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General Guide for buying Vintage Armagnacs

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WhiskeyBlender

Hey all you Armagnac lovers on the forum, 

 

I've had several people ask me about whether particular years of vintage Armagnac are worth buying or not. Although I do know a number of really good years, I thought it would be more useful to give you some buying guild lines and some pointers so that if you see a bottle that you're interested in, you can do a little research into it and see if it might be worth taking the risk and springing for it. The truth is that while some years were certainly better than others for the quality of the distillation wine, there really is no such thing as a "fantastic vintage" for brandy, because there are so many other factors involved besides just the quality of the wine. Of course, I'm always happy to tell you anything I know about a particular producer, the general characteristics of the vintage year (if I'm familiar with it), etc. However, I think it would be far more useful in the long run for you to be armed with some general guidelines about what you should be looking for. 

 

1.) First thing to look for: the quality of the wine and the climactic conditions of a particular year. This might sound a little counter-intuitive, but unlike table wines, the wines you need for a good distillation tend to be high in acid and low in alcohol (as in 7 to 9%ABV). That means that when you are looking for a quality vintage Armagnac, the best vintages generally tend to be the opposite of what is generally considered a good table wine year. Thus, years like 1987, when the table wine wasn't that good due to inclement weather, would be good ones for Armagnac. Another important thing that determines the quality, or better yet, I should say "character" of the wine will be the quality of the soil base (i.e, sandy soil vs. limestone & clay). Thus, the Armagnacs that are from Bas Armagnac growing region have grapes growing in very acidic sandy soil, and these brandies tend to be a little more supple. Brandies whose grapes that are grown more inland, such as in the Tenareze, will have a little less acidity, as the limestone and clay has a lower pH level than sand. These Armagnacs will generally be a little harder and more "closed," but because they primarily use Ugni Blanc grapes, they may show a little more minerality, much like Cognac. Also, grapes grown in sandy soil with higher acidity tend to show better when young, while those grown in areas like the Tenareze need at least 15 or more years to develop to their full potential. FYI, you'll find on a bottle whether or not the EDV comes from Bas Armagnac, the Tenareze, or the Haut Armagnac growing regions. 

 

Finally, and I know this would be hard to research, but the sooner the wine is distilled after vinification, the better the quality of the EDV (industry-speak for eau-de-vie). 

 

2.) Outside of the quality of the wine, the degree of alcohol at distillation will have a significant effect as well. Unlike Cognac, which is distilled twice through a pot still and comes off the still around 70 to 72% ABV, most Armagnac is distilled in a sort of crude continuous still called an alambic Armagnacaise. The degree of alcohol coming off these stills will usually range from 52 to 60% ABV, depending upon the original alcohol content of the wine. Thus, the lower the distillation degree, the more congeneric content they tend to have. This means that they will show well after about 15 to 20 or more years, and will usually have more fat on the palate. EDV that have been distilled to a lower degree of alcohol will also be good candidates for natural proof reduction in the cask, while those that were distilled at a higher degree (60% ABV) will respond well to reduction with water or with vieilles faibles (fortified water between 15 to 30% ABV that is aged and then used for proofing). For those of you who have bottles of the new defunct Chateau du Busca Tenareze Armagnac, it is a great example of a EDV that was distilled to 60% ABV, spent its maturation life in a dry chais, and then was reduced to 40% ABV with vieilles faibles. 

 

3.) Another huge factor will be whether the EDV had its initial aging in new, quality oak, and then subsequent aging in used, quality oak. The staves in the casks will need to been yard seasoned properly (3 to 5 years if they use Limousin, and 4 to 6 years for the local Monlezun oak) so that the EDV doesn't taste too tannic, green, or piney. Also, it is important that the barrels are racked occasionally and then rediffused into other barrels. This is something that is standard to do in the brandy world, unlike with bourbon, where the spirit must stay in the same cask. 

