Armagnac Recommendations?

Here you can talk about the experiences with the different brands and/or types of Armagnac.
Dolph Lundgren
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Re: Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby Dolph Lundgren » Thu Sep 19, 2013 1:42 pm

So, I'm new to the forum. I'm primarily a bourbon (and scotch) guy and I troll SB.com quite a bit. Given the crazy market for good bourbon these days, I decided to branch out and buy into some of the Armagnac "hype" that is getting thrown out there. After trying a bunch of K&L bottles, I can easily say that the reviews regarding Armagnac are not merely "hype."

I am loving Armagnac and finding that it not only makes a good substitute for bourbon, but that it is an amazing spirit that stands on its own two feet. Over the last few weeks, my the fill levels on my open Armagnac bottles have been lowering more quickly than the fill levels on my bourbon.

Here are my thoughts on what I've opened:

1996 Chateau de Pellehaut: In the glass it is a golden hay color and has beautiful legs that coat the glass and slowly recede to the bottom. The nose is berry, grape and rye spice. The nose has changed a little bit since opening; at one point, it was similar to a FR OESQ I had open. On the palate its starts off spicy and moves to a more organic flavor, similar to what I imagine the vines and soil would taste like (in a good way). It finishes long and becomes sweeter, but not to sweet - berries and candy apple. Absolutely complex and awesome.

1989 Domaine de Lassaubatju: a little darker than the Pellehaut, it cakes the glass (but not as much as the Pellehaut). The nose on this is more complex than the Pellehaut and, along with the grape, is very bourbon like: caramel, vanilla, etc. The palate is grape, vanilla, butter scotch and a tannic (in a good way). I feel like the oak influence makes this much more bourbony (my bourbon friends really liked this one). The finish is medium in length and more of the same. I really enjoyed this one. I bought the last two from K&L and one broke in transit - Bummed that once this bottle is gone, its gone.

1985 Baraillon: earthy, grapey awesomeness. All that really needs to be said on this one.

I've got a bunch more waiting to be opened. I hate to compare Armagnac to bourbon, but at this point its my frame of reference, and truth be told, good Armagnac is similar to good bourbon.

I'm looking to branch out and find some Cask Strength Chateau Laubade and Domaine Boingneres.

Pierre
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Re: Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby Pierre » Thu Sep 19, 2013 4:24 pm

If you live in the USA and manage to find cask strength Chateau de Laubade, let it be known to numen here on the forum and you'll make him a happy man :mrgreen: Hard to find even in France actually...
Glad that you enjoyed what is a damn fine spirit in my opinion ! There might be a connexion between bourbon and french brandies, I must say that as an amateur of cognac and armagnac, I appreciate bourbon, more than scotch whisky... Anyway this Pellehaut 1996 is 100% folle blanche, isn't it ? I'm a bit jealous about it, we don't have FB vintages from them in France. Their FB armagnac is aged in casks that served for making white wine, I believe that's what makes it this good (for me...).

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Re: Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby Dolph Lundgren » Thu Sep 19, 2013 5:10 pm

Yeah - the 96 is 100% Folle Blanche. Too bad you guys don't get it in France - its amazing stuff.

I've found one place online that has the Cask Strength Chateau Laubade vintages (in France):

http://www.stephconti.fr/

Surprisingly, they come in at 42%. That cannot be true cask strength, can it?

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Re: Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby Pierre » Thu Sep 19, 2013 9:28 pm

Well, it actually can, armagnac is distilled at a lower proof than cognac or bourbon, typically 50-55%, so that cask strength products are typically around 44-48% but older stuff can even go as low as 40-41%, at which point they usually put them in demi-john. In a dry cellar the evaporation is typically higher so that an armagnac from the 70's could reach that proof without too much trouble I'm sure.

numen
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Re: Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby numen » Sat Sep 21, 2013 11:14 am

Chateau de Laubade and Domainde de Boingneres are both very good. Boingneres tends to be more expensive for what you get (in the US -- there are a few places internationally that sell it for better prices) and in line with Laberdolive, at the premium level for pricing. Laubade is a little expensive for Armagnac, but still well-valued, I think, for an aged spirit.

I, too, really loved the Baraillon. I thought that the Pellehaut and Lassaubatju were also good/very good. One of the things that I've enjoyed a lot about Armagnac is seeing how different grape varietals fare at different ages from different locales/estates. The different varietals tend to retain their qualities and characteristics, but they also tend to change a bit with terroir and age, in addition to the distillation methods and wood/barrel selection.

