Lying in the Vatican archives is an ancient Latin text, ‘Very Useful Book for Conserving One’s Health and Staying on Top Form’. Though it was printed in 1531, the document is dated to the year 1310, providing official evidence that Armagnac, a grape brandy from the Gascony region of South-western France, can claim to be at least 700 years old. The text was written by Prior Vital Dufour, a clergyman, doctor and scientist from Eauze - the capital of Armagnac.

Armagnac’s closest relative is Cognac another grape brandy from an appellation located about 100 miles north of Armagnac. Even though it is related to and often confused with Cognac, Armagnac is very different with regards to its grapes, terroir, distillation, élevage, blending, aromas, tastes and textures. In truth, France's two finest brandies made from wine are not very much alike at all.

 

Armagnac, it is said, reflects the personality of the people who make it. This would make sense, as the aim is to reflect as closely as possible the wine used and the ground in which the grapes are grown, hence the methods of vinification and distillation are tailored to achieve just this.

Armagnac pre-dates Cognac by about 150 years but never achieved the widespread sales figures that its relatives in the Charente obtained. In contrast to commercial sales, however, the independent producer of Armagnac has always commanded a more important restaurant presence and level of connoisseur appreciation.

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