Words by: Simon Difford
Blanche has long been consumed in the Armagnac region but you had to know a distiller in order to obtain what was flavoursome hootch. However, in 2007 this unaged Armagnac spirit was officially recognised by the French authorities and brought under Armagnac's Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée.
Blanche Armagnac may be made from any of four grape varieties: Folle Blanche, Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Baco Blanc. However, most favour Folle Blanche for its aromatic fruity finesse. The grapes used must have been cultivated in designated vineyards within the Armagnac region.
The wine of these grapes is distilled using an alambic armagnaçais, a simple column still specific to the Armagnac region. The distillate comes off the still at a relatively low alcohol strength, so retaining much of the grapes fragrant character to produce a clear distillate not dissimilar to Chilean Pisco. This grape distillate is not barrel aged but may be reduced with water to a bottling strength that must be a minimum of 40% alcohol by volume.
According to the strict rules of the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, before a batch of Blanche may be bottled its quality must be passed by a panel of official experts.
A relatively new addition to the Armagnac Appellation, these Armagnac eaux-de-vie have pungent fruity and floral aromas and are not unlike Pisco in character.
Released in August 2015, as the name suggest, Blanche au Citron is a white armagnac with citrus flavouring. Blanche au Citron is made with unaged ugni blanc armagnac from the Bordeneuve estate and citrus flavouring. Clean, pungent lime and lemon zest with and underlying bready notes.
Delord Blanche is an unaged Armagnac double distilled from 100% Colombard grapes grown in the Bas region. Wonderfully aromatic grapes with green woody plant stems/grassy notes, chamois leather, almond and waxy pear.
Domaine D'Espérance Blanche Armagnac is single distilled from Baco 22A and Folle Blanche cultivated in the sandy clay soil of Grand Bas Armagnac. Wonderfully aromatic oily grapes and pear with white pepper and cardamom spice.
Domaine du Tariquet, one of the Armagnac regions leading producers, launched its Eau-de-Vie de Folle Blanche (named after its grape variety) in 2004. Following this, in 2006, an unaged Blanche Armagnac AOC was officially created so Tariquit’s ‘Eau-de-Vie de Folle Blanche’ is now ‘Blanche Armagnac’. Clean and pungent pear with subtle honeydew melon and toasted almond.
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