 

4.) A producer's chai (pronounced "shay," which is the French term for rick house) will determine how a vintage Armagnac matures. If they have a dry chai, then there will be liquid quantity loss while the alcohol content stays the same (unlike here in the States, the proof does not usually goes up in drier conditions). The Armagnac will also taste a little on the "drier" side. Examples of producers who use dry chais would be Domaine de Boingneres or, since the mid 1990's, Domaine d'Esperance. For those of you that have bought bottles of Boingneres, you've probably already noticed the high degree of alcohol of all the bottlings. Conversely, some producers have humid chais, so the alcohol degree will drop more quickly, but the quantity of liquid will evaporate more slowly. These producers' Armagnacs tend to be a little rounder on the palate. 

 

5.) Finally, and this is arguably the most important thing to look for, is the reputation of the producer or negociant. That isn't to say that even the best of the producers will always release exceptional vintage Armagnacs, but if you do a little research, you'll more than likely be safe to buy one of their bottlings. Examples of very good producers would be Chateau de Ravignan, Domaine de Boingneres, Chateau du Lacquy, Chateau de Pellehaut, Laberdolive, Chateau de Miquer, Domaine de Esperance, and probably the best negociant is hands-down Darroze. 

 

6.) And for the question I'm sure everyone has been wanting to ask, even if there is no such thing as a "perfect vintage" for Armagnac, are some years GENERALLY better than others? Well, yes, some years have shown better than others, assuming that the subsequent production of the EDV was of quality. Some well-known years are 1946, 1964, some late 1960's vintages, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1984 (that year had heavy frost, so there isn't a whole lot from that year), 1985, 1986, 1994, and 2004. 

 

I hope that helps those of you who want to explore the world of vintage Armagnac to have some guidelines. Best of luck, and happy hunting and imbibing!

 

Cheers,

Nancy

 

 

 

Edited by WhiskeyBlender
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kevinbrink

As always Nancy, thanks for this, really helpful

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BigPapa

Thanks Nancy !! Awesome info!!!

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smokinjoe

This abundance of info is not something my brain can distill in a short time, but first glance at this post has me mesmerized with where I may go with more time and thought.  

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LCWoody

Good Info. Thanks for taking the time....

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WhiskeyBlender

I look forward to hearing about the vintage Armagnacs y'all buy or taste! 

 

Happy hunting, 

Nancy

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EarthQuake

@WhiskeyBlender Nancy, as always you're a fountain of knowledge, thanks for starting this thread! Here's a question for you posed two ways:

 

1. Pellehaut 1982 (36 year) vs 1986(30 year), price is close enough to not be a factor, which would you pick?

 

2. Do you feel like there is an ideal age for armagnac, or is this something that varies heavily depending on the house/style/vintage/etc? In the two cases (Dartigalongue 1976(41) vs 1985(30) and Darroze 1980(36) and 1985(30))  where I've had something 30 years and another closer to 40 years from the same house I've preferred the younger bottle. So my take is that past 30 years it's not really a safe bet that you're getting a better Armagnac by buying something older. Of course, my sample size here is really small so I don't know how reasonable this theory is is. Anyway, I'm leaning towards the 1986 for that reason.

 

With the Darroze especially (possibly the two Dartigalongue as well) the Armangnacs were from different producers, so the difference could be more to do with that than anything to do with the age difference. In general I've found with VS to XO to 15, 20, 30 years, more age tends to = better, but again this is all rather anecdotal. So usually my tendency is to pick the older bottle if price isn't much different.

