THEarmagnac it is one of the oldest spirits in the world, its production dates back to 1461. Armagnac is an AOC distillate from Gascogne, an area of about 10.500 hectares in the Gers department. The three production areas are Bas-Armagnac (5.130 ha), Ténarèze (5.200 ha) and Haut-Armagnac (160 ha) identified in relation to the geological composition of the silicon-filled soils. The best spirits are those produced in Bas-Armagnac, with fine and elegant aromas and intended for long aging.
The production is based on white grape varieties, especially ugni blanc, but the disciplinary also provides for colombard, folle blanche, bacco, meslier, clairette de Gascogne, mauzac. The ugni blanc is none other than our Tuscan Trebbiano, which although it does not lend itself particularly to mechanical harvesting due to its ampeleographic characteristics, remains the most used grape variety, certainly thanks to its late ripening which contains its sugar content, thus avoiding particularly early harvests. .
It is obtained with a single continuous distillation with the classic armagnacais alembic still from which a distillate with 58-63% ethyl alcohol gushes. Sometimes a double distillation is carried out with the traditional charentais alembic a review, collecting in this case a first milky liquid with 28-32% ethyl alcohol and a second distillate at 70%.
The distillate is placed in new oak barrels with pink fibers of the area, with a capacity of about 400 liters, then decanted into older barrels. The aging cellars are more or less hot and humid. The Cellar Master reduces the alcohol content to bring it to the commercial value of 40%. Every two months they add small doses of petite eau, mixtures of pure water and young spirits reduced to 20% alcohol.
Armagnac is made up of dozens and dozens of distillates from different areas, years and aging periods, expertly assembled so that each one brings its best characteristics to the final product. The age classification follows some rules, but the fashion houses make them age much longer than what is established in the legal minimums. In general, it is advisable to choose a product that has been in wood between 10 and 30 years.
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Haut-Armagnac is the largest area of the 6.200 square km where Armagnac is produced and is crossed by the River Gers. It has a mainly calcareous soil that lends itself well to the cultivation of ugni blanc. Soils may sometimes have pebbles and silt. The climate is dry with strong temperature variations.
La Ténarèze is the "in between" area between Haut-Armagnac and Bas-Armagnac. It has both calcareous and clayey soils with traces of brown sands. The climate is intermediate between the two areas.
Bas-Armagnac has clayey-siliceous, acid soils with practically no limestone and with "sands" originating from a fossil oyster. The climate is mild and humid, rather rainy.
Today, single-variety products are often reported among the best Armagnacs. In this regard it should be remembered that historically, indeed traditionally, Armagnac is elaborated from a set of vines and this choice therefore has more promotional references than qualitative, with a real risk of a gustatory flattening.