Classification

Armagnac is very similar to cognac yet has suffered a very different fate. Despite an equally glorious past, it has managed to retain all of its authentic, traditional and artisanal character; a character that is sometimes difficult to control, not unlike the region and growers who produce it. In contrast to this image, armagnac has gradually gained in sophistication to become a regulated product.

  • Vignes du Chateau de Bordeneuve © Baron de Sigognac
  • Alambic © Baron de Sigognac
  • Contrôle des fûts © Baron de Sigognac
  • Cachetage à la cire © Baron de Sigognac

Armagnac styles and age counts

Like cognac, the armagnac market is made up of owner-producers and <i>négociants</i> (merchants). Owner-producers aim mainly to produce vintages, while <i>négociants</i> practice the art of blending.

Armagnac styles

  • Blends: eaux de vie are classified by age (age count). Thus an armagnac with Three Stars (or VS) is characterised by its youth. Armagnac XO (extra old) is one which has been blended with very old armagnacs. Aged for at least 10 years, it has an exceptional aromatic richness. Some <i>négociants</i> indicate the age of the youngest eau de vie on their bottle labelling so that their products can be easily identified: 15, 21 and 30 years.
  • Vintages: these armagnacs have been distilled in a single year, from a single harvest Each vintage is different but they all have rich aromas, which is due to their age. Interesting face: the year indicated on a vintage bottle refers to the harvest and not the distillation. Since the duration of the ageing process is the most important factor, producers generally specify the year of bottling on their labels.

Age count

For the classification of their eaux de vie , armagnac producers use an age count that starts on 1st April.

 

Age count Ageing stage Classification
00 Distillation no later than 31st March, following the harvest Cannot be marketed
0 Effective from 1st April following the date of distillation VS (or Three Stars)
1 aged for 2 years in oak casks
2 aged for 3 years in oak casks
3 to 4 aged for 4 - 5 years in oak casks VSOP
5 to 8 aged for 6 - 9 years in oak casks Napoléon
from 10 aged for 11 years in oak casks Hors d’âge, XO