Charles Neal, whose name comes up a bit on the K&L website, is the primary person importing Boingneres (I think) to the US. Right now, there aren't too many options. There's some mid-80s stuff (I think, mainly, the Folle Blanche) floating on the US market, usually going for over $200/bottle. There's also the Special Reserve, which goes for around $100. I think that it's all very well made, and, to my tastes, from the best region/area of Bas Armagnac - Le Freche. Not to say that other areas aren't good, but I've just been universally impressed with stuff from there (Baraillon, for example, is also from/partly in Le Freche.) If you're looking for another great estate that bottles its own stuff, I've also been very impressed with the few samples of Ravignan that I've had.

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Re: Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby Dolph Lundgren » Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:02 am

I've been sharing the Barailiion and the Lassaubatju with friends and they tend to lean towards the latter. I'm finding that the sweet spot for Armagnac is around the 15-30 range, where it is a bit higher proof (possibly) and not overly tannic. I've got another shipment coming in next week and I'll update on the notes/reviews.

Is the Boingnères really worth the markup? K&L is getting great higher proof stuff at half the cost, and I wonder if its worth spending the extra dough - I mean, I'm going to buy a bottle, but how do you guys feel about it. The 84/85 is 200+, and while I like the proofing, its a hefty investment for 1 bottle.

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Re: Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby numen » Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:02 pm

It's hard to answer a 'worth' question. Which 1984 or 1985? Are these the Folle Blanche or the Cepages Nobles. They're very different animals. At any rate, I think that the vintage Boingneres that I've had have been excellent.

Here are my notes for the '85 Cepages Nobles:
viewtopic.php?f=20&t=457

And my notes for the '84 Folle Blanche:
viewtopic.php?f=20&t=432

I've tasted a few other Boingneres, and they were all very good or excellent. I didn't do formal notes for the '85 Folle Blanche (the opened bottle is gone), but it, too, was excellent. While I really liked the '85 CN, others did not. Paul Pacult, for instance, gave it one star - then again, his sample had at least 5-7 years fewer in the barrel than my bottle did. The Cepages Nobles is different because it has Colombard in it, so you get a bit of a difference between noticeably higher pitch notes from the oak (vanilla) and Folle Blanche (peaches, etc), and the noticeable lower pitch notes (cocoa, etc). If you're looking at the Folle Blanches, the quality and craftsmanship is excellent. I think that it's better than the Folle Blanche that's generally available at stores like K&L. Having said that, you'd have to answer the same question about it that you would for a bourbon/rye. If you think that 4RSB is great, is it worth extra cash to get the 4RSB Limited Edition in a given year? Of course, we're talking about a bigger price differential with the armagnac.

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Re: Armagnac Recommendations?

Postby Dolph Lundgren » Tue Oct 22, 2013 11:45 am

numen wrote:It's hard to answer a 'worth' question. Which 1984 or 1985? Are these the Folle Blanche or the Cepages Nobles. They're very different animals. At any rate, I think that the vintage Boingneres that I've had have been excellent.

Here are my notes for the '85 Cepages Nobles:
viewtopic.php?f=20&t=457

And my notes for the '84 Folle Blanche:
viewtopic.php?f=20&t=432

I've tasted a few other Boingneres, and they were all very good or excellent. I didn't do formal notes for the '85 Folle Blanche (the opened bottle is gone), but it, too, was excellent. While I really liked the '85 CN, others did not. Paul Pacult, for instance, gave it one star - then again, his sample had at least 5-7 years fewer in the barrel than my bottle did. The Cepages Nobles is different because it has Colombard in it, so you get a bit of a difference between noticeably higher pitch notes from the oak (vanilla) and Folle Blanche (peaches, etc), and the noticeable lower pitch notes (cocoa, etc). If you're looking at the Folle Blanches, the quality and craftsmanship is excellent. I think that it's better than the Folle Blanche that's generally available at stores like K&L. Having said that, you'd have to answer the same question about it that you would for a bourbon/rye. If you think that 4RSB is great, is it worth extra cash to get the 4RSB Limited Edition in a given year? Of course, we're talking about a bigger price differential with the armagnac.


Good point on the Four Roses. I guess I tend to get greedy with good spirits and I may be jumping the gun on Armagnac here - I probably need to slow down. It took me years to refine my palate for bourbon and scotch and learn to differentiate between FRSB and FRSB LE.

I do tend to like the Folle Blanche expressions I've had. At some point, I'll pull the trigger on 84 Folle Blanche.

I opened the 2000 Domaine d'Ognoas about two weeks ago. Its not bad, but not the greatest either. There is a mineral quality that I'm not a big fan of. Overall, I'd give it a B / B-.


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