Google Armagnac is back on the tasting table

Serge whiskyfun
Thousands of tastings,
all the music,
all the rambligs
and all the fun


Facebook Twitter Logo
Guaranteed ad-free
copyright 2002-2023


Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

June 4, 2023


Armagnac is back on the tasting table

And tomorrow we'll have more Islay whisky, as our little remote Feis Ile isn't totally over yet. I would add that there's a wonderful new Armagnac Festival that'll happen in Stuttgart, Germany  - where they also make Porsches, ha. It's called the German Armagnac Festival (I'm not even sure there is a French Armagnac Festival!) and it'll happen on Saturday, June 24.  I'll try to get there; it is not a long drive from Alsace – where we make Bugattis. Now, back to our drops, let's kick this off with 'un petit apéritif'…

German Armagnac Festival



Domaine Labiette Castille 'V.S.' (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2020)

Domaine Labiette Castille 'V.S.' (40%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, +/-2020) Three stars
We've only ever tried a couple of vintage Labiette Castille, ten years ago. They were good! The Domaine is located in Sorbets, in the Gers, and shares the same owners as Laubade, which can't be bad news. This is a V.S., so 3 to 5 years of age only, so at 40% vol. let's not expect a monster armagnac. As I said, un petit apéritif. Colour: gold. Nose: it's warming, with some honey and some raisins, touches of caramel, vanilla, a drop of coffee liqueur, mead, apricot liqueur, sweet PX… I would suppose it's been somewhat enhanced – legally, of course. Mouth: a little sweet, but good, a little more on roasted peanuts, plus honey and raisins once more. Good mouth feel, also a little liquorice coming out. Finish: medium, with a little caramel, otherwise stronger honey. Young rancio and a small salty touch in the aftertaste. Comments: really of sound and fair merchantable quality, as they used to say.
SGP:651 - 82 points.

Perhaps another apéro…

Château du Tariquet 8 yo (50.5%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, Folle Blanche, +/-2022)

Domaine Tariquet 8 yo (50.5%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, Folle Blanche, +/-2022) Four stars
A famous estate, their little white Côtes de Gascogne wine is/was extremely popular in Parisian bistros. You would have remembered the wine the next morning, but not obligatorily anything else. Colour: deep amber (natural colour). Nose: I would say you could almost call this 'bourbon brandy', as there's some varnish, vanilla, fruit peel, coconut balls, a little vanillin, a drop of petrol, even a feeling of rye… And pumpernickel! It's really different and should please any bourbon folks. Really. With water: some menthol, some liquorice, some cigarette tobacco. Mouth (neat): same bourbony side at first, with jellybeans, coconut and varnish, then just sweet black tea, indeed sweet breads, and rather a lot of toffee, corn syrup, nougat… With water: water makes it grapier on the palate, but no reason to complain, naturally. Finish: medium, full, firm, whisky-y. Lovely hints of aniseed and parsley in the aftertaste. Comments: rather gorgeous and oh-so-close to the world of whisky. God fun (while I'll remember everything tomorrow morning).
SGP:651 - 85 points.

Maison Aurian 2003/2023 (51.1%, Whic, Voyages Extraordinaires, Bas-Armagnac, 150 bottles)

Maison Aurian 2003/2023 (51.1%, Whic, Voyages Extraordinaires, Bas-Armagnac, 150 bottles) Four stars and a half
Lovely Jules-Verne-inspired label. We've tried several wonderful Aurians already. And of course, I've read many Jules Verne novels when I was a boy, as all French kids used to do, but they're all on Insta or TikTok these days, what did we miss? You say Ardbeg is on TikTok too?? Colour: gold. Nose: this one's subtler, more on various herbal teas, wormwood, star anise, woodruff, bitter oranges, pear peel, clay and earth… And gets then more floral yet, with some ylang-ylang, patchouli, rose petals… With water: water brings out the raisins, prunes, tobacco and earths, in short the Armagnacness. Mouth (neat): clearly on aniseed, genepy, Thai basil, with even touches of black garlic. A drop of rose liqueur, lychee syrup, muscat, gewurz.. That's all good fun. With water: this time aniseed keeps ruling this liquid. Turkish raki and, while we're at it, sweet nargileh smoke (rose again!) Finish: sameish, plus marmalade. Comments: one that makes you travel indeed. Excellent.
SGP:661 - 88 points.

