France: Day 8 - Rounding Up the Goods - Part II

Let's keep going, shall we? I need to organize these notes and a blog post is a great way to refresh my memory.

Christelle at Domaine de Maouhum definitely stole our hearts, but were we too blinded by her beauty to properly assess her Armagnacs? I don’t think so. Her stuff is outrageous. Everything we tasted was outstanding. 1983, 1994, VS, XO—load up the truck. We’re taking everything.

There’s definitely business to be done at Sandemagnan. They had plenty of older brandies that showed character, but were refined and restrained. A 1975 vintage was stunning, while another 1980 expression took my breath away. Because they’re a more upscale operation, will that extra attention to detail ultimately raise the sticker price? We’ll have to see where these land before making any decisions.

We were praying for good Armagnac on this trip and the former church at La Grangerie definitely answered all of our prayers. That chai was jam-packed with nothing but winners. The 2001 is going to be the star of this trip—mark my words. It’s like Weller Bourbon, but the label says something in French about a Chateau or something. Do they make wheated Armagnac? I don’t think so. One of the funniest things I heard on this trip was a dig by one of the producers about whiskey: “Why in the hell would I want to drink something made from the shit I feed my chickens?”

There are mountains of old barrels waiting to be claimed at Carpoulat, but have the brandies been inside of them for too long? This will ultimately be a pet project for us, I think. We’ll have to do some serious reworking of these brandies before they’ll be ready to bottle. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible though. It’s definitely a project worth investing in.

Pellehaut is obviously tried, tested, and customer-approved. Definitely expect a new 1986 vintage expression and maybe more from the mid-1990s. 

The property at Papolle has the best of what the Gascogne landscape has to offer: rolling hills, vines, small patches of forest, a small river, and some of the best grapes in the Bas-Armagnac for distillation. This estate really has it all—including loads of fantastic vintage brandies that are just there for the taking. 1973, 1975, 1978, 1987 (what seems to be the one constantly-fantastic at every producer) and the potential for blends like Hor d’Age and XO. Plus, we really, really liked Mr. Piffard.

What are we up to now? Like thirty-something new Armagnacs, right? And a handful of old favorites? Good thing we’re opening a gigantic new store in San Francisco this summer. I’m going to need more space.

Now that I’m done thinking about all this, can someone please pass me that gigantic plate of foie gras?

-David Driscoll

David Driscoll