Armagnac Recommendations?

Here you can talk about the experiences with the different brands and/or types of Armagnac.
Barney Gumble
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Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby Barney Gumble » Fri Aug 16, 2013 3:43 am

Hello. I came across this forum searching for an Armagnac recommendation. I was originally looking at Cognac and got sidetracked reading about Armagnac and I am intrigued. A little background, typically I like to drink bourbon but have been enjoying single malt scotches lately. So much more going on in a single malt scotch than in a bourbon, typically. Then awhile back I had my first glass of cognac which was a Paul Giraud, I'm not sure which release but the buyer told me he got it for ~$80. He mentioned it was very hard to find in the states and he seems to be right, I can't find it. I enjoyed this cognac very much and have not been able to stop thinking about it. This prompted me to search for a similar cognac and that's when I came across Armagnac. From the description, it sounds great.

I'm probably going to make an order from K&L soon for some other things in the next week and was considering adding a bottle of Armagnac. But which one to cut my teeth on? I'm looking in the $40-60 range but if that doesn't quite get me there, say so. I'm just worried any more money would be better spent on a similarly priced bottle of scotch... but I'd pay $80 for that bottle of Paul Giraud cognac in a heartbeat.

My short list so far:
1. Tariquet 15yo $56- seems to get good reviews, 15yo and cask strength is good in the whisk(e)y world. 100% Folle Blanche and Bas-Armagnac region are supposedly big pros. http://www.klwines.com/detail.asp?sku=1063209
2. Pellehaut Reserve Tenarez $50- good reviews http://www.klwines.com/detail.asp?sku=1005493
3. Pellehaut 1996 Vintage $60- 17yo, 50%. Supposedly a good one for someone who likes bourbon. http://www.klwines.com/detail.asp?sku=1137467
4. Delord 25 $70- Awesome reviews, Bas-Armagnac, 25yrs...? http://www.klwines.com/detail.asp?sku=1055746
5. 2000 Domaine d'Ognoas Vintage $56-Bas-Armagnac, K&L saying it's the best spirits value they've ever found. i want to believe, but... http://www.klwines.com/detail.asp?sku=1094528

Advise please, and thanks in advance.

numen
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Re: Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby numen » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:44 am

Hi Barney,

Welcome aboard to the forum and the world of brandy! K&L is a great store with a really excellent and interesting supply of cognac and armagnac. I'm a little leery of some of their reviews and recommendations, which can sometimes be hyperbolic, but those all seem to be pretty good values.

I haven't had the 1996 Pellehaut, and I'm struggling to find my notes for the other items, which I was fortunate enough to sample from some good friends. I remember really liking the Tariquet 15 and Delord 25, very different bottles. Folle Blanche will give lots of white/yellow-pink fruits (peach, apricot) with a real floral and perfumy quality -- sometimes also a bit of almonds (especially in the armagnacs). I don't recall the other Pellehaut that well, either, and the Ognoas I remember being a bit spicy from the wood and ugni blanc, backed up with some of the folle blanche. The Delord is a bit more of a mix (the firm is a negociant; they buy up some stuff from local producers), and was maybe a bit more 'standard' fare in terms of profile. Of those five, with the previous caveats in mind, I might go for the Tariquet. It's not necessarily typical due to the 100% folle blanche composition; I think that Baco is the most common varietal in armagnac. It should still give a sense of what armagnac can do.

If you do find that you like armagnac and feel like going up a bit in price too, I strongly recommend the 1985 Baraillon. I've yet to meet anybody who hasn't really loved it, though it is $116ish.

Pierre
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Re: Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby Pierre » Fri Aug 16, 2013 5:13 pm

Once again I second on Delord, I can't argue it's "classic", but their 25YO is really nice and their 1975 vintage is still quite high on my scale. However I do believe they started growing vines by themselves, I saw many pictures of freshly planted and young vines on their FB profile...

Barney Gumble
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Re: Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby Barney Gumble » Fri Aug 16, 2013 7:38 pm

I too am a little leery of the K&L reviews. They are trying to sell the product, after all.

Regarding the Baraillon, I am hesitant to spend that much on a bottle of booze that I've not yet tried but down the road I may give it a shot.

Thanks for the replies. I'm still thinking, I have a few days before I need to place the order.

numen
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Re: Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby numen » Fri Aug 16, 2013 9:22 pm

Good luck; I hope that you enjoy whatever you pick! There's a lot of brandy out there, and lots of styles and blends. I'd love to hear what you think of whatever you wind up trying!