Edited by EarthQuake

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WhiskeyBlender
6 hours ago, EarthQuake said:

@WhiskeyBlender Nancy, as always you're a fountain of knowledge, thanks for starting this thread! Here's a question for you posed two ways:

 

1. Pellehaut 1982 (36 year) vs 1986(30 year), price is close enough to not be a factor, which would you pick?

 

2. Do you feel like there is an ideal age for armagnac, or is this something that varies heavily depending on the house/style/vintage/etc? In the two cases (Dartigalongue 1976(41) vs 1985(30) and Darroze 1980(36) and 1985(30))  where I've had something 30 years and another closer to 40 years from the same house I've preferred the younger bottle. So my take is that past 30 years it's not really a safe bet that you're getting a better Armagnac by buying something older. Of course, my sample size here is really small so I don't know how reasonable this theory is is. Anyway, I'm leaning towards the 1986 for that reason.

 

With the Darroze especially (possibly the two Dartigalongue as well) the Armangnacs were from different producers, so the difference could be more to do with that than anything to do with the age difference. In general I've found with VS to XO to 15, 20, 30 years, more age tends to = better, but again this is all rather anecdotal. So usually my tendency is to pick the older bottle if price isn't much different.

Hey @EarthQuake, I'll get back to you on your questions in a day or two. Funny enough, I was supposed to visit Pellehaut yesterday, but by the time we were finished at Delord, it was too late in the day. And I'll be meeting with Marc Darroze at 11 am this morning! (lol) In the interim, could you please tell me who the producers are of the Darroze bottlings? That'll help me flesh out the answer to your questions. 

 

Cheers,

Nancy

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EarthQuake
22 minutes ago, WhiskeyBlender said:

Hey @EarthQuake, I'll get back to you on your questions in a day or two. Funny enough, I was supposed to visit Pellehaut yesterday, but by the time we were finished at Delord, it was too late in the day. And I'll be meeting with Marc Darroze at 11 am this morning! (lol) In the interim, could you please tell me who the producers are of the Darroze bottlings? That'll help me flesh out the answer to your questions. 

 

Cheers,

Nancy

Hey Nancy,

 

Whenever you get a chance is great. It sounds like you're having a lot of fun there!

 

The two Darrozes were:

1. Domaine de Lamarquette 1985

2. Domaine de la Poste 1980

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WhiskeyBlender
5 minutes ago, EarthQuake said:

Hey Nancy,

 

Whenever you get a chance is great. It sounds like you're having a lot of fun there!

 

The two Darrozes were:

1. Domaine de Lamarquette 1985

2. Domaine de la Poste 1980

@EarthQuake, its always fun to visit the various producers here and come back home with some goodies! When I'm at Darroze later this morning, I'll see if Marc still has these these 2 in stock, and I'll try them out and take tasting notes. I'm familiar with Domaine de la Poste, although I haven't had that particular '80 bottling. 

 

At any rate, I'll get back to you ASAP on this stuff. I'll also post the bottles I bought on my trip. Meanwhile, gotta get ready to go! 

 

Cheers,

N.

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WhiskeyBlender
On 11/23/2018 at 5:06 PM, EarthQuake said:

@WhiskeyBlender Nancy, as always you're a fountain of knowledge, thanks for starting this thread! Here's a question for you posed two ways:

 

1. Pellehaut 1982 (36 year) vs 1986(30 year), price is close enough to not be a factor, which would you pick?

 

2. Do you feel like there is an ideal age for armagnac, or is this something that varies heavily depending on the house/style/vintage/etc? In the two cases (Dartigalongue 1976(41) vs 1985(30) and Darroze 1980(36) and 1985(30))  where I've had something 30 years and another closer to 40 years from the same house I've preferred the younger bottle. So my take is that past 30 years it's not really a safe bet that you're getting a better Armagnac by buying something older. Of course, my sample size here is really small so I don't know how reasonable this theory is is. Anyway, I'm leaning towards the 1986 for that reason.

 

With the Darroze especially (possibly the two Dartigalongue as well) the Armangnacs were from different producers, so the difference could be more to do with that than anything to do with the age difference. In general I've found with VS to XO to 15, 20, 30 years, more age tends to = better, but again this is all rather anecdotal. So usually my tendency is to pick the older bottle if price isn't much different.

