Comte de Lauvia Fine 40%
MoM: ‘The entry level expression from Comte de Lauvia’s Armagnac range – their Comte de Lauvia Fine is a blend of young eaux-de-vie made with ugni blanc, baco blanc and folle blanche grapes. Fine is made up eaux-de-vie aged around 4-7 years.’
- N: Quirky start initially with some rubbery/sulphur-ish notes, briefly reminding me of that fabulously strange Fettercairn WB. Soon enough comes sugary-sweet dunnage-y lemon, soft sappy vanilla oak, fennel & amchoor powder, savoury-flour pastries and an unusual rhubarb/sweet cabbage combo… settling later for more orthodox fruit candy. Childish pleasures are to be had.
- T: Hugely improved with water. Undeniable malty bourbon=>sherry notes that lead to fruit candy/marshmallow-pureed fruit into a little marzipan. Creamy throughout, honeyed [likened to Balvenie’s Double-wood], and sugary – though with an accompanied heat.
- F: Marzipan to fruity bubblegum,…. then it’s largely gone – aside from some fruity-vanilla spice and honey vanilla that beds in for the night.
- C: I find this tremendously agreeable. Simple, youthful yet well composed. A malternative for sure.
Scores 79 points
Serge: ‘These are ‘éleveurs’, so rather growers, or shall we say nurturers. I don’t think they distil themselves, but they buy new fillings (not ready Armgnacs). Also, remember that in Armagnac and Cognac, you first use the freshest wood, and then the older wood. So you do not ‘re-rack’ or ‘finish’ your spirits, quite the opposite’.
Comte de Lauvia Reserva 40% WF76
MoM: ‘A top release from Comte de Lauvia, their Réserve Armagnac is a blend of eaux-de-vie created from Ugni Blanc, Baco Blanc and Folle Blance grapes matured initially in new casks made from Gascony oak before moving to older casks. Réserve is made up eaux-de-vie aged around 7-15 years.’
- N: Malty, grassy oak shavings, a touch of fruity dunnage fungal, Grape Nuts with sugary milk, bubblegum, [red] Starbursts, fried kofta’s/cutlets, a little TTW, cinnamon,… and yet I’m still striving for that certain something that is lurking within the desirable soft funky undergrowth. Very Spey-like [unbelievably], with a pinch of sweet fennel.
- T: Big power for 40%, and though somewhat rough & ready it’s not unlikeable. Light liquorice-fresh with an undefined/varied fruit base, hugged by agreeable yet obvious [>crude] sweet oaky/sappy vanilla.
- F: Mature-yet-fresh waxy fennel-toothpaste mouthfeel into the finish accompanied by a sweetish vanilla>heat. Concludes with dry heather and dried rosemary bubblegum.
- C: A little rough and slightly uneventful yet very quaffable. Has enough weight and bite for an ideal hip-flask number.
Scores 78 points
Serge: ‘Delord is a well-reputed little house in Lannepax, in the Gers region. They distil their own wines, the output being of… 30 litres per hour at full speed’.
MoM: ‘Back in 1893 Prosper Delord would travel around local farms with his still in order to distil their wine into eau-de-vie and, ultimately, Armagnac. It was his sons who founded Delord Freres (Brothers) in the village of Lannepax in 1932. Today the a fourth generation, Sylvain and Jérôme Delord, are at the helm, nosing, selecting and blending the eaux-de-vie.
Delord 1986 Bas-Armagnac 40%
- N: Confectionary Bakewell tart with vanilla essence & cream, glacier cherries and a small, hopefully inconsequential washing detergent note. Allow it to breath for a creamier/richer, more varnished fruity number with an ode to a BBR 18yo Caroni I have to hand – albeit less sweet.
- T: Initially assertive and fruity, quickly turning bitter and a touch plank-y before shrivelling & drying.
- F: Turns from bitter to sour, wrapping up as stewed prunes & black cherries with minimal sweetness. Adding water simply complicates matters and heralds the return of that [soft-fresh] detergent. Alongside the sustained prunes & cherries, concluding notes include bitter-sour citrus pith, coarsely ground cinnamon, a vanilla pod and liquorice. A little more detergent at the death.
- C: Plenty of resemblances to that BBR Caroni indeed [WF], though predominantly because of that detergent note. It’s one for fans of dark dar chocolate & Black Forest gateaux that’s for sure.
Scores 81 points
Lebonvin: ‘The House of Delord vineyard covers 42 hectares and is divided into 11 parcels located in the village of Lannepax. It is made up of the four traditional Armagnac grape varieties: Ugni Blanc 56%, Colombard 24%, Baco 14% and Folle-Blanche 6%.
The four grape varieties are harvested, pressed and vinified separately in a winemaking cellar, a few metres from the distillery. Temperature control, must settling and racking are all techniques well mastered by Sylvain Delord. He is looking for an aromatic wine that is slightly acidic and low in alcohol which is the ideal wine for the distillation.