BSinTX
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Re: Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby BSinTX » Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:09 pm

Hello and welcome to the boards! I have been through several bottles of the Tariquet 15yo and have one in reserve waiting for the end of the world. It's a bit bright but very well done, especially considering the price. I have not had the others you have mentioned, but I do my best to try whatever is available to me (though I tend to shy away from the VSOP Armagnacs.) They also have a 12yo and an 8yo, though I have never tried those particular offerings.

Most of us seem to dabble a bit in the spirits rather than stick to one particular brand. I live in KY, so really good Bourbon is easy to come by and quite inexpensive. I too became aware of Armagnac while checking out Cognac many years ago. It's a bit rougher around the edges than Cognac and is probably the reason I enjoy it so much. While I don't care much for Scotch, I seem to have developed a taste for some rums lately and I never thought this would be possible.

Anyhow, there really is only one way to know whether or not you will like something and that is to try it.

Barney Gumble
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Re: Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby Barney Gumble » Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:00 pm

Well, I ended up with something different. K&L will ship wine to Arizona, but not distilled spirits so I had to find another vendor. I ordered from astorwines.com (free shipping on orders over $100 for first time buyers, that's pretty awesome). Inventory is different so I had different choices. Tariquet 15yo cask strength was out. Side note: They have Lagavulin 16 for $67.

I chose Chateau de Briat "Hors D'Age" for $66. Shortly after I'd posted this query a colleague/friend of mine (the guy who let me sample the Paul Giraud Cognac) bought Charles Neal's book on Armagnac and let me borrow it. Ole Chuck rated producers as outstanding, excellent, very good, good and average. Chateau de Briat was rated an excellent producer, Pellehaut and Tariquet were both rated very good. Since I was getting free shipping, I decided to spend an extra $20 for the Ch. Briat over the Pellehaut. Also I was originally going to get a bottle of Highland Park 12 on the order but they ran out of stock in the few days it took me to decide on an order.

I'll let you know what I think of it when I crack open the bottle, hopefully sometime next week. Thanks for the advice!

numen
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Re: Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby numen » Fri Aug 23, 2013 12:21 am

Congrats! I haven't had that one before and would be pretty keen to hear what you think of it!

Barney Gumble
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Re: Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby Barney Gumble » Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:43 am

Pulled the cork with a few friends tonight. Here's my review. I must warn you I am a newbie to tasting notes, my palate is surely undeveloped... I'm new to picking out flavors but not exactly new to sipping spirits. Here goes:

Body: Dark, amber. Honestly, I could care less what it looks like. I don't spend much time looking at my spirits.

Nose: Candied fruit and some oak, not overly sweet. Like candied raisins as opposed to ripe cherries, sweet but not too sweet. Slightly floral. I think some vanilla. Not unlike a bourbon, surprisingly, in fact quite similar. This may be a consequence of my unrefined nose at work.

Palate: Some fruit and somewhat bitter. Not overpowering, but more bitterness than I expected.

Finish: Feels every bit as strong as the 44% advertised. Lingering finish, with dull fruit notes. Again, more bitterness than I expected.

With a touch of water:

Nose: Lightens up, more floral notes and less oak. I like it.

Palate: Flavors lighten again becoming more like ripe fruit as opposed to candied fruit.

Finish: Less burn and bitterness, more floral. I believe I prefer this with a touch of water, but more testing is certainly needed.

Overall, pretty good. I'm not blown away, but this is a fine spirit. This is my first crack at armagnac, so I will come back to it before I make a final judgement. I added water a little over halfway thru the glass and it's late so I'm going to stop here. I really wish I had other armagnacs to compare this to, but this is pretty good. More similar to bourbon than I expected, especially on the nose. Like a bourbon without the corn :lol: This may be because I'm good at picking out oak. I've cut oak for firewood since I was a duffer, and I grill/smoke meat with it regularly so I have a taste for it. I can pick it out easier than any other flavor.

Everyone else at the table (also drinkers but by no means aficionados) enjoyed it. I am looking forward to further testing ;)

Thanks again for the suggestions fellas!

Pierre
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Re: Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby Pierre » Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:32 pm

Thanks for the review, and no need to apologise, I'm new to detecting flavours also, just doing what I can... It's never really objective anyway ;)
Never thought of adding water to my armagnac (actually never really felt I should), I'll give it a try next time.


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