Brandy formerly indicating age, are used by shippers

Brandy is the alcoholic
beverage distilled from wine or a fermented fruit mash.
The term used alone generally refers to the grape product; brandies made from
the wines or fermented mashes of other fruits are commonly identified by the
specific fruit name. With the exception of certain fruit types, known as white
types, brandies are usually aged. Aging in
wooden containers deepens colour to amber, the use of paraffin-lined casks or
earthenware maintains the original clear colour, and the addition of a caramel
solution darkens colour. Beverage brandy contains about 50 percent alcohol by
volume; brandy used to fortify sherry, Madeira, and the other
dessert wines contains about 80–95 percent alcohol by volume. Like other distilled liquor,
brandy does not improve after bottling. Star or letter designations,
formerly indicating age, are used by shippers to express product quality.

The name comes from the Dutch brandewijn (“burnt
wine”), referring to the application of heat in distillation.
Commercial distillation of brandy from wine originated in the 16th century.
According to one story, a Dutch shipmaster began the practice by concentrating
wine for shipment, intending to add water upon reaching home port, but the
concentrated beverage immediately found acceptance.

Most wine-producing countries also make brandy. Outstanding French
brandies include cognac,
from the Charente and Charente-Maritime départements of
France, usually considered the finest of all brandies, and Armagnac, from
the Gers region. The sherry-producing centres of Spain and the port-producing
centres of Portugal are also known for brandy. Greek brandy
includes Metaxa, sweetened and usually darkened with caramel, and ouzo, colourless and flavoured
with anise or licorice. American brandy, produced mainly in California, tends
to be neutral and uniform in character. Pisco,
mainly produced in Peru, is distilled from muscat wines. Brandies distilled
from grape pomace, or marc, the material remaining in the winepress after grape
pressing, include the French eau-de-vie de marc, for
which Burgundy is well known, and grappa, an unaged, sharp-tasting brandy
produced in both Italy and California.

Major wine-producing regions of France

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 1: French Wine Region

Brandies are usually
served alone or with soda as after-dinner drinks. They are used to flavour
mixed drinks and various dessert dishes and as fuel to produce the flame in
such flamed dishes as crepes Suzette and cherries jubilee. Brandy is also used
as a base spirit in the production of another type of distilled liquor,
the liqueur.

History of Armagnac

From the Gascony region in southwest France?Armagnac, the cousin of Cognac, is a brandy that hails. (Armagnac,
2015)
For example, Cognac is a produced from a base of white wine, but unlike Cognac.
With a round and rich flavor, it goes through only a single slow distillation
which produces a brandy. After the distillation, from the local oak forest, it
undergoes an extended period of aging in barrels made primarily. To shed its
harshness of youth, the longer aging allows the brandy.

                                                                                               
Although Armagnac sales in the US ,it have been
increase the sale rate in recent years the artisanal nature of this spirits, it
means that production is small and it remains a secret to be discovered by the
most wine and spirits lovers. The Wine Lovers of NYC wants to change something!
Join us on Sunday, November 13 as May Matta-Aliah, the New York Armagnac
Ambassador and president of In the Grape. An organization dedicated to making
wine and spirits education accessible to everyone, it will be present 6
wonderful Armagnacs in addition to a welcome Armagnac Punch. This promises to
be very fun and educational adventure into one of the greatest brandies of
France and that still remains a well-kept secret to most, but not for long. (Introduction
to Armagnac, 2015)

Besides that, by France’s best-kept secret, Armagnac let’s get
seduced. Steeped in a history, that goes back 700 years and flavored by the
characters that can only be found in the Gascony. (An
Introduction, 2014) A sip of Armagnac recalls secret
cellars, musketeers, French berets and a character as unique as the people that
put their heart and soul into producing it. Join us on this guided journey
through the picturesque vineyards and it also got dramatic cellars of Gascony.
We can enjoy an unprecedented tasting of the Armagnacs. The tasting will
highlight the range of styles produced from VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) old
to XO (Extra Old). And It also from the Hors d’Age to the Vintages. Proprietary
distillation techniques and the importance of the local oak barrels will all be
discussed it local in Grape Varieties. Of this fine spirit and an appreciation
for why the French are more than happy to keep this seductive spirit a secret
all to them, you will come away with a deeper understanding.

As the finest producer of brandy in the world, Armagnac is only
one of the world are the true rival to Cognac for recognition. It is one of only three
officially demarcated brandy regions in Europe, and it along with Cognac and Jerez in Spain.

Its quantity of the production is significantly lower than that of the
Cognac region. For every six bottles of Armagnac, it will sold around the world there are one
hundred bottles of cognac sold.