The distillery is in Lannepax, the family’s native village. The distillation, an essential and fascinating step in the creation of Armagnac takes place in the heart of winter. Delord are one of the only Armagnac houses using the two methods of distillation; the continuous distillation method that is typical for Armagnacs and also double distillation. Their two Armagnac alambics, one of which is a “Sier” dating from 1900, are both column stills equipped with particular plates called “spider plates” which are ideal for the production of old Armagnacs. The two double distillation stills produce fruity eaux-de-vie destined for young Armagnacs’.
Delord 1976 Bas-Armagnac 40%
- N: Much like the 1986 but with a softer fusty-stale biscuit>lemon detergent twang. It’s drier & darker too but not necessarily any more interesting, initially. I concede however, it’s a tad richer/murkier with a more waxy grape-y>cask presence. Later I pick out lots of fruity-ish black tea, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon & amchoor powder, really dry/dusty prunes>dates, sweet capers, dried goji berries & other assorted dried fruit pieces, green olive=artichoke paste, floury buckwheat crackers,…
- T: Again like the 1986 it’s somewhat assertive initially yet it works through similar fruity bitter-sour phases, albeit at a far slower pace. Here there’s no reference to stewed prunes, settling instead for cherry tutti-fruity uber-vanilla-ed ice-cream, countered with a dark waxy-ish firm-bitter-herbal side that’s supported by dried nettles parsley & mint.
- F: Very bitter/dry cherry<strawberry vanilla concludes alongside hay and fine fruity wood shavings. A sustained finish actually.
- C: A murky dry bitter one with some up & down pleasures. If that’s your thing you’re in luck as it’s a mere £60 from all the usual places [Jan ’18].
Scores 83 points
Chateau de Lacquy 7yo 40%
Who needs to know what VSOP means if there’s a universally understood age statement on the label?
- N: Onion-y cheese straws! Sweet-wise, it’s a mix adhering to boiled sweets, one-penny confectionary and vanilla in the main – young & simple/basic. Later I get dry pantry smells, yeast flakes, a streak of tomato paste, nut=seed fungal, lime vanilla and sweet rum-vegetal. I get the link between rum & armagnac often – because of the small-scale column still distillation perhaps? All subtle stuff but there’s lots here including an ‘it’s been raining in the night’ smell you get in the morning. I’ve the feeling this was bottled prematurely but what do I know?
- T: Delivery is surprising pleasing after the mild nose. It’s spirity sweet, Koval millet-sweet with honeyed pear drops, yet it’s also decidedly soft-medicinal like you’ll find from many a bourbon. We arent so far away from Tixylix, but for a driving, bitter herbal oaked side. As well as an astringent roughness, like Comte’s Reserva, this has some kick at 40%.
- F: Spirity candy-fruity<honeyed liquorice, metallic/spirity bubblegum~vanilla and a texturally tacky heathery grape-y mouthfeel-y result. The immaturity is rather clear. Plenty of toasted grape seeds>skin at the death which makes sense, also with heaps of bourbon vanilla and a touch of dunnage-fungal.
- C: This style is rather young & basic. We can do far better.
Scores 77 points
armagnac.com: ‘The domain has its own distillery equipped with two continuous flow Armagnac stills, typical of the region. Distillation is made at the beginning of December, 30 to 40 days after the end of harvests. It takes one to two weeks to obtain the white Armagnac put in 400 oak barrels, stock of the Château. 40 different vintages’
Chateau de Lacguy 2000 40%.
- N: Far far darker in colour than the 7yo. Full bodied creamy-sweet, fruity-vanilla start. It’s not the first time I’ve picked out spelt in [young/current-modern] Armagnac. It would seem those prevalent floury, yeasty fungal notes appear in Armagnac at a younger age than equivalently aged whisky. This is more akin to [bourbon] corn than grape with vanilla cream pastries, minimal fruits. Quite the all-rounder actually that displays an array of notes from various camps. Lots of movement on the nose suggests good things to come.
- T: Decidedly more rich/aged than the 7yo and with a nice developing & enveloping mouthfeel coating. Again it’s like an aged bourbon with its varnished/glazed vanilla fruits. I’m thinking Rip Van Winkle 10yo, but maybe we are closer to the Pappy 15 – albeit with a fresher more youthful, shallower dry-fungal/decay depth. Water really helps consolidate the form, now a full-bodied juice that swims effortlessly. Behaves more like 50% than 40%.
- F: Finishes like a strong sour/savoury-sweet vanilla [rye] bourbon with a slight medicinal edge, now more akin to the George T or Handy from Buffalo Trace. It still remains somewhat varnished & drying with fennel/cumin seeds and a sappy fungal, vegetal green, aniseed stick heat into sweet=savoury-sour vanilla cream.
- C: Not sure how old this is but it has a good story to tell. More bourbon-alternative that malternative. Easily the best of the night.
Scores 85 points