Hey @EarthQuake, I finally have a chance to get back to your questions. I had an excellent time with Marc Darroze yesterday. I ended up buying a 1962, 1966, 1972, and 1999 from him. At any rate, I'll tackle the questions 1 by 1. 

 

1.) As for the Pellehaut Armagnac, there are some generalities I should discuss first. This is an Armagnac that comes from the Tenareze, which has clay and limestone soil, as I mentioned in the initial post. Thus, these Armagnacs tend to take longer than Bas Armagnacs to show well. Also, up until 1996, the only varietal that Pellehaut used was Ugni Blanc. These days, they use Folle Blanche. Thus, since the younger Armagnacs from the Tenareze are generally tighter, in this case I would probably go with the 1982, since it has had an extra 6 years of maturation and will show better. However, if you can find a bottling from Pellehaut since 1997, you might want to grab that up since it will have been made from Folle Blanche. Even though it will obviously be no more than 19 years old, it should still be a very good bottling. 

 

2.) I wouldn't say that there is an "ideal" age for Armagnac, although there are some generalities. So for example, Armagnacs from the Bas Armagnac don't necessarily need as much time to mature as those from the Tenareze. That said, I personally find that I like Bas Armagnacs that are at LEAST 12 to 15 years old. I tend to think the sweet spot for Armagnacs from the Bas Armagnac region is somewhere between 20 to 30, maybe even 35 years old. After that, you tend to lose a lot of the fruit aromas, and the oak starts showing through more. I've had a number of Armagnacs that were 40, 50, even 60 years old, and weren't necessarily as good, or perhaps I should say "balanced," as a 20 to 35 year old Armagnac. 

 

3.) You are right about the Unique Collection of vintage Armagnacs from Darroze coming from different producers, and that there will be differences between the vintages because of this. However, it isn't just a matter of different producers. The Darroze bottlings that I tend to buy will usually be because I'm fond of the particular producer, and also because I like certain grape varietals over others. So for instance, I can usually bet that a Darroze bottling from Domaine de Rieston or Domaine de Gaube of most any vintage will be a good bet because I really like Baco 22A (aka "Baco"). Baco is a hybrid varietal of Folle Blanche grafted onto the American Noah grape rootstock, and it tends to be very rich, hardy, intense, and "masculine" in its aromas, with lots of dark dried fruit, prune, dried apricot, and nuttiness. I also like Folle Blanche, which tends to be floral, fruity, and aromatic, so a Darroze of most any vintage from Domaine de Courzard-Lassalle could also be a good bet. 

 

However, I'm not a big fan of Ugni Blanc, because it is a neutral varietal that, IMHO, just isn't that interesting, so I would never ordinarily buy a Darroze bottling from Domaine de la Poste, which also happens to be a Tenareze Armagnac. I do happen to have a 1977 bottling of it, but it is probably my least favorite of all the bottlings I've collected, and thus rarely if ever gets opened. 

 

Does that help any?

(P.S., the photo below was taken at Darroze yesterday)

 

Cheers,

Nancy

IMG_5346.jpg

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jshleffar
2 hours ago, WhiskeyBlender said:

Hey @EarthQuake, I finally have a chance to get back to your questions. I had an excellent time with Marc Darroze yesterday. I ended up buying a 1962, 1966, 1972, and 1999 from him. At any rate, I'll tackle the questions 1 by 1. 

 

1.) As for the Pellehaut Armagnac, there are some generalities I should discuss first. This is an Armagnac that comes from the Tenareze, which has clay and limestone soil, as I mentioned in the initial post. Thus, these Armagnacs tend to take longer than Bas Armagnacs to show well. Also, up until 1996, the only varietal that Pellehaut used was Ugni Blanc. These days, they use Folle Blanche. Thus, since the younger Armagnacs from the Tenareze are generally tighter, in this case I would probably go with the 1982, since it has had an extra 6 years of maturation and will show better. However, if you can find a bottling from Pellehaut since 1997, you might want to grab that up since it will have been made from Folle Blanche. Even though it will obviously be no more than 19 years old, it should still be a very good bottling. 

