Introduction to Armagnac

Armagnac, the oldest French eau-de-vie is celebrating 7 centuries of history in 2010. To celebrate, 3 UK Armagnac Ambassadors have been elected to promote the world's finest grape spirit. Read all about it at

At the beginning of the 14th century, Maitre Vital Dufour, prior of Eauze in Gascony, considered that this eau-de-vie had '40 virtues or uses' to 'conserve one's health and stay on top form'.

Today, Armagnac is an Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, made essentially from 4 grape varieties : Ugni-Blanc, Folle blanche, Baco and Colombard. It covers 3 areas : Bas-Armagnac, Haut-Armagnac and Armagnac-Ténarèze. The Armagnac eaux-de-vie belong to a 'terroir', that of Gascony in the South West of France, and their notoriety relies on the traditional production methods carefully passed down through generations that makes each one of them original; an 'authors' eau-de-vie.

As an aperitif, pure or with ice, in cocktails, as an accompaniment to certain dishes, or as a digestive, Armagnac will seduce any palate. It is also wonderful for cooking and in dressings, sauces, name it.

Armagnac, unlike cognac, is made with a wine philosophy: vintages, varietals and retention of fruit. A wonderful drink, aged in local Monlezun or Troncais oak, and usually single distilled in a continious still to retain more fruit at a lower distilled alcoholic strength.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Best Chantilly Cream - Ever!

Whip 300ml of whipping cream until just beginning to stiffen.
Add 5ml (1tsp) caster sugar.
Add 25ml VSOP Armagnac.
Whip until you get a nice thick consistency and you are done.

Serve a dollop (heaped tablespoon) with a slice of your favourite cake.  This goes superbly with my ginger cake, but you'll have to wait for the recipe for that!


Monday, 19 April 2010

A fantastic sorbet: Armagnac, Chinese green tea and lime!

So, make a standard mug of good quality Chinese green tea.  Pour into a sauepan.  Add about 75g caster sugar, half a lime and the zest.  Boil for a minute.  Leave to cool.  Whisk an egg white until it goes "mountainous".  Add the egg white to the cool liquid and 40cl young fresh Armagnac (5-8 year old).  Any more than this and it may not set.  Whisk it all together and pour into a bowl and stick in the freezer for about 8 hours. I have a machine that mixes while it is in the freezer (cost me a tenner) so you may like to take your mix out from time to time and just give it a gentle mix and make sure it is setting ok.  This is a lovely refreshing second course for entertaining (or just as a delight on a hot summer's day) and is no trouble at all really.  Enjoy!  Serves 4.  Or two if you find it very moreish.  Which you will.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Comte de Lauvia "8" VSOP

Region: Eauze, Bas-Armagnac.
Age: 8 years, twice the minimum required ageing.
Appearance: medium, amber, wonderful legs.
Nose: Peach, apricot, nectarine, orange zest, vanilla and oak.
Palate: Medium acidity and body, peaches, apricots and vanilla with a very good length.

Price: £15.57 at Sainsburys for 50cl.

Value for money: bargain. Better than any Cognac for the same price.