Armagnac Janneau Grand Armagnac 1920s
Provenance: Artcurial Deauville, 11/24/2012
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|Vintage text||presumed 1920's bottling 1960's|
|Fill level||High shoulder|
Armagnac is France's oldest and most prestigious wine-based eau-de-vie. In the 16th century, it was sold over the counter in pharmacies as a "medicine". Armagnac began to be aged in oak barrels in the 17th century. Nowadays, the Armagnac region can be divided into three production areas: Bas-Armagnac, Ténarèze and Haut-Armagnac. Unlike Cognac, Armagnac is comprised of a broad palette of grape varieties, each very different, allowing for a very particular aromatic balance: Bacco adds to the wine's structure and lends it full-bodied, rich and dense aromas that require long ageing processes to fully express their roundness, smoothness and length on the palate. Folle Blanche, on the other hand, provides freshness and fruitiness in the first years of ageing. Ugni Blanc, ideal for distilling, as well as Colombard, are the final names on the region's list of most common grape varieties. When aged for 15 years or more, Armagnac displays flavours of hazelnut, orange peel, cocoa, and prunes combined with aromas of rose, verbena, leather, vanilla and even cinnamon. These Armagnacs are very dense and rounded and fully express their soil. After 25 years, Armagnacs lose their potency and mellow. Their original character gives way to oak barrel fragrances and their length on the palate becomes truly remarkable.
Janneau Fils et Cie(We currently have no information available on this brand)
Janneau et Fils Cie
Maison Janneau et Fils Cie in the Gers region is the oldest of the large houses of Armagnac. It was founded in the town of Condom by Pierre Etienne Janneau in 1851. Four generations of the Janneau family have followed, passing down the secret of Grand Armagnac from father to son. Maison Janneau is one of the leading producers that carry out the distillation, aging, and bottling of its production fully in the region of origin, the AOC Armagnac. Maison Janneau as of today is home to one of the most critical production plant and storage facility of the Armagnac region and is a leading brand in the Armagnac sector producing exclusively Super Premium Quality Armagnac. The grape farmers of the area bring their harvests to the Maison Janneau, which guarantees meticulous distillation, followed by the long aging of the spirits and finally for sales and distribution. Janneau has established a solid international reputation and plays a significant economic role in the Armagnac region.
The Distillation Process
At the House of Janneau, they have been blending since the late 1970’s the spirits obtained from both methods to create our assemblages, a characteristic which distinguishes our Armagnacs from all others. The percentage of brandies used plays an essential role in forming the attributes of each collection, and it varies according to age. The distillation is carried out in Winter and by law must be completed by 31st March following the harvest. There are two very different distillation methods consented by statute for the distillation of Armagnac. The most common is Continuous Distillation, which uses a unique column still, also called Armagnaçais, extracts vigorously, aromatic brandies, rich in essential oils. In 1972 Janneau reintroduced the Double Distillation method to the Region, which was the original method of distillation in alambic before the limitations imposed in 1903. The Double Distillation method is a more complicated method that uses different copper alembics extracting only the heart of the distillation thus eliminating “heads” and “tails.” The first product called “brouillis” is distilled again for the second time. At the very beginning the resulting liquid, called the head, is left aside as it contains some impurities. The heart, which is the part of the distillate achieving the desired quality is conserved, and the tail is set aside with the head to be distilled again with the next batch of wine. Freshly distilled double distilled Armagnac is as transparent as water with decidedly fruity, occasional plum, green apples and also vanilla aromas.
The freshly distilled, transparent and crystalline spirit is about to aged in 450-liter casks, made of oak from the nearby forests of Limousin and Monlezun. Each barrel has different characteristics and depending on the type of oak tree used, provides the liquid with its various tannin hues and woody aromas. It takes a few more years before the spirit acquires its typical amber color and subtle tannin flavors. The aging is carried out in the ancient cellars, built in 1851, where approximately 10% of the entire aged Armagnac stock of the region, rests and ages in complete silence.
When the eau-de-vie reaches the desired age, it is successively blended with others of different origins (selected by grape, age, and distillation method), giving life to a cuvée or “assemblage” that perfectly reflects Maison’s style. Only at this time, the cuvée takes the name of Grand Armagnac at Maison Janneau. Blending is a delicate art based on experience and skill passed down through the generations of Cellar Masters who assess the characteristics not only by taste but by smell, aroma, and color as well. Each Maison, including Janneau, has its secrets, just like a recipe, determining its complex style. As soon as the blending operations are over the Armagnac is stored for six months, in large vats of 18.000 liters called “foudres,” to reach a full level of homogeneity before going to bottling.