About XO Armagnac

About XO Armagnac
Armagnac is the oldest type of Brandy in France, with documented references to distillation dating back to the early 15th century. The Armagnac region is located in the heart of the ancient province of Gascony in the southwest corner of France. As in Cognac, there are regional growing zones: Bas-Armagnac, Haut Armagnac, and Tenareze. The primary grapes used in making Armagnac are likewise the Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, and Colombard. But distillation takes place in the unique alambic Armagnacais, a type of column still that is even more "inefficient" than a typical Cognac pot still.

The resulting brandy has a rustic, assertive character and aroma that requires additional cask aging to mellow it out. The best Armagnacs are aged in casks made from the local Monlezun oak. In recent years Limousin and Troncais oak casks have been added to the mix of casks as suitable Monlezun oak becomes harder to find.

Most Armagnacs are blends, but unlike Cognac, single vintages and single vineyard bottlings can be found. The categories of Armagnac are generally the same as those of Cognac (V.S., V.S.O.P., X.O., etc.). Blended Armagnacs frequently have a greater percentage of older vintages in their mix than comparable Cognacs, making them a better value for the discerning buyer.

Top Picks for XO Armagnac

Clos Martin XO Armagnac
93 points
Clear dark amber color. Toasty, nutty aromas and flavors of butter roasted nuts, baking chocolate, spiced figs, apricot and strawberries, and leather with a lightly tannic, vibrant, dry-yet-fruity medium-full body and a warming, complex, long finish with accents of caramelized fruits, nutskin, oak bark, and metallic ore finish. A rich, XO Armagnac with lots of nutty oak and deep fruit flavors.
93 points $46.99
Chateau de Maniban Bas Armagnac XO
90 points
Clear copper color. Aromas and flavors of spiced fruits and nuts, toffee, orange marmalade, and nutmeg with a satiny, bright, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, layered, long finish with nuances of creme brulee, honeyed fruits, sassafras float, and dusty limestone finish. A rich, supple XO Armagnac for contemplative sipping.