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Index:Distillates and More: Is there a market for Armagnac?  New Post
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jc
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Quote  Posted: 01/27/2005 3:42:13 AM GMT Next MessageTop of Page
I recently became aware of a french brandy, Armagnac and thought highly of it. At the same time, I don't see it being marketed so widely like Cognac VSOP etc.. Is it considered a 2nd class brandy or why there seems to be little information about it.

So far, I found out that while Armagnac is distilled only once (hence contains less alcohol), Cognac is distilled twice and aged in different oak.

I am curious as to what other information I can find about it and why is it not treated like the "prized" cognac?

Cheers!!
antonello
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Quote  Posted: 01/29/2005 1:59:59 PM GMT Previous MessageNext MessageTop of Page
Armagnac is also one of my favourite brandies, but I should also add to the list Grappa, Cognac and Jerez Brandy as well. Armagnac is a magnificent brandy and I would not certainly consider it as a 2nd class thing. Cognac certainly is more popular and known and - after all - they truly are two different brandies in many aspects. I would suggest you to read our report at the address www.DiWineTaste.com/dwt/en2004057.php in case you did not to that already.
Here in Italy is pretty easy to find Armagnac in stores, of course, it is even easier to find Cognac or Grappa. Armagnac has always been considered as a rougher brandy than Cognac. Armagnac has always been considered as a "masculine" brandy, whereas Cognac has always had the fame to be more "feminine". I do not care much about these definitions, and I consider them to be very good brandies.
Antonello Biancalana
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jc
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Quote  Posted: 01/31/2005 4:32:39 AM GMT Previous MessageNext MessageTop of Page
Hello Antonello! Thanks for your feedback about Armagnac and yes, I have read through your report at Diwinetaste. I would like to raise a couple of questions which came to mind. Hope you can help.

1. Is the maximum age for brandy (armagnac and cognac) about 60 years, after which they become bitter and rough? Why and how do they change this way? Is it referring to being kept in oak casks?

2. Why does the length of time a brandy being stored in a bottle does not affect it (like other wines)? Is this applicable to only bottled brandies?

3. Does this mean that the taste of brandy doesn't change once it is bottled for sale?

Thanks very much! Cheers.
jimmy
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Quote  Posted: 02/01/2005 6:26:46 PM GMT Previous MessageNext MessageTop of Page
Armagnac!! To be honest with you I prefer Cognac, but I must admit Armagnac is a wonderful brandy as well and, of course, it is pretty easy to find some here in France. To be confident with you jc, I did not know Brandy did not change after they have been bottled. I think this to be strange and I tend to believe the aging in bottle may affect it. After all bottled wine continues its aging, so why should it not be the same for brandies?
Of course, I have never had a brandy aged for 60 years or more, but I heard of some Cognacs being aged for more than 200 years. I do not know about Armagnac, though.
jc
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Quote  Modified: 02/02/2005 11:06:03 AM GMT Previous MessageNext MessageTop of Page
jimmy wrote:
Armagnac!! To be honest with you I prefer Cognac, but I must admit Armagnac is a wonderful brandy as well and, of course, it is pretty easy to find some here in France. To be confident with you jc, I did not know Brandy did not change after they have been bottled. I think this to be strange and I tend to believe the aging in bottle may affect it. After all bottled wine continues its aging, so why should it not be the same for brandies?

To be honest, Jimmy, I am still waiting for some response from Antonello or some professional person regarding this issue.
antonello
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Quote  Posted: 02/03/2005 11:10:36 AM GMT Previous MessageNext MessageTop of Page
jc wrote:
1. Is the maximum age for brandy (armagnac and cognac) about 60 years, after which they become bitter and rough? Why and how do they change this way? Is it referring to being kept in oak casks?

Like you rightly guessed, wine brandies are rarely aged for more than 60 years, after which they become bitter and rough. You should consider the environment offered by a wood cask. Wood is an organic matter allowing the passage of air from the inside of cask to the outside and vice versa. Through the pores of woods also pass other substances including water and part of the alcohol (the so called "part des anges"). This cause a strong reduction of the liquid in the course of years as well as a strong oxidation.

jc wrote:
2. Why does the length of time a brandy being stored in a bottle does not affect it (like other wines)? Is this applicable to only bottled brandies?

