This VSOP Armagnac from Baron de Sigognac, this is from the Bas-Armagnac region and has spent six months in new casks, followed by seven years in old oak casks, meaning that technically it could qualify as an XO under the current rules.
The Story of Baron de Sigognac
The Guasch family have been in Gascony since the 12th century. They have owned the château at Bordeneuve since 1974. They are one of the region’s largest courtier and negociant operations. Today, the father-and-son team of Jean-Claude and Thomas look after viticulture, vinification and distillation.
Bordeneuve has 60 hectares dedicated to vineyards ; 75 % are planted with ugni blanc and the rest with baco. The vineyards are superbly situated on very fine clay-sand soils, which are high in acidity and in some places mixed with iron, the colour of which gives rise to the name sables fauves or tawny sands. Boulbène topsoil, the characteristic regional sediment, is rich in limestone.
Great terroir, fresh and naturally vinified wines: even before distillation, is the base product at Sigognac.
Scarce in this profession, the harvest of each parcel is preserved, vinified and distilled separately.
The Baron de Sigognac distillery is a traditional one located on the north wing of the main cellar, an old imposing building in the very heart of the vineyard.
There is one short column still at the domaine (almost 100 years old), which produces up to 50–60 casks of new spirit annually. The wine is distilled on its lees, and drawn off at 55–58 %, depending on the harvest. Distillation is continuous through day and night and manually controlled to account for temperature and humidity changes.
On leaving the alembic still, the eau-de-vie is placed in new oak barrels for nearly a year.
It is then transferred to older barrels in order that the tannins may mature slowly and therefore bring these special aromas both delicate and powerful.
Armagnac is produced in Gascony, France, located in the south-west of the Cognac region. Like the Cognac area, there are 3 important areas for Armagnac: Bas Armagnac, Haut Armagnac, and Tenareze. The region the Armagnac is made is usually shown on the bottle and if not, is probably a blend from more than two regions. The aristocracy in the region of Armagnac were the politically powerful Albret family from the 14th through to the 16th century and were against the monarchy of France, introducing Protestantism to south-west France, and during their rule the local spirit or 'eaux-de-vie' was commercialised and sold in France as Armagnac.
Whilst very similar to Cognac, Armagnac differs due to the difference in distillation. Armagnac is distilled only once in a continuous copper still whilst Cognac is double-distilled, but Armagnac is typically aged for longer than Cognac, most often over 10 years, the better examples are those aged from fifteen to twenty years old. Producers concentrate on four grape varieties: Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Folle Blanche and the hybrid Baco. These grapes give a wine low in alcohol and high in acidity, which acts as a natural preservative, because sulphur cannot be added to a wine due to be distilled. Aged in oak, usually in 400 litre barrels, for between four and twenty years at a temperature of 12 degrees C, and from where it absorbs the colour and flavours from the wood-ageing process, produced from up to eleven different grape types in the areas of Gers, Landes and Lot-et-Garonne, with half of Armagnac production destined for export. Since 1972, a small percentage of Armagnac produced; by Janneau for example, is produced by double distillation that results in a smoother, lighter, rounder eau-de-vie that ages more quickly.