The famous French brandy is a few centuries older than the cognac but is a bit in the shadow of the "big brother". His home is the Gascogne, a hilly landscape in the center of Southwest France, It includes the Gers department as well as parts of Landes and Lot-et-Garonne. The Gascogner learned as early as the 12th century from the Moors the art of distillation, The first written report on the Armagnac (aqua ardens = burning water) dates back to 1411. A document from 1461 records that "the burnt spirit of wine relieves pain, keeps the memory fresh and keeps people young and joyful and comfort " . In 1909 was the first time designation of origin "Armagnac" decreed. The BNIA (Bureau National Interprofessional de l'Armagnac) oversees the strict rules. If the test is passed successfully, the golden yellow seal is awarded.
The area is divided into three zones each with characteristic features with different soil types divided. To the west is Bas-Armagnac (loam and sand), the middle zone is Ténarèze (calcareous loamy soil) and to the east is Haut-Armagnac (limestone). From Bas-Armagnac (Armagnac Noir) come the best distillates with a characteristic aroma. The area has 55% production share. These Armagnacs are subject to particularly stringent regulations. The elite is made in the small area "Terre de Bouc" (goat country), these products may be called "Grand Bas Armagnac". The area "Haut-Armagnac" (Blanche Armagnac) provides only 5% of the production. Mostly sparkling wine wines are produced there, a good part of it goes to Germany.
Until the appearance of the phylloxera around the year 1878 became predominantly the white Rebsorte Piquepoul Blanc or Picpoul for a short time. Today, the approximately 12,000 hectares of vineyards to 80% from Ugni Blanc (here the name for Trebbiano Toscano ), the clearly dominant Armagnac vine. A total of eleven white varieties are approved for the Armagnac, but in addition to the Ugni Blanc have only the three varieties Baco Blanc. Colombard and Clairette a noteworthy meaning. All of these varieties provide alcoholic and acidic tasting wines that are for a distillation are almost ideal. The natural spontaneous fermentation takes place without the addition of yeasts, sulfur or sugar. After about ten to 17 days, an acidic wine with an alcohol content of 8 to 9.5% vol. Before distilling herbs, nuts and plums (Bouquetieres) may be added.
The big difference to the cognac is the firing method and subsequent distillation of the distillate. Until the phylloxera catastrophe (as with cognac) the fractional process (pot still) was used, then the continuous process prevailed. This was perfected in 1830 by the master distiller Coffey and in 1936 the only approved firing process for the Armagnac production prescribed. For this mainly used "Méthode Armagnac" or the system "Alambic Armagnacais" raw and fine spirits are combined in a single firing process. This is served by a rectification column, an apparatus for separating the vaporizable component, which liquefies the evaporated components by cooling. This is located between the fuel bladder and the condenser. Although the armagnac is heated twice, but only once (compared to twice with cognac) subjected to distillation.
The wine is heavily preheated and hits in the pot still on the alcohol fumes. An ingenious system of perforated plates and tubes makes the Armagnac free of harmful substances, but with much of the wine's aromas and flavors (more wineiness). Armagnac contains less alcohol after burning (52 to 63% are prescribed) than Cognac (70%). Such distillates also require a longer maturation time. The freshly baked Armagnac has a water-clear color and tastes sharp. Unlike cognac, it is not immediately filled in barrels, but usually blended first. The Armagnac ripens in dark bog oak barrels (400 to 420 liters) from the region, but due to lack of wood increasingly material from other areas (eg Limousin) must be used. During the storage time will be weakness (distilled water with a little alcohol) added to the drinking strength of 40% vol alcohol content.
The finished product is a "blend" of different origins and years, the latest distillate decides on the quality. The quality terms are similar to that cognac (see there under Account). The am label indicated age says nothing about the maturity. Most of Armagnac will be in bocksbeutel bottled similar bellied bottles known as Basquaise (Pot Gascon), only the rare vintage Armagnacs come onto the market in the slender Charentais bottle. Every year around nine million bottles of Armagnac are produced, which is about 10% of the cognac quantity. It will too IGP wines under the terms Côtes de Gascogne and Gers, as well as the sweet liqueur wine Floc de Gascogne generated.
Among the most well-known Armagnac producers or commercial houses count Armadis (with the brands Chabot, Duc d'Ejas, Gerland and Marquis de Puysegur), Berger (Prince de Conde), Castarède, Château du Tariquet, Château-Paulet (Baron de Casterac), Darroze Domaine d'Ognoas, Domaines Laberdolive, Gelas, Goudoulin, La Compagnie des Produits de Gascogne (de Montal), janneau, Larrose (Comtal and Château de Hontambène), Marnier Lapostolle (Lapostolle), Marquis de Montesquiou, Marquis de Sauval, Maxim's de Paris, Ryst Dupeyron and Samalens, But some of these producers also produce wines and cognacs,
Complete listings of the numerous vinification measures and cellar techniques, as well as the various wine-regulated wine, sparkling wine and distillate types are under the keyword winemaking contain. Comprehensive information on wine law is available under the keyword wine law,