The production area of the Armagnac-Ténarèze AOC is located around Condom, north-west of the Gers and south of the Lot-et-Garonne. Its Armagnacs produced on boulbène (fine, siliceous soil) and clay-limestone soils, are often powerful and full-bodied.
Grapes and Terroir : In Armagnac, the terroir also is declined in the plural. The Bas-Armagnac, Armagnac-Ténarèze and Haut-Armagnac together constitute a vineyard in the shape of a vine leaf that represents 15,000 hectares of planted vines (shared with Côtes de Gascogne IGP and AOP Floc of Gascogne, of which today 4200 ha are identified to produce Armagnac expressly) on a part of the three departments (Gers, Landes and Lot-et-Garonne). The climate is temperate and mild. The oceanic influence, wet, attenuated by the forest of the Landes, is most noticeable in the western Appellation. In the east, the Mediterranean climate is expressed with the wind of Autan. The Armagnac-Ténarèze, around Condom, covers the north-west of the Gers and the south of the Lot-et-Garonne. It represents approximately 32% of the areas identified in Armagnac. The Armagnacs produced on these boulbène and clay-limestone soils are often powerful and full-bodied. The Haut-Armagnac, known as Armagnac Blanc because of the limestones that flourish in this part of the country, includes the east of the department of Gers and part of the Lot and Garonne. The cultivation of vines developed there during the XIXth century in a period of strong demand and some producers still maintain today the Armagnac tradition.
The vine : In terms of grape varietals, diversity and adaptation to the soil are the rule. Among the ten varietals authorized in the Armagnac, four of them print their personality with brandy. Ugni-blanc is the distillation grape par excellence. It produces acidic, low alcoholic wines which, after distillation, produce fine and quality spirits. This grape variety is adapted to all the terroirs of Armagnac. La Folle Blanche is the best known. It was the historic vineyard of Armagnac that dominated the vineyard before the phylloxera destroyed it in 1878, it was then called "piquepoult". Today, on rootstock, its cultivation is more difficult and it is not represented. La Folle Blanche produces fine eaux-de-vie, often floral and of great elegance, which are particularly valued in Blanche or in the young Armagnac. The Baco (formerly called "Baco 22A") is an originality in the French wine landscape. It is a hybrid, son of the Folle Blanche and Noah invented by a teacher Landes, Mr. Baco following the phylloxera. It has been particularly adapted to the sands of the Lower Armagnac region, where it gives the brandy of roundness, sweetness and aromas of ripe fruit, especially after long aging. In addition to its organoleptic richness, Baco now has a weight advantage, it is a more robust grape variety, which therefore requires a lower use of phytosanitary treatments, which is why the profession has worked for it to be definitively registered In the specifications of the appellation (it was previously doomed to disappear in 2011), which was recorded in 2005 when the specifications of the Armagnac AOC were revised. The Colombard is today much used and valued in the vinification of the wines of Pays des Côtes de Gascogne. Its distillation is therefore confidential. Its fruity and spicy aromas are appreciated in assemblages. The Clairette de Gascogne, the white Jurançon, the Meslier Saint François or the white and rosé Mauzac are all ancient grape varietals, authorized in the decree but today they are represented only by a few hectares of vines.
A natural vinification : The grapes harvested in October are pressed, and the juice is fermented in a natural way without oenological product. The wine is generally acid and not very alcoholic. It thus has a good capacity to