For around 200 years longer than Cognac, Armagnac has been making brandy (French
Entree, 2003).

Armagnac is a French grape brandy and it is the most similar to cognac, but it ultimately very different in production and flavor
profile. 

In
this post, I’ll cover the basics of the armagnac. In next post, I’ll discuss the main differences between the cognac
and the armagnac. 

In the presentation, Armagnac is the most established schnaps in France,
with references going back the extent that 1411 amid it was utilized for the
most part for helpful reasons. These days, the liquor being the drink of
decision for us to quiet the nerves following stun. There was 200 years
previously the main specify of Cognac and has dependably thrown a shadow over
the schnaps it jumps at the chance to see as a littler, non-debilitating, and
more youthful sibling. These days anyway it is Armagnac which is the rising
star and enormous sibling Cognac has a considerable measure to keep an eye out
for!

Made in
the Pays de Gascogne in the far south west of France, Armagnac has three
particular delivering locales (The OXFORD WINE Company, 1840):

·        
Bas
armagnac: delivers the most lofty Armagnacs with a specific bundle of plum.

·        
Ténarèze:
delivers some exceptionally perfumed spirits which are now and again preferably
coarser than those from alternate regions. It is in charge of a large portion
of the generation of Armagnac.

·        
Haut
armagnac: this epithet has the biggest domain however the littlest vineyard
zone with the littlest creation of the three zones.

Armagnac
is still mostly created by little scale rustic cultivators with a few makers
sharing versatile stills that are driven around the wide open at generation
time. Local people used to joke that when crows went over the district they
flew topsy turvy so they couldn’t perceive how poor the region was! Regardless
of whether this is the situation these days is dubious yet in examination with Cognac
where worldwide makers are ordinary, this dependability to the foundations of
the customs of the Armagnac business is one of many components that safe a
place in the hearts of shoppers for this authentic soul.

 

 

Characteristics

Armagnac
is to be gradually tasted and delighted in and it is legitimately tasted much
like wine. Here are the things to search for when tasting Armagnac:

·        
Color – The color of an Armagnac is vigorously dependant upon
to what extent it was matured. The more drawn out the soul has spent in wood
barrels, the wealthier the shading. More youthful Armagnac that hasn’t invested
much energy in wood barrels is brilliant and nectar shaded while more seasoned
Armagnacs are profound dark colored and mahogany in shading.

 

·        
Aroma – When a glass of Armagnac is first put to the nose, the
liquor is the primary thing you’ll smell. After the main starting aroma, hold
up a couple of minutes and convey it to the nose once more. Since your nose is
utilized to the liquor fragrance, you will have the capacity to identify the
gentler smells of the Armagnac – like vanilla, wood, cooked nuts and a trace of
dried dim organic product.

 

·        
Taste – Taking only a little taste, let the Armagnac lay on
your tongue and after that twirl it tenderly around your mouth to move beyond
the liquor consume and appreciate all the inconspicuous kind of the soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Production Methods

Distillation

The distillation takes
place during winter with a limit date of 31st March of the year following the harvest;
for several years this date has been brought forward by an annual decree. 
The wine is often distilled on the estate, sometimes using a travelling
distiller who goes from cellar to cellar distilling the winemakers’ wine. 
It is also produced in distilleries by professional distillers or cooperatives.

Most of Armagnac (about
95%) is obtained using a specific alambic for this eau-de-vie: a continuous
Armagnac alambic.  It is a pure copper apparatus that was endorsed in 1818
(by a stove maker in Auch, Sieur Tuillière, under the reign of King Louis
XVIII), and adapted, modified, improved by the region’s distillers.  It
truly gives the personality to Armagnac. (5 differences between cognac and armagnac,
2016)

The wine permanently
feeds the alambic from the bottom of the cooler.  It is thanks to this
that the alcohol vapours contained in the serpentine cool down.  It is
driven towards the distillation column where it goes down from plate to plate
until it reaches the boiler.  With the strong heat provided by the
furnace, the vapours from the wine pass back up the column and bubble in the
wine at the level of each plate.  They become enriched with the alcohol
and the aromatic substances in the wine before being condensed then cooled in
the serpentine.

On leaving the alambic,
the eau-de-vie is transparent and its alcohol degree can vary between 52% and
72% (though it is traditionally around 52% to 60%). At this moment, the
Armagnac is still full of ardour, though it already has great aromatic
richness: very fruity (plum, grape) and often floral (vine flowers or lime
flower).  The ageing in wood will give it its complexity and increasing
softness.                                                                            

Alambic Armagnacais

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 2: Armagnac Still

1.      The
ageing

Once it has been distilled, Armagnac is put to age in
« pièces »: 400 litre
oak barrels mostly from the forests of Gascony or Limousin.

