.
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Re: ATN: Armagnac?

by Otto » Thu Mar 13, 2014 6:51 pm

Hoke wrote:Laressingle is a good producer so I'd say you likely have a good, representative style of armagnac with moderate age. Armagnac tends to be more focused on earthiness as it ages---sounds like your's is still well into the fruit zone, so young to moderate age.


That's good to hear. But this isn't the basic VSOP of their range, but the Ténarèze, which, as far as I've been able to find out, is a blend of 15 to 35 year old wines. Might such a range of ages account for the mix of fruit and rancio sensations?
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Re: ATN: Armagnac?

by Hoke » Thu Mar 13, 2014 8:14 pm

Otto wrote:
Hoke wrote:Laressingle is a good producer so I'd say you likely have a good, representative style of armagnac with moderate age. Armagnac tends to be more focused on earthiness as it ages---sounds like your's is still well into the fruit zone, so young to moderate age.


That's good to hear. But this isn't the basic VSOP of their range, but the Ténarèze, which, as far as I've been able to find out, is a blend of 15 to 35 year old wines. Might such a range of ages account for the mix of fruit and rancio sensations?


That could be...but I'm surprised at how much the fruit/citrus was showing if the armagnac was that old. Usually that would put it more into the dried fruit/candied fruit range range, and into the woodspice (which you're not a fan enough). Of course it's more in the blending and what the cellarmaster is attempting to achieve, so he/she could be selecting specifically for that citrus/fruit expression as he makes the choices.

Important thing is that you liked it; and I suspect now you'll try some more.
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Re: ATN: Armagnac?

by Otto » Thu Mar 13, 2014 8:43 pm

Hoke wrote:That could be...but I'm surprised at how much the fruit/citrus was showing if the armagnac was that old. Usually that would put it more into the dried fruit/candied fruit range range, and into the woodspice (which you're not a fan enough). Of course it's more in the blending and what the cellarmaster is attempting to achieve, so he/she could be selecting specifically for that citrus/fruit expression as he makes the choices.


Now that you mention dried fruits, it becomes obviuos: this smells of figs. Since I have zero experience with Armagnacs, very little wtih Cognacs, and really not much more with any other strong drink, I didn't realize it until now, but figs and dates are what this mostly smells of (apart from alcohol, of course).

Drinking wine doesn't really help with experiencing stronger grape-based drinks, so really you should read my note as that of a complete amateur.
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Re: ATN: Armagnac?

by Paul Winalski » Fri Mar 14, 2014 1:28 pm

If you ever get a chance to try Laberdolive Armagnac, jump at it.

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Re: ATN: Armagnac?

by Hoke » Fri Mar 14, 2014 1:32 pm

Paul Winalski wrote:If you ever get a chance to try Laberdolive Armagnac, jump at it.

-Paul W.


And I'd second that emotion. Trouble is, it's not easy to find. Even beyond the general difficulty with finding armagnacs, the Laberdolive is rarely seen.
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Re: ATN: Armagnac?

by Paul Winalski » Sun Mar 16, 2014 3:36 pm

We finished our meal at Bouchon in Yountville with some vintage Laberdolive Armagnac. It's the only time I've seen it in a restaurant outside of France.

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Re: ATN: Armagnac?

by Victorwine » Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:16 am

Question for Hoke,
Traditionally was “Armagnac barrels” larger than “Cognac barrels”?

Salute
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Re: ATN: Armagnac?

by Hoke » Mon Mar 17, 2014 12:25 pm

Victorwine wrote:Question for Hoke,
Traditionally was “Armagnac barrels” larger than “Cognac barrels”?

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I don't know about "traditionally," Victor. I know the cognac barrels vary, but the most-used size is 350 liters, which the cognacais think that gives the best spirit-to-wood ratio, whereas the armagnac barrel is 400 liters or greater.

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