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.

Monday, 16 August 2010

The WSET Diploma Sleepover 15 August 2010

1. Pommery Champagne NV Brut Rose
2. Sauvignon de Saint-Bris 2008
3. Marlborough Saint-Clair Sauvignon Blanc 2009
4. Lourensford South Africa Sauvignon Blanc 2009
5. Te Koko Cloudy Bay 2006
6. Soave Tamellini 2009
7. Evans and Tate Margaret River Chardonnay 2003
8. Schlumberger Alsace Grand Cru Pinot Gris 2005
9. Le Chevalier de Sterimberg Hermitage Blanc (Jaboulet) 2003
10. Gymnasium 2002 M-S-R Riesling Kabinett
11. Cono Sur 20 Barrels Pinot Noir 2007
12. Massale Kooyong Pinot Noir 2008
13. Stift Kloster Neuburg St Laurent 2007
14. Chinon Domaine de la Colline 2009
15. Chateaux Gamage Bordeaux Superieur 2006
16. Dominio de Conte Rioja 2004
17. Coudoulet de Beaucastel Rouge 2001
18. Chianti Gentilesco 2009
19. d'Arenberg "The Barbara Says So" Adelaide Hills Nebbiolo 2001
20. Le Bossu Gigondas 2004
21. Speri Amorone Classico 2004
22. Gaiun Martinenga Barbaresco 1999
23. Chateau Lascombes 1999 Margaux
24. Vieux Chateau Cros Lamarzelle St-Emilion 2002
25. Terrunyo Carmanere 2005
26. Grahams 1977 Vintage Port
27. Lenz Moser Trockenbeerenauslese 2000

2 we never opened (don't ask me why!): Ayala 2002 Champagne and 1990 Deschamps Nuit-St-Georges. Wine 24 was opened and not touched. Tonight then!

Stand-out wines: 5,8,9,17,19,26,27. I need to try some more again!