Words by: Simon Difford
Age statements on Armagnac labels refer to the youngest eau-de-vie in the blend and the following recognised terms may be used to denote an Armagnac's age.
Blanche = unaged Armagnac distillate.
However, most favour Folle Blanche for its aromatic fruity finesse. The grapes used must have been cultivated in designated vineyards within the Armagnac region.
V.S. or three star = must be at least one-year-old and two years if it is to be exported.
V.S.O.P. = must be at least four-years-old.
X.O. & Napoléon = must be at least six-years-old.
Hors d'Âge = must be ten years or older.
Vintage = an age statement from a single year. This may be from a single cask or a blend of casks from different producers but all the Armagnac in the blend must have been harvested in the stated year. Vintage Armagnacs may be reduced to 40% alc./vol. but most are bottled at their natural cask strength - typically between 40 and 48% alc./vol.
Armagnac does not mature further once bottled and should be stored upright so that the alcohol does not attack the cork.