The famous French brandy is a few centuries older than that cognac, but is a bit in the shadow of the "big brother". His home is that Gascogne, a hilly landscape in the center of Southwest France, It includes the Gers department and parts of the Landes and Lot-et-Garonne. The Gasogner learned the art of the Moors in the 12th century distillation, The first written report on the Armagnac (aqua ardens = burning water) dates from 1411. In a document from 1461 it is reported that “the burnt spirit of the wine relieves pain, the memory fresh and the people young and joy and brings comfort " . In 1909 the designation of origin "Armagnac" decreed. The BNIA (Bureau National Interprofessionel de l'Armagnac) monitors the strict regulations. If the test is passed successfully, the golden yellow seal is awarded.
The area is divided into three zones, each with distinctive features soil types assigned. Bas-Armagnac (clay and sand) is in the west, Ténarèze (lime-rich clay soil) is in the middle, and Haut-Armagnac (lime) is in the east. The best distillates with a characteristic aroma come from Bas-Armagnac (Armagnac Noir). The area has 55% production share. Strict regulations apply to these Armagnacs. The elite is distilled in the small area "Terre de Bouc" (billy goat country), these products may be called "Grand Bas-Armagnac". The "Haut-Armagnac" area (Blanche Armagnac) only produces 5% of the production. Mainly sparkling wine is produced there, a good part of it goes to Germany.
Until the appearance of the phylloxera around 1878 it was mainly the white grape variety Piquepoul Blanc or Picpoul for short. Today, around 12,000 hectares of vineyards consist of 80% 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 only the three varieties besides the Ugni Blanc Baco Blanc. Colombard and Clairette a noteworthy meaning. All of these varieties produce low-alcohol and sour-tasting wines that are suitable for one distillation are ideal. The natural spontaneous fermentation is made without the addition of yeast, sulfur or sugar. After about ten to 17 days, an acidic wine with an alcohol content of 8 to 9.5% vol. Herbs, nuts and plums (bouquets) can be added before distilling.
The big difference to cognac is the distilling method and subsequent expansion of the distillate. Until the phylloxera disaster, the fractional process (pot still) was used (as with cognac), then the continuous process prevailed. This was perfected by the distiller master Coffey as early as 1830 and in 1936 it was prescribed as the only approved firing process for Armagnac production. With this mainly used "Méthode Armagnac" or the "Alambic Armagnacais" system, raw and fine brandy are combined in a single firing process. This is what a rectification column, an apparatus for separating the evaporable component, which liquefies the evaporated components again by cooling. This is located between the still and the condenser. The Armagnac is heated twice, but only distilled once (compared to twice for cognac).
The wine is strongly preheated and meets the alcohol vapors in the still. A sophisticated system of perforated plates and tubes ensures that the Armagnac is free of harmful substances, but contains a lot of fragrances and flavors of the wine (more vinous). Armagnac contains less alcohol after burning (52 to 63% is required) than cognac (70%). Such distillates also take longer to mature. The freshly baked Armagnac has a clear water color and tastes hot. In contrast to cognac, it is not immediately filled into barrels, but usually blended first. The Armagnac matures in dark bog oak barrels (400 to 420 liters) from the region, but due to a lack of wood, material from other areas (e.g. Limousin) has to be used increasingly. During the storage period weakness (distilled water with a little alcohol) added to the drinking strength of 40% vol alcohol.
The finished product is a "blend" from different areas of origin and years, the youngest distillate decides on the quality. The quality labels are similar to that cognac (see there under account). The most label specified age says nothing about the maturation period. Most of Armagnac is in bocksbeutel Bottled similar, bulbous bottles called Basquaise (Pot Gascon), only the rare vintage Armagnacs come in the slim Charentais bottle on the market. Around nine million bottles of Armagnac are produced annually, which is around 10% of the amount of cognac. It will be too IGP wines under the labels Cotes de Gascogne and Gers, as well as the sweet liqueur wine Floc de Gascogne generated.
The best-known Armagnac producers and trading houses are among them 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, However, some of these producers also produce wines and cognacs,
Complete lists of the numerous vinification measures or cellar techniques, as well as the various types of wine, sparkling wine and distillate regulated by wine law are under the keyword winemaking contain. There is extensive wine law information under the keyword wine law,