December 9, 2006

Domaine de Lauroux Armagnac

By Andrew Barrow In Articles
Domaine de Lauroux ArmagancEver heard of white Armagnac? It’s a new concept, an attempt to capture some of the successes of white spirits (vodka mainly), but is also designed as one measure to lift the moribund Armagnac category out of the doldrums.

Armagnac is the oldest brandy in France, dating back to the 15th century, and differs from the more recognisable Cognac name in several areas. Firstly Armagnac is distilled just the once, compared to cognac’s double distillation. The stills are different too as are the grape varieties used. Armagnac producers are able to call on 10 different varieties, although only four are used (Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, Baco 22A and Colombard) against Cognac’s predominant Ugni Blanc.

The difference in style is marked. Cognac is generally perceived to be more elegant, more of a refined drink; Armagnac is more rustic, bigger and powerful. The producers in Armagnac are artisanal, with all that that implies, and it would seem, with the launch of white Armagnac prepared to experiment and innovate.

One estate – Domaine de Lauroux – has been owned by an English couple since early 2004. Planted solely with Ugni Blanc the estate lies to the North East of Nogaro in the heart of the Bas-Armagnac region. In addition to a range of wines they have supplies of magnificent Armagnacs of all ages and styles – apart from a white version. Two came my way earlier this week, a 15 year old and a 1967 vintage.

Spirit: Armagnac Domaine de Lauroux Armagnac 15 ans
The aroma here is powerful, nutty and, when compared to the 1967 has a fresher, more floral edge, fruitier. Alcohol 40%.

Spirit: ArmagnacDomaine de Lauroux Armagnac 1967
Slightly darker in hue than the 15 year old, an attractive brown-orange colour, mahogany. The aroma too is deeper, more nutty and with an edge of woodiness emerging. Smoother, with depth and warmth. The lingering flavours offered nuances of coffee, hazelnuts and caramel. Alcohol 40%.
I have found two online stores, in the UK, that have varying stocks of Lauroux Armagnacs: Planet of the Grapes [read more] currently lists the 10 year old £33, 25 year old £45 and the VSOP at £26. Bentleys of Ludlow the 1950 at £110, 25year old in a 20cl bottle £22 and the VSOP at £20.

  1. Colin Smith December 9, 2006

    Am I missing something here? I thought Armagnac got its colour from casks. The older the spirit the darker. If that is the case how do you get a WHITE Armagnac along the lines of a vodka? That would suggest NO barrel aging at all.
    A personal view – if the Armagnac producers want to increase their sales they simply need to explain things along the lines you state in your post – more rustic, more grape varieties etc. it’s what the French producers are trying to do by explaining that Chablis is actually Chardonnay. Introducing yet another variety such as a white will only confuse further.

  2. Andrew December 10, 2006

    I imagine with out any barrel ageing the spirit is going to be quite fiery, rough even. I saw an article somewhere that showed the major off traders were not hugely impressed; I expect it will go into a few style bars rather than become mainstream. Good that they are trying something new though.

  3. Amanda Garnham December 11, 2006

    La Blanche is a new AOC Armagnac that will be available in 2007. It is a totally colourless and unaged armaganc that is full of aromas and character. Due to the lower distillation in Armagnac (generally between 52°-60°) we retain all of the interesting floral and aromatic notes of the eau-de-vie. It has traditionally always been drunk here in Armagnac in the middle of a typical Gascon meal and is known as the ‘Trou Gascon’ , a palate cleanser if you like, helping to digest and making place for the rest during a copious repas. In this case, the eau-de-vie is at its natural strength (that which it comes off the still), though when it will be a reduced and very smooth version that will be available in 2007.
    It can be enjoyed with smoked salmon or caviar for example and is a wonderful base for cocktails.
    Just visit the Armagnac region and discover the alchemy for yourself at the moment of distillation throughout the region, where one can enjoy a meal at the foot of an alambic as it bubbles away filling the room with its seductive aromas.


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