These pièces are
stored in the cellars where the temperature and the humidity are important for
the quality of the ageing.  Thereafter, the cellar master monitors the
evolution of his eaux-de-vie:

·        
The extraction of the tannin compounds and aromas from the
barrel

·        
The evaporation of a part of the eau-de-vie and the
reduction of the alcohol degree (about ½ degree per year), known as the
‘angel’s share’.

·        
The evolution of the aromas coming from the wood and the
wine through a slow oxidation of the Armagnac in contact with the air through
the barrel. 

 

The eaux-de-vie stay in new barrels just until the
dissolution level of substances in the wood is optimal.  They are then
transferred to older barrels in order to avoid an excessive extraction of wood
and continue their slow evolution: the substances in the wood become more
refined, aromas of vanilla and prunes develop, the « rancio » character appears
and the alcohol degree diminishes gradually through the evaporation of the
alcohol (the angel’s share).   The eau-de-vie takes on a lovely amber
colour that then turns to mahogany.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lovely amber colour that then turns
to mahogany

Figure 3: Colour of armagnac

After a certain number of years and constant evaluation by
the cellar master, that can be as long as 50 years, the eaux-de-vie are put
into glass so that there is no more wood extraction and only once it is
considered to be at its peak: it is the famous demi-johns (known as ‘bonbonnes’ in Armagnac),
preciously conserved in the ‘paradis’.

 

2.      Blends

Once the cellar master considers that the ageing is
sufficient, he will start ‘les coupes’,
in other words, making harmonious blends of several eaux-de-vie of different
origins and ages.

 

The level of alcohol for consumption (40% vol. minimum) can
be achieved by gradually adding ‘petites eaux’ a blend of Armagnac and
distilled water that is aged independently and used exclusively for reducing
blends.

 

3.      Vintages

The vintage is a specificity in Armagnac that corresponds
exclusively to the year of harvest.  Reducing vintages is often not
necessary particularly if the cellar is humid so they are often available at
their natural alcohol strength of ageing that is generally between 40% and 48%
vol. Once in bottles, Armagnac no longer ages though it is important to keep
the bottle upright so that the alcohol can’t attack the cork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Serving Technique

·        
Not just for after dinner (Five Tips For Drinking Armagnac, 2016)

Brandies
and Armagnacs do not just have to be after dinner sips. Instead, try a Blanche
Armagnac for a fresh and flavorful start to a meal. It can also be paired with
smoked seafood, caviar, and carpaccio. Or, it can be served between heavy
courses as a palate cleanser. Other, aged in oak, Armagnacs are perfectly
paired with game or grilled meats.

·        
Warmer is sometimes better

An
Armagnac that has been aged for many years and has deep, rich flavors does well
when it is warmer. Make sure the bottle is at room temperature before serving.
Once it has been poured into your glass, cup the glass with the palm of your
hand to gently warm the spirit. This will allow that aromas to show themselves
and enhance the drinking experience. However, other bottles are more enjoyable
when they are slightly chilled. Do some research into your particular Armagnac
before serving. No matter the temperature, Armagnac should be served in a
thin-glassed snifter or wine glass to bring the aromas to your nose.

·        
Treat it as a sauce

The
next time you are enjoying a simple fruit dessert or ice cream, try pouring
some Armagnac over top. Choose a spirit with a thicker body and flavor notes
that will match the dessert. 

·        
Pairing with cigars

There
is a whole science behind pairing cigars and Armagnac. However, it all comes
down to your preference. Armin recommends contrasting the flavors of the cigar
and spirit rather than trying to match them. For example, sip a fruity Armagnac
with a spicier cigar for beautiful balance.

 

Conclusion

Armagnac, the
cousin of Cognac, is a brandy that hails from the Gascony region in southwest
France. Like Cognac it is produced from a base of white wine, but unlike
Cognac, it goes through only a single slow distillation which produces a brandy
with a round and rich flavor. After distillation, it undergoes an extended
period of aging in barrels made primarily from the local oak forest. The longer
aging allows the brandy to shed its harshness of youth and develop into a
wonderfully supple and seductive spirit. A unique characteristic of Armagnac in
the spirits world is the tradition by distillers in the region to set aside
some Armagnac every year and allow it to age as a single vintage brandy. These
rarities are wonderful birthday and anniversary treats and make for special
gift items.