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.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Baron de Pibrac: Sigognac at Oddbins!

On the 29th April I spent three hours in the late afternoon with Thomas Guasch of Baron de Signognac/Chateau Bordeneuve. A humble genius. It was a privilege. You can see his new planting of 4ha of Ugni Blanc here and his continuous still. He is in charge of everything - from planting to vinification to distilling and ageing. He only uses local Gascon oak. Half an hour before I arrived, I had tasted a complex blend of some of the best vintages between 1865 and 1974. Then, up first at Sigognac, was Thomas' VS. It really hit the spot for me. Wonderfully fresh, aromas and flavours of orange, apricot, honey and peach. Very smooth and very good length. 1/3 Baco Blanc and 2/3 Ugni Blanc. 3 years in oak. As I walked through the bottling operation I saw a palate of Baron de Pibrac - exclusive to Oddbins (I used to sell it to cognac-wanting customers at Christmas! I couldn't possibly sell them a cognac when I had something much superior to offer: Pibrac). He told me it was the same product as the Sigognac VS. Oddbins are selling this for £16.99 for 70cl. It has to be one of the best grape spirit bargains to be had in the UK. A must-have. Available from Oddbins stores or have it delivered at Even with £5.99 delivery, it is still a bargain.


  1. I have a bottle of armagnac with the following label:

    "Fine d'Armagnac
    Vieillie dans son fut de chene
    Reserve de la Maison Blanche"

    If anyone knows anything about this Armagnac, please let me know, it has been in my family for years.

    thank you,

  2. Hi Todd. There is no trace of this brand at the BNIA. I can tell you that 1898 is a very rare vintage with less than 1000 bottles in the Armagnac cellars. A photo would be very helpful. If you can take a photo of the bottles and send it to me at I will do my best to find out what I can for you.

    Best wishes and thank you for your comment.