 

2.) I wouldn't say that there is an "ideal" age for Armagnac, although there are some generalities. So for example, Armagnacs from the Bas Armagnac don't necessarily need as much time to mature as those from the Tenareze. That said, I personally find that I like Bas Armagnacs that are at LEAST 12 to 15 years old. I tend to think the sweet spot for Armagnacs from the Bas Armagnac region is somewhere between 20 to 30, maybe even 35 years old. After that, you tend to lose a lot of the fruit aromas, and the oak starts showing through more. I've had a number of Armagnacs that were 40, 50, even 60 years old, and weren't necessarily as good, or perhaps I should say "balanced," as a 20 to 35 year old Armagnac. 

 

3.) You are right about the Unique Collection of vintage Armagnacs from Darroze coming from different producers, and that there will be differences between the vintages because of this. However, it isn't just a matter of different producers. The Darroze bottlings that I tend to buy will usually be because I'm fond of the particular producer, and also because I like certain grape varietals over others. So for instance, I can usually bet that a Darroze bottling from Domaine de Rieston or Domaine de Gaube of most any vintage will be a good bet because I really like Baco 22A (aka "Baco"). Baco is a hybrid varietal of Folle Blanche grafted onto the American Noah grape rootstock, and it tends to be very rich, hardy, intense, and "masculine" in its aromas, with lots of dark dried fruit, prune, dried apricot, and nuttiness. I also like Folle Blanche, which tends to be floral, fruity, and aromatic, so a Darroze of most any vintage from Domaine de Courzard-Lassalle could also be a good bet. 

 

However, I'm not a big fan of Ugni Blanc, because it is a neutral varietal that, IMHO, just isn't that interesting, so I would never ordinarily buy a Darroze bottling from Domaine de la Poste, which also happens to be a Tenareze Armagnac. I do happen to have a 1977 bottling of it, but it is probably my least favorite of all the bottlings I've collected, and thus rarely if ever gets opened. 

 

Does that help any?

(P.S., the photo below was taken at Darroze yesterday)

 

Cheers,

Nancy

IMG_5346.jpg

This is interesting and solved an issue i had recently as I have an open 2001 Pellehaut 16 year that I couldnt figure out why I liked it so much compared to some older ones.

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EarthQuake

@WhiskeyBlender Nancy, that is extremely helpful, thank you so much. It's always great to hear about the unique qualities of the grapes, that's the part of Armagnac that I have the most difficulty understanding. I went ahead and ordered a Pellehaut 1982 and one from 2000 that uses Folle Blanche. I think it will be very interesting to compare the two both in terms of age and the different type of grapes.

 

I agree that generally for Bas Armagnacs 15-30 is a good range, and it's great to hear someone with so much experience express similar thoughts.. I've yet to have an Armagnac in this range that was anything less than very good. I find the younger (15-20) tend to be a bit rougher and more whiskey like, and tend to open up very nicely after being open for a few weeks. While the 30-ish year olds tend to be very refined but still have enough bite and balance to be supremely enjoyable.

 

I am so jealous of your tasting at Darroze, and am excited to see what you bring back overall at the end of the trip. I'm curious to know what the ages were on the Darrozes that you picked as well.

Edited by EarthQuake

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BigPapa

IMG_1089.jpg

Really enjoying this Armagnac. One pour left in the bottle. This 1982 bottling is a 33 year old bottled in 2015.

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WhiskeyBlender

@BigPapa, that's a nice pour. I haven't had that particular year of Chateau de Laubade. Sounds like its pretty good? 