This is mainly because of the high quantity of alcohol contained in a brandy working as a preservative. In a bottle there is no exchange of air from and to the outside, therefore there is no reduction of liquids. The very tiny quantity of oxygen is not enough to drastically change the characteristics of the brandy also because of alcohol. The same also applies to all brandies including Grappa.

jc wrote:
3. Does this mean that the taste of brandy doesn't change once it is bottled for sale?

Right. You can virtually keep a brandy forever bottled and see no changes in its qualities, at least as long as the bottle is properly sealed.

Happy Armagnac!
Antonello Biancalana
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joergwein
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Quote  Posted: 02/04/2005 11:03:24 AM GMT Previous MessageNext MessageTop of Page
I must admit I am totally ignorant about Armagnac. I mean, I heard of it but I have never had the chance to try it. The only French brandies I have ever had were Cognac and Calvados. What is the difference between Cognac and Armagnac? Aren't they both wine brandies?
Jörg - A passion for Italian wine!
jc
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Quote  Posted: 02/06/2005 6:00:24 AM GMT Previous MessageNext MessageTop of Page
joergwein wrote:
I must admit I am totally ignorant about Armagnac. I mean, I heard of it but I have never had the chance to try it. The only French brandies I have ever had were Cognac and Calvados. What is the difference between Cognac and Armagnac? Aren't they both wine brandies?


Hi Jorg, you will learn about the differences (Armagnac and Cognac) if you read this thread from the beginning.

By the way, I have never tried Calvados but I think it has nothing to do with grapes. I believe Calvados is a kind of brandy distilled from apple cider. Does it taste anything like cognac?

Antonello - Many thanks for your clarification on armagnac and cognac and brandies in general. We learn something new everyday!!

Cheers!
antonello
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Quote  Posted: 02/15/2005 6:30:12 PM GMT Previous MessageNext MessageTop of Page
jc wrote:
By the way, I have never tried Calvados but I think it has nothing to do with grapes. I believe Calvados is a kind of brandy distilled from apple cider. Does it taste anything like cognac?

Calvados is a wonderful brandy distilled from apple cider and it does not taste like Cognac at all! They simply are two different product, different in anything. I suggest you reading our article about Calvados at www.diwinetaste.com/dwt/en2004037.php

jc wrote:
Antonello - Many thanks for your clarification on armagnac and cognac and brandies in general. We learn something new everyday!!

My pleasure. I am glad you consider diwinetaste a place where to learn something new everyday. This is, after all, the goal of our magazine, to spread wine (and distillates) culture, a wise culture, we hope!
Antonello Biancalana
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jc
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Quote  Posted: 02/17/2005 7:00:38 AM GMT Previous MessageNext MessageTop of Page
antonello wrote:

Calvados is a wonderful brandy distilled from apple cider and it does not taste like Cognac at all! They simply are two different product, different in anything. I suggest you reading our article about Calvados at www.diwinetaste.com/dwt/en2004037.php

Thanks Antonello. Now I know about Calvados!

Cheers!
jc
jc
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Quote  Posted: 02/17/2005 7:12:50 AM GMT Previous MessageNext MessageTop of Page
This is about brandies - cognac to be specific. My uncle recently told me that he had a collection of expensive cognacs which he kept for a long time (I think about 10 years). When he decided to open them (they were sealed and never opened), some of the cork stoppers have broken off from the top and some broken into small pieces. These bottles were stored upright, in humid conditions (between 50-70 percent) and temperature of around 20-30 C.

I thought the correct way to store cognacs is placing the bottles upright. So what is wrong and what should be done to prevent cork breakages in cognacs?

Anyone with similar experience? All feedback welcomed! Thanks.

jc
antonello
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Quote  Posted: 02/18/2005 5:59:46 PM GMT Previous MessageNext MessageTop of Page
jc wrote:
This is about brandies - cognac to be specific. My uncle recently told me that he had a collection of expensive cognacs which he kept for a long time (I think about 10 years). When he decided to open them (they were sealed and never opened), some of the cork stoppers have broken off from the top and some broken into small pieces. These bottles were stored upright, in humid conditions (between 50-70 percent) and temperature of around 20-30 C.

