Grapes and Wine in Armagnac

              

 

 

 

Armagnac Appellation

In 1909 a decree classified Armagnac into three terroirs. These terroirs greatly influence the style of the Armagnac produced. They are:

Bas-Armagnac, with its capital city Eauze, extends over the Landes and Gers departments, and represents 57% of the vineyards. The sandy and silty soil produces fruity, light, delicate and highly praised eau-de-vie.

Armagnac-Tenarèze, around the town of Condom, covers the north-west of the Gers and the south of the Lot-et-Garonne area. It represents about 40% of the vineyards planted for distillation. The clay/limestone soils produce rich and full-bodied spirits which reach maturity after a long period of barrel ageing.

Haut-Armagnac, called "white" Armagnac because of the abundance of limestone, includes the east of Gers and a small part of the Lot-et-Garonne area. While viticulture flourished here in the 19th. Century, today it only represents 3% of the production.


 

 Principal Grape Varieties

 

 

Folle Blanche
- high-pitched floral notes



Ugni Blanc 

- floral aromatics & spice



Colombard
- herbal & grassy notes



Bacco 22a
- full-bodied & plum notes


GRAPE VARIETIES IN ARMAGNAC

The Appellation Contrôlée approves ten grape varieties, however Armagnac is made by distilling white wine vinified mainly from the following grapes:

Folle Blanche which is a low-yielding variety, prone to mildew and rot and today comprises less than 3% of total vineyard plantings.

Ugni Blanc that has largely replaced Folle Blanche and now is over 75% of plantings, comprising about 55% of the grapes used in Armagnac production.

Colombard which is not especially favoured for production of Armagnac and only 10% of production is distilled for Armagnac.

Bacco 22a, a hybrid, that is being phased out and while it represents 40% of the vines planted in the region, only 10% is distilled.

 

FACTS ON GRAPE GROWING & WINE-MAKING in ARMAGNAC

Size of the vineyards: 3,700 hectares out of available 14,000 hectares (38,000 acres)

Production volume: 19,000 hectolitres TOTAL SPIRIT(2007) 6 million bottles

Grapes: Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Folle Blanche, Bacco 22a

Vineyards:1,000 stockholders, 50 negociants, 9 co-operatives, 300 producers selling in bottles

Soil: Soils vary from sandy and silty soil (Bas-Armagnac), to clay/limestone (Armagnac-Tenarèze), limestone (Haut-Armagnac).

Weather: Mild winters and sunny summers and autumns, summer has average temperatures from 22 to 30 degrees C

 

 

THE ARMAGNAC RANGE

Armagnac is produced in different styles determined by a number of factors. The selection of grapes - both in respect of the variety and the quality, barrel selection, and the cellar treatment and length of cellaring.

 


 

 

Armagnac 
is usually between 4 and 40 years old, however at 15 to 25 years old it is considered to exhibit the widest range of different characteristics. Classified similarly (VSOP etc.) to Cognac by age.



 

 

Eau de Vie blanche 
The Eau de Vie blanche ( a white spirit) that has not been barrel aged and is usually cut to 40% alcohol. Marketed as an alternative to Vodka for cocktails and mixed drinks. It can be served between courses of a meal, (to refresh the palate) or with smoked salmon, foie gras or charcuteries.



 

 

 

Floc de Gascogne
Floc de Gascogne is made from grape juice and Armagnac (16% alc). The white or rosé fortified wine finds its place as an aperitif, with melon, foie gras, cheese or with a dessert.


 

 

 

Pousse Rapière

Pousse Rapière can be drunk as aperitif or cocktail, and is a mixture of sparkling wine and armagnac, somewhat inspired by the legend of the Three Musketeers.