The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 25

In this issue, visit France from home - Gascony, and Provence, fabulous day trips from Paris, captivating Toulouse and charming Northern France. Recipes, guides and a whole heap more to entertain and inspire...

Armagnac There are three

Armagnac There are three growing areas of Armagnac: Bas Armagnac, Armagnac Tenareze and Haut- Armagnac. Together they form 15,000 hectares of vines, originally planted by the Romans, from which wine, white, red and rosé and Floc de Gascogne (a fortified wine and popular aperitif) are grown and of which 42,00 hectares are used for the exclusive production of Armagnac. Armagnac is the oldest French eaude-vie and is at least 700 years old, possibly going back as far as the 10th century. It was mentioned in records dated 1310 when a priest in Eauze, the capital of Bas Armagnac, praised Armagnac saying it was good “to keep your heath and stay on top form.” Mind you, he also listed a whole heap of its virtues including that the fumes of Armagnac could kill serpents, it cured colic and tooth ache. There are different types of Armagnac. Like Cognac, there’s VS (Very Superior), VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale), Hors d’Age Armagnac which is a minimum of ten years old but often much older, XO (Extra Old) a minimum of ten years old and Blanche Armagnac, which is a young white spirit and quite new to the market (since 2005). Unlike Cognac (twice distilled), Armagnac (once distilled) production isn’t big industry - it’s all small houses. Families and artisans producing their own unique blend. We headed to Chateau Millet on the outskirts of Eauze to find out more with a tour and what’s known as an Alambic Dinner.

Alambic Dinner Each year, some Armagnac makers open their cellars and invite the public in to witness the distillation, taste the young Armagnac, join in the fun and enjoy fabulous food and wine. The distillation process starts with the heating of the grape juice in a continuous still known as an alembic armagnaçaise. The stills are mobile devices, roaming around the countryside, stopping off at domaines and operated by an expert who works the magic through the night. Many of the smaller batches made by these talented producers never get seen outside the area – and that’s another good reason to visit! We joined the Chateau de Millet alembic dinner on the first Saturday in December. Driving down tiny country lanes under a frosty, star filled night was an adventure in itself. We entered the room, heated by the alambic still on wheels, it’s flames fanned by old vine wood. A live band played, everyone was invited to taste the new Armagnac straight from the still (takes your breath away I can tell you) and the food was amazing and the Chateau de Millet wines superb. It was an uplifting, fun and utterly delicious affair and I’d go back to Gascony just to be a part of this amazing event again. If you’d like to know more about Armagnac and join a dinner French Country Adventures will run a unique tour in November, details here: Armagnac Tours

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