Domaine d'Espérance 17 yo 'Petit Lot' (46%, LMDW, Version Française, Armagnac, 2022)

Domaine d'Espérance 17 yo 'Petit Lot' (46%, LMDW, Version Française, Armagnac, 2022) Four stars and a half
In French, 'petit lot' means 'small batch' but also, in moderate slang, 'cute girl'. No, this is strictky culture.  Domaine d'Espérance, 45ha, is located in Mauvezin d'Armagnac, in a region that's sometimes, and rather unofficially, called 'Grand-Bas-Armagnac'. Colour: deep gold. Nose: yeah! Parsley, chives, tarragon, liquorice, roasted pistachio, black raisins, sage, menthol cigarettes… Another one that's pretty singular, it is a beautiful nose. Mouth: extremely easy and good. Stunning liquoricy freshness, peaches, mint drops, light tobacco, cough lozenges, all that with a salty touch lingering… Superb! Finish: medium, with little further change, all good and fresh and lively. Perhaps ripe mangos? Comments: these 46% vol. make it extra-easy. Do they do double-magnums? By the way, Espérance means hope. It is a perfect name.

SGP:651 - 89 points.

Domaine de Charron 2000 (49.9%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, cask #116, +/-2022) Four stars
We're in the Landes this time, with a small producer that's always making great armagnacs, as we could already find out several times. No, they don't raise zebras at the Domaine. Colour: deep amber. Nose: more oak influence here, more caramel, toffee, fudge, cakes, vanilla, jams and jellies, lady's night cream, and… rhum agricole. I'd swear to St. Miles-Davis that this is close to some Neissons. Really. Mouth: how very unusual! Notes of truffles and asparagus at first, with some sour cream, retsina, very old Bourgogne wine (meaty, mushroomy), with a faint, intriguing rancidness, some pinewood, eggplant… It's probably a little deviant on the palate, but that's exactly what we enjoy in aged spirits. The worst thing that could happen to them is that 'wood technology' gone wild would make them all the same. Which is already happening in malt whisky, by the way. Finish: long, still a tad sulphury (kind of) and yet quite superb. Some pepper in the aftertaste. Comments: rather a fighting, rustickish (!) armagnac 'from behind the fags', as we say in French.

SGP:562 - 87 points.

Domaine de Charron 1988 (47.1%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, cask #20, +/-2022)

Domaine de Charron 1988 (47.1%, OB, Bas-Armagnac, cask #20, +/-2022) Four stars and a half
100% baco – the 2000 was 100% baco too. Wait, didn't those slightly weird touches on the palate come from the fact that it was baco? Baco is a crazy hybrid, close to the infamous American noah varietal… Let's see if we find that again in this older one… Colour: copper amber. Nose: varnish all over the place at first, even acetone, and I swear to St. John-Coltrane that I'm finding similarities to Neisson again. It gets then gentler, cakier, with some panettone and Stolle, and rather a lot of orange blossom and lavender honey (which does not smell like lavender). Mouth: but why do I keep thinking of Martinique? I may need vacations. Touches of sour oak, liquorice, guava jam, old sweet wine (Rivesaltes) and dry raisins. Hints of iron and copper too, rancio indeed, pousse-rapière… Do you know pousse-rapière? Finish: long, still dry, almost oxidative. Amontillado. Earthy aftertaste. Comments: Martinique, Jerez, Landes. Three regions in one spirit, how cool is that? In any case, this is characterful armagnac, as always with Charron.
SGP:462 - 88 points.

Please another 1988…

Domaine de Danis 33 yo 1988/2023 (47.6%, Grape of the Art, Ténarèze, folle blanche, cask #34, 387 bottles)

Domaine de Danis 33 yo 1988/2023 (47.6%, Grape of the Art, Ténarèze, folle blanche, cask #34, 387 bottles) Five stars
This one matured in a wet cellar. And it is a Ténarèze, baby! Colour: gold. Nose: they say Ténarèze are rural, but I find this rather well-polished, easy, fresh, floral, pretty civilised, with dandelions, maize bread, mirabelle jam, quinces, meadow flowers, white clover honey, golden sultanas… And tiny whiffs of wood smoke. A Glenmorangie of armagnac, if you will. Mouth: great, lively, herbal and fruity, with herbs jellies (hay), apples, tiny pink bananas, more mirabelles, a drop of sorb spirit, quince jelly, citrons… Woodruff syrup in the background, and even touches of bear garlic. No, nothing to do with garlic. Finish: medium, fresh, with some blood oranges, more lighter honeys, a drop of elderberry liqueur (do we really need to mention that brand name once more?)… And just more quinces and mirabelles in the aftertaste. Comments: quaffability factor: huge! Which may make it a little dangerous. They should add a warning to the labels, don't you think? What's sure is that this is one of the gentlest pure Folle Blanches I've tried, but granted, I haven't tried zillions.

SGP:651 - 90 points.

