Armagnac is the oldest wine based eau-de-vie produced in the heart of Gascony, South West France. It is produced by a single distillation of white wine in an Armagnac alambic (still) and then left to age for many years in oak barrels before being sold. It is available in vintages that are specific to Armagnac, or indeed in several different blends.
The Armagnac areas of production and its methods of fabrication strictly follow the rules and regulations laid down by the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée attributed to this eau-de-vie in 1936.
Above all, Armagnac is a hand crafted product, produced in small quantities by the winemakers and negotiant houses, custodians of the time-honoured savoir-faire. The diversity of the different terroirs and grape varieties give this eau-de-vie a rich and diverse character that reflects the nature that surrounds it and the men that make it.
Armagnac is a defined Controlled Appellation of Origin (AOC), with three production areas.
The vineyards of Armagnac, in the heart of Gascony, extend throughout almost all of the Gers Departement, as well as partially into those of the Landes and the Lot-et-Garonne.
The Bas-Armagnac (lower) or black Armagnac area extends over what is known in Gascony as the light boulbènes (a very fine silty soil) and the so-called fawn sands. The spirits from this area are reputed for their enormous subtlety.
Haut-Armagnac (High) or white Armagnac is predominantly, calcareous soil for growing grapes, with the exception of the meridian sector, where, once again the silica-clay boulbènes are found. The distilled white wines produce very rare spirits, (less than 2 % of the global Armagnac production), with a delicate and fruity, aroma.
Ténarèze is located in the heart of the appellation zone. It is a transitional land, where the vine is cultivated predominantly on chalky-clay soil. The spirits produced in this area, tend to be generous and powerful.
Traditionally distillation takes place in a simple continuous still specific to Armagnac called an Alambic. This consists of a small boiler and the vapour from this rises though a short column with seven to nine plates. The wine is continually fed into the still but en route is used to cool the condenser: heat exchange takes place with the condensing spirit warming the wine and the cool wine causing the spirit to condense.
After the distillation begins the long aging in oak barrels which softens the taste and causes the development of more complex flavours and a brown colour. Aging in the barrel removes a part of the alcohol and water by evaporation (known as la part des anges —"angels' tribute" or " angels' share") and allows more complex aromatic compounds to appear by oxidation, which further modifies the flavour. Alcohol is naturally reducing by an average of 0,4% per year depending on the characteristics of the cellars. When the Armagnac is considered as matured, it is transferred to large glass bottles (called "Dame Jeanne") for storage. The main difference between Armagnac and other spirits is that, due to its relatively low % of alcohol, it is generally not diluted with water and therefore is not added with flavor or colour enhancers as are the major other brandies.
All the Magic of Armagnac wouldn't have been and still be possible today, without the endless devotion of the men and women that have for so many generation elaborated and brought to life this magical/ magnificent spirit. THANK YOU.
The Castelbajac family has been guarding the rich and hearty soil of Gascogny for centuries. Descendants of the first king of Navarre Eneko Arista, the lineage has birthed many illustrious figures who have tirelessly defended the land and its prosperity. Having mostly lived in the Bigorre and in Gascony/Armagnac the family has always had a long lasting love for this unique ‘Elixir'.
In between the wars and explorations of many, many years ago, some of the Castelbajacs were Armagnac producers. This is why Louis-Marie de Castelbajac has cast himself out to rediscover the absolute best of the land. Through methodical research akin to that of an archeologist, he explored for 3 years with a team to find a perfect Armaganac. Not only were the results favorable, but homage to the Elixir and his ancestors has been paid, bringing this complexly generous and unique treasure into a new era, an era that celebrates its 700 years of existence.