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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”?

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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”?

Salute


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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Re: ATN: Armagnac?

by Otto » Fri May 29, 2015 6:51 pm

Thread resurrection alert!

After rehousing a couple spiders with one being recalcitrant I felt I needed a drink to calm my nerves! :D So I opened a Janneau XO 10yo Armagnac - apart from the Larressingle above, it is the only other Armagnac available here.

I like this one, too. Again, it has quite a fruity scent, more so than I expected from one of such age after reading Hoke's comments. It's kind of like Tawny Port: sweet with plenty of dried fruit character but with an obviously oxidative twist. Not so much citrus as I remember the Larressingle to have been. It veers more toward an obviously oaky chocolate/vanilla/something sweet I don't so much like, but manages not to cross the line to something I would find annoying. One very curious but immensely attractive nuance is the slight whiff of mustard. I know that doesn't sound great, but it does bring in a much desired savoury element after all the sweet ones.

But how do you pros view this producer? Any good?

BTW, the most recent batch of the Larressingle Tenareze says that it's from a mix of 4-40yo. I'm tempted to buy that again, too.
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Re: ATN: Armagnac?

by Hoke » Sat May 30, 2015 11:40 pm

One of the "problems"---but what a problem---is that the armagnac producers enjoy the ability to change and alter their blends radically, and then offer them as each being a "one up" style. So Janneau, for instance, can offer several different explications of VSOP and XO, with XO potentially encompassing an exceptionally wide range---not only age, like the 4--40 mentioned, but different barrel regimens of any of those, and luxuries sucha as blending Ugni Blanc at 30 years and Colombard at 20 years, which would give one distinct profile (likely fresh, herbal and citrus to be simplistic) versus a Ugni Blanc at 25, a Folle Blanche at 10 and a Baco Blanc at 40, for again a quite distinctive taste. Problem is, they'll both be perceived as XO, which is a vague categorical term.

Makes them damned hard to compare, almost an apple/orange quandary. And that's within the same firm.

If you still have access to the Larressingle Tenareze, a comparison of the Tenareze and Janneau's Bas Armagnac would be a nice little experiment in terroir. Not conclusive, of course, as there are so many variables involved. But in a very general sense, Janneau has a rep for lighter, elegant and more complex style, where the Larressingle is more the youthful exuberance, earthiness and sometimes edgy roughness (rusticity, earthiness) of that region.

Shame that your selections are so limited because of bureaucracy and statism, Otto. Ours is only slight better, but at least we do have a better availability overall, if not nearly as good as I'd like.

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