Grapes and Wine in Armagnac
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
- high-pitched floral notes
- floral aromatics & spice
- herbal & grassy notes
- 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 RANGEArmagnac 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.
Eau de Vie blanche
Floc de Gascogne
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.