 

I just got back from France yesterday, and although I'm completely jet-lagged, I couldn't wait to dip into the new stash of "friends" I brought home with me. In the past, I've managed to bring back somewhere between 10 to 14 bottles, but this time, I wanted to bring home fewer bottles and to put quality over quantity, so I only came back with eight 700 mLs and 2 smaller bottles. And although my production training is more from the Cognac tradition, I have to admit that to drink, I really prefer Armagnac over Cognac. 

 

At any rate, the bottles below, going left to right, are Camus Ile de Re Cliffside Cellar Cognac in a 5 cL bottle, Chateau Garreau 2000 Bas Armagnac (60 mL), Mery Melrose Ancestral Cognac, which is an artisanal Cognac with 60 year old components in the blend, Chateau de Ravignan 1998 Bas Armagnac, Darroze Chateau de Gaube 1966 & 1972 Bas Armagnac, Darroze Domaine de Rieston 1999 Bas Armagnac, Delord 1986 Bas Armagnac, Delord 1979 Bas Armagnac, and Chateau de Lacquy 1978 Bas Armagnac. 

 

One really cool thing about the Darroze 1972 and 1999 bottlings: Marc Darroze didn't have any more of those in 700 mL bottles in stock, so he went to his cellar and personally filled them straight from the cask! I love that certain Armagnac distillers/producers like Darroze or Chateau de Ravignan bottle only on demand, and pull the spirit right from the cask. 

 

Cheers,

Nancy

IMG_5413.JPG

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LCWoody

Nancy, you've got me wanting to try an Armagnac. Next time I'm in Houston Ill have to find one that has some age and give it a try. 

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WhiskeyBlender

@LCWoody, if you want, give me a shout before you try, or certainly before you buy. I'd be happy to let you know if it will be a good bottling, or if you'll just be wasting your money! 

 

Cheers,

N. 

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kevinbrink

Nancy or anyone else for that matter any opinions on Casterede Reserve de La Famile 20 yr at $65 or Dartalongue CS 1994 for $80. 

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EarthQuake
8 hours ago, kevinbrink said:

Nancy or anyone else for that matter any opinions on Casterede Reserve de La Famile 20 yr at $65 or Dartalongue CS 1994 for $80. 

I have not had Casterede but the Dartigalongues I've had have been great. I picked up a 1985 Dartigalongue for $120 recently and I thought that was a fair price, $80 for the 94 sounds reasonable too. I think the store I got my 85 from had the 94 (or something in that range) for $100.

 

Also @WhiskeyBlender that looks like a great haul! Please post tasting notes when you open them.

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WhiskeyBlender
On 11/30/2018 at 4:54 PM, EarthQuake said:

I have not had Casterede but the Dartigalongues I've had have been great. I picked up a 1985 Dartigalongue for $120 recently and I thought that was a fair price, $80 for the 94 sounds reasonable too. I think the store I got my 85 from had the 94 (or something in that range) for $100.

 

Also @WhiskeyBlender that looks like a great haul! Please post tasting notes when you open them.

@EarthQuake, I sure will give some tasting notes on these! I'm on the road again at the moment, but I'll get back with some tasting notes ASAP. 

 

Cheers,

Nancy

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KyleCBreese

@WhiskeyBlender Anything of interest here? Should I go back?

498C0C55-A616-488A-B2AD-2CE03EBB00A8.jpeg

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WhiskeyBlender
9 hours ago, KyleCBreese said:

@WhiskeyBlender Anything of interest here? Should I go back?

498C0C55-A616-488A-B2AD-2CE03EBB00A8.jpeg

@KyleCBreese, from the photo, it looks like the Germain-Robin Old Havana would be the best bet. If you go back for it, please let me know what you think of it.

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EarthQuake

I cracked these open tonight. They were supposed to wait a couple more weeks, but I have been informed that I have too many bottles to put under the tree.

 

I've just had a small glass of each, but I prefer the 1982 so far, which is fabulous. The 2000 is good as well but has a sour note that I don't generally agree with. The Millet VSOP/XO I tried had a similar note (but stronger). It's a sour, acidity note that tastes almost of bile? It's a note I get in some wines as well but struggle to describe.