Château de Hontambère 36 yo 1985/2022 (56.5%, Grape of the Art, Ténarèze, ugni blanc, cask #6, 350 bottles)

Château de Hontambère 36 yo 1985/2022 (56.5%, Grape of the Art, Ténarèze, ugni blanc, cask #6, 350 bottles) Four stars and a half
Aren't these labels absolutely stunning, with their mid-1960s Italian-pop-art feel? Let's add proper art to our bottles and drop any cheapo two-penny pseudo-Victorian designs! So many new bottles are hurting our eyes, are they not. But back to this interesting pure ugni-blanc from Ténarèze… Colour: full gold. Nose: noses sweeter, honeyed, a little liqueury perhaps, with 'a box of sultanas', small figs, dates, kougelhopf… It's not exactly earthshattering this far, but at 56.5%vol. after 36 years, that may be normal… With water: small herbs popping out, dill, basil, a little tar too, a lovely small rubber, honeysuckle, old chardonnay… What a breath-taking nose once you've added a little H2O! Best use of water, I say (apologies to the greens). Mouth (neat): woooh! A cognacqy avalanche of dried fruits and herbs, going tropical, ridden with honeys, mint, peaches and mangos. Some oak shavings too, caramel, varnish, but that may be the high strength, let's see. With water: back to mint, liquorice, earth, fruity varnishes, fermenting figs, eucalyptus… Finish:  very long, a tad rough now, a little oaky, but how many whiskies are already dead at 36? To be honest, this oakier finish makes it lose one point. Dura Lex, sed Lex (oh come on, S.!) Pepper, cinchona, raw roots… Comments: splendid, totally splendid. All you have to do is to have a next shot before the finish. Nah, drop that.

SGP:462 - 89 points.

Down to vintage 1975. That's when LedZep did Achilles Last Stand, no? Best LedZep ever, if you ask me. They just released the reference tape on YouTube by the way, boy oh boy…

Château Garreau 46 yo 1975/2022 (49.2%, Asta Maurice, Bas-Armagnac, cask #AMF007, 280 bottles)

Château Garreau 46 yo 1975/2022 (49.2%, Asta Maurice, Bas-Armagnac, cask #AMF007, 280 bottles) Four stars and a half
I think the price will make any Scottish marketeers laugh. They should not, they won't laugh much longer… (that was excessively grim, S.!) Colour: deep gold. Nose: classic beehive-y start, full of honey, then raisins, then flowers (peonies and gorse, for example) and pollen. Then chicory coffee, (just a wee cup) and a curious combination involving slightly heady flowers (roses) and meats, marrow, bouillons, lentils and ham… The thing is, this is brilliant, very complex, and superbly converging. What I mean is that we're getting close to the best old Speysides, especially Macallan and compadres. Remember, old spirits converge… (only the prices do not). Mouth: many flaws (too much oak, too much piney stuff, too much earthiness, too many spices, too much soapiness) but very bizarrely, the combination works, as if by magic. Message to self, just don't over-analyse these old ones. Finish: medium, awesomely sour, almost acetic and briney. Mead in the aftertaste. Comments: nose was easily 91, palate was more like 87.
SGP:371 - 89 points.

Danis has it, but there's a last one, from the same house, by another bottler that's close to our dear little Alsace… Remember, Alsatians are not Frenchmen, they are either Swiss people who never made it to Belgium, or the other way around.

Château Garreau 50 yo 1973/2023 (46.8%, C. Dully Selection for Sabir Sheikh's 50th Birthday, Bas-Armagnac)

Château Garreau 50 yo 1973/2023 (46.8%, C. Dully Selection for Sabir Sheikh's 50th Birthday, Bas-Armagnac) Four stars and a half
So a Swiss bottling… I'm afraid we do not know the excellent Mr. Sabir Sheikh, but our thoughts are with him on this special occasion. For he who loves old Armagnac can only be a good man. Colour: bright amber. Nose: classic, gentle, honeyed, nutty, floral, very cakey, with dried fruits aplenty and touches of beeswax. This is not some heavy armagnac for sure, but whiffs of resins and old ointments are adding mystery to this charming oldster. Mouth: it's starting to talk, getting more resinous at first, then with some bananas flambéed, some light fudge, maple syrup, green propolis (the black one is usually harder), figs starting to ferment… Finish: medium, herbal, with a little cardboard showing up, some teaishness, a little  piney tar… Comments: to be honest, this one is almost miraculous. So many spirits are almost dead when they reach this ripe old age, only some fab cognacs can make it in our book, as well as some malts by Gordon & MacPhail, for unknown reasons. Maybe Elgin's micro-climate? In any case, it's great news that this one hasn't gone down with all hands. Congratulations to anyone involved.

SGP:561 - 88 points.

See you in Stuttgart! (hope I'll make it)…

More tasting notesCheck the index of all armagnacs we've tasted so far







Whiskyfun's Home