Armagnac is the oldest eau-de-vie (literally “water of life”) of France. Famous in the Middle Ages for its therapeutic virtues, it became a widely used spirit during the fifteenth century and reached its apogee in the nineteenth century.
The area of production is part of the vineyards of the Southwest, located south of the Bordeaux region and comprises the departments of Gers, Landes and Lot-et-Garonne.
Besides Armagnac AOC there are four other more specific AOCs of the area: Bas-Armagnac,
Armagnac-Ténarèze (or Ténarèze), Haut-Armagnac and La Blanche-Armagnac (or White-Armagnac).
The use of ten grape varieties, all white, is allowed by the Appellation; the predominant four grapes are the Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Folle Blanche and Baco Blanc.
The Bas-Armagnac is the largest of the three areas with 60% of all the plantings. Its quartz soil covered with fine sand and mixed with ferruginous elements is the reason for more delicate and fruity brandy vs. the chalk and clay soil of the Ténarèze, which gives a more full-bodied brandy.
Armagnac is distilled only once at a lower temperature (110ºC), different from Cognac, which is double-distilled at a higher temperature; this and the sandy soil determine the more fragrant and grapy style of the Armagnac vs. the more neutral Cognac, especially at younger age.
Château de Maniban is considered one of the best producers of Armagnac in the area. The castle was built by the Marquis de Maniban around 1544. The cellars were built during the 18th century. Château de Maniban owns 20ha of vines in region of Bas-Armagnac. Bas-Armagnac is the most highly rated terroir of the Armagnac region and produces the best crus.
Currently at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits we offer two Armagnac brandies from Château de Maniban:
Château de Maniban, Bas Armagnac, VS – $32.99
Château de Maniban, bas Armagnac, Napoléon – $47.99
Atanas Nechkov, Wine Supervisor Central Florida
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