The Baco grape takes a predominant position, particularly in the Bas-Armagnac. It contributes to the structure of our alcohols and gives full, rich and weighty aromas that require lengthy ageing in order to express all their roundness, full mellow flavours and length on the palate.
The Folle Blanche grape brings freshness and fruit in the first years of ageing. Along with Baco, this variety is part of the cultural heritage of Armagnac.
The Ugni blanc grape is an ideal variety for distillation and the Colombard grape completes the list of the varieties must commonly used in the region.
The raisins harvested in October are pressed and the juice is left to ferment in the most natural way possible, without the addition of any oenological products. The wine is generally quite acidic with a low level of alcohol; it is therefore able to preserve all of its freshness and its aromas until its distillation. The quality of an Armagnac is already judged right from the moment of the harvest. Great importance is given to the quality of the harvest and the wine grower must make sure to pick the grapes in their optimum state of health. It is this quality that will give us the finesse and complexity in the final Armagnac’s aromas.
This is the distinctive feature in the creation of Armagnac. We distil our wines thanks to a continuous alambic (armagnac still), that is to say that the wine is ‘burnt’ only once. This method, noticeably different from that used to make Cognac, allows the eau-de-vie to take on a typical style that reflects the glory of the terroir. During this magic moment, the vapours bubble in the wine and become enriched with aromas and alcohol. All the subtlety and aromatic complexity of Armagnac is explained by this exchange during distillation.
When the eau-de-vie leaves the alambic, it is still full of spirit, but one that is already highly charged with aromas : very fruity (plum and pear, etc.) and often floral (limeflower…). Ageing in wood will bring additional complexity and smoothness.
These first years are decisive and it is imperative to taste the armagnacs regularly to note their evolution. The ideal is to obtain a balance between the aromas, the tannins and the alcohol. Long years of experience have shown us that this balance is usually attained after 12 to 15 years.
The perfect balance between the aromas, the tannins and the alcohol.
It is at this moment that we decide in general to transfer our alcohols into older barrels that will soften and bring the viscosity known as ‘legs’ that we notice on the glass when tasting. This period of ageing, which can last for 40 or 50 years if well controlled, demands great patience. Time and time alone will allow the Armagnac to evolve.