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Armagnac speaks to what is Armagnac, types of Armagnac and Armagnac production and its distinctive flavour.
If it is stated to be known as Armagnac the brandy must be produced in Gascony in southwest France. It is distilled from wine usually made from a blend of grapes which include Ugni blanc, Colombard, Baco 22A and Folle Blanche using column stills. It is then aged in oak barrels.
The governing body for Armagnac production overseen by the “Bureau National Interprofessionel de l”Armagnac and it is for the most part produced and marketed by small concerns.
The whole of the grape producing vines used for Armagnac are contained within 40,000 acres.
Information Armagnac states unlike Cognac, Armagnac is distilled just once and the spirit relies on long aging in oak barrels to soften the flavour and develop the distinct taste. This also produces the colouring and when the alcohol reaches 40% by volume it is transferred to large bottles for storage.
At that point it does not age or develop further and can be marketed.
Armagnac is sold under several different classifications, mostly referring to the age of the constituent brandies. When brandies of different ages have been blended, the age on the bottle refers to the youngest component.
A three star, or "VS," Armagnac is a mix of several Armagnacs that have seen at least two years of aging in wood.
For the VSOP, the aging is at least five years.
For XO, at least six.
Hors d'âge means the youngest component in the blend is at least ten years old. Older and better Armagnacs are often sold as vintages, with the bottles containing Armagnac from a single year, the year being noted on the bottle.
As with any "eau de vie," Armagnac should be stored vertically to avoid damaging the stopper with alcohol. Once opened, a bottle should stay drinkable for years.
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