I thought the correct way to store cognacs is placing the bottles upright. So what is wrong and what should be done to prevent cork breakages in cognacs?

Anyone with similar experience? All feedback welcomed! Thanks.

jc

You are right about the correct position of bottles for keeping brandies although the temperature should be lower, about 14-16° C.
The problem with brandies is that - with time - alcohol deteriorates natural cork and, as a consequence, its consistence gets weaker and breaks in pieces, not to mention the fact oxygen gets in! To prevent this, many brandy producers, notably Grappa producers, are using synthetic corks to seal their bottles and, of course, this has no detrimental effect on brandy while ensuring a longer keeping time.
You should replace corks every five years (about 15 years for wine bottles) or to drink them before the cork breaks. If you need help in the latter case, I can bring glasses with me....
Antonello Biancalana
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jc
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Quote  Posted: 02/25/2005 3:10:25 AM GMT Previous MessageNext MessageTop of Page
antonello wrote:


You are right about the correct position of bottles for keeping brandies although the temperature should be lower, about 14-16° C.
The problem with brandies is that - with time - alcohol deteriorates natural cork and, as a consequence, its consistence gets weaker and breaks in pieces, not to mention the fact oxygen gets in! To prevent this, many brandy producers, notably Grappa producers, are using synthetic corks to seal their bottles and, of course, this has no detrimental effect on brandy while ensuring a longer keeping time.
You should replace corks every five years (about 15 years for wine bottles) or to drink them before the cork breaks. If you need help in the latter case, I can bring glasses with me....


Hi Antonello! When you say alcohol deteriorates the cork, how does it happen when brandies are stored in the upright position and the cork does not touch the brandy. Doesn't this eliminate the problem of cork deterioration? I believe the corks (stoppers) they used in brandy bottles are not the same kinds as in still wines - brandy stoppers have plastic mouldings with specially treated corks, isn't?

Is it a normal practice to replace brandy corks every 5 years? Where and how can you do that? Do you take them back to the distillery or can the stoppers be purchased in shops?

Lastly, I shall let my uncle know that you will solve his problem of cork breakages by visiting him. You guys will have a lot to talk about....

Cheers,
jc
rickie
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Quote  Posted: 02/25/2005 6:12:35 PM GMT Previous MessageNext MessageTop of Page
I recall having Armagnac just once. I do not exactly remember every thought of that moment, anyway I can recall it gave me the idea of being a little more ruvid and harsh than Cognac. Is this normal or was that because I had a bad quality Armagnac?
Talking about Calvados, I heard it can also be made with pear cider. Now I read in this thread it is made by apple cider only. Can you all be more specific about this?
Richard Johnson
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Quote  Posted: 03/04/2005 6:00:42 PM GMT Previous MessageNext MessageTop of Page
rickie wrote:
I recall having Armagnac just once. I do not exactly remember every thought of that moment, anyway I can recall it gave me the idea of being a little more ruvid and harsh than Cognac. Is this normal or was that because I had a bad quality Armagnac?
Talking about Calvados, I heard it can also be made with pear cider. Now I read in this thread it is made by apple cider only. Can you all be more specific about this?

As far as I am concerned, Calvados is made with apple cider and I do not think it can be made with pear cider as well. Maybe antonello or jc can be of help about this.
I have never had this Armagnac and the only wine brandy I had was Cognac. If I am not wrong, they both are made with the very same grapes and the only difference is the production area.
Steve
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Quote  Posted: 05/03/2005 5:54:46 PM GMT Previous MessageTop of Page
wineguy wrote:
As far as I am concerned, Calvados is made with apple cider and I do not think it can be made with pear cider as well. Maybe antonello or jc can be of help about this.
I have never had this Armagnac and the only wine brandy I had was Cognac. If I am not wrong, they both are made with the very same grapes and the only difference is the production area.

As far as I know, Calvados can also be made with pear cider. If I am not wrong pear cider can be added to apple cider before distilling. I do not know whether Calvados can be made with pear cider only.
Cognac and Armagnac are usually made with the same grapes, although Cognac can also be made with Folle Blanche, a grape that adds, in my opinion, a touch of class.

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