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Language: French

Description: Armagnac has only recently come into its own. Traditionally, until 1905, all Armagnac was sold onto Cognac where it was included in the local product. Now, it is considered the second great brandy of France. The vineyards providing Armagnac cover the departments of Gers and Landes (Gascony) and Lot-et-Garonne (Agenais) and are divided into Haut-Armagnac, Ténarèze and Bas-Armagnac. Armagnac sold from any of these areas must be at least one year old, while that labelled VO, VSOP or Réserve must be not less than four years old. That labelled as Hors d’Age is ten years old or more. Although both Cognac and Armagnac come from the south-west of France, their centers of production are about 150 miles apart. The Cognac-producing area is north of Bordeaux, towards the coast, while Armagnac country is south and reaches out towards the mountains. It is an area influenced by those mountains and by both Basque and Gascon history. While the countryside of Cognac is gentle, that of Armagnac is hilly and hot; Cognac has chalky soil, Armagnac sandy; the Cognac grape is usually the St Emilion, the Armagnac grape, Folle Blanche. While Cognac is double-distilled in pot stills, Armagnac is single-distilled in its own hybrid variety still. It is also produced to a lower alcohol content (and therefore has more flavour) before being aged and blended. Cognac is aged in Limousin or Tronçais oak for up to 40 years. Armagnac gains some of its flavour from the dark, sappy, tannic Monlezun oak. At its best, Cognac has sophistication and finesse. Armagnac is rich and pungent. The best quality comes from Bas-Armagnac and Ténarèze, although the biggest of the producing zones is Haut-Armagnac.

Pronounced: AHR-man-yahk
Gender: m
Ethnicity: French
Most frequent country: Widespread
Most frequent region: Armagnac or Gers in Midi-Pyrenées in Gascony

See places: French food and cuisine, Gascony, Midi-Pyrenées, Gers, Armagnac

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Database last updated: 21 June 2011 12:23