 

@WhiskeyBlender I'm curious to you know the note I'm describing and have any input on what it may come from. Aging? the specific types of grapes? Something else entirely?

 

47686410_1092268344287558_6391036375830888448_n.jpg

Edited by EarthQuake

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WhiskeyBlender
22 hours ago, EarthQuake said:

I cracked these open tonight. They were supposed to wait a couple more weeks, but I have been informed that I have too many bottles to put under the tree.

 

I've just had a small glass of each, but I prefer the 1982 so far, which is fabulous. The 2000 is good as well but has a sour note that I don't generally agree with. The Millet VSOP/XO I tried had a similar note (but stronger). It's a sour, acidity note that tastes almost of bile? It's a note I get in some wines as well but struggle to describe.

 

@WhiskeyBlender I'm curious to you know the note I'm describing and have any input on what it may come from. Aging? the specific types of grapes? Something else entirely?

 

47686410_1092268344287558_6391036375830888448_n.jpg

Hi @EarthQuake, just saw your question. I'm not sure where the sour note is coming from in your bottle of 2000 Pellehaut, since I haven't tasted it, but I can probably speak to the sour note that you get on the bottle of Millet. 

 

First though, as a general rule for brandy distillates, if you are getting sour notes, it is most likely coming from several sources: VA (volatile acidity) in the form of acetic acid or ethyl acetate; oxidation/acetaldehyde (oxidation often goes hand in hand with VA); Brettanomyces, which will smell like wet dog, and last but not least, various sulfur compounds such as sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and mercaptans. Acetic acid will have a vinegary note, of course, and ethyl acetate is often sweet and solventy. Acetaldehyde and oxidation notes will be more of green apple, and sometimes also come off as a mustiness. Sulfur dioxide has a burnt match note. It can contaminate wine if the vineyards have been sulfured, but since this isn't allowed for Armagnac production, that is an unlikely cause. Hydrogen sulfide, which is a byproduct of yeast metabolism, has a rotten egg aroma. 

 

So with that in mind, I've tasted a type of sour/sulfur note that you found in the Millet. In fact, I just revisited a bottle of their vintage 1996, and I'm detecting some sort of cabbage, garlic, and onion (sulfur) aromas. My guess is that the sour note is coming from some sort of disulfide, which tend to form after fermentation from oxidation of sulfide or mercaptan precursors. I know that distillation at Millet is always during the last 2 weeks of November, when the mobile alambic comes to their property, so there could be a significant amount of time between the end of fermentation and distillation. I don't know this for certain, of course, but those sour/sulfury notes could possibly be coming from the wine having extended lees contact, or there were high fermentation temperatures, or possibly inadequate aeration during fermentation, or nutritional deficiencies in the wine must, to name a few causes. The weird thing is that I don't necessarily find those notes in their table wines, so that is what perplexes me. My best guess is that something like that is occurring between the end of fermentation and the beginning of distillation. 

 

Does that help any? And can you please be more specific as to how the sour note on the Millet presents itself? I.e., is it like vinegar, wet dog, bad cheese, or more sulfury? I look forward to hearing your thoughts. 

 

Cheers,

Nancy

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EarthQuake

@WhiskeyBlender great information as always, now I have a few new terms to google. :D

 

I've had a couple more pours of the 1982 and 2000. I'm noticing the sour note in both (better integrated in the 1982). I would say it's more of a vinegary note, and now that you mention the different types sour flavors it helps me to identify it and I see a similarity to the Lemorton Calvados that we were discussing a while back.

 

I don't have a bottle of Millet anymore, so I can't say for sure what that one was but if memory serves me correctly it was probably vinegary as well.

 

In other news, I finished off my bottle of Dartigalongue 1985 and I sure am sad to see that go. Very well balanced and all around rather lovely. I will have to try to find it again the next time we go to Chicago. 

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