About VSOP Armagnac

About VSOP 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 VSOP Armagnac

Marquis de Montesquiou Reserve Armagnac
88 points
Golden amber color. Aromas of dates in caramel, candied nuts, toasted challah, and banana puree with a velvety, crisp, dry-yet-fruity light-to-medium body and a warming, amusing, medium-length raisin, cardamom, black pepper, and custard finish. A nicely rounded Armagnac that makes for a toasty cool-weather nightcap.
88 points $39.99
Janneau VSOP Armagnac
84 points
Golden amber color. Aromas of roasted pine nuts, enamel, gingerbread cookies, gelatin, charred nuts, mustard, salami, and brie with a lightly tannic, crisp, dryish light-to-medium body and a warming, medium-length cocoa and toast finish. A rustic Armagnac for cocktail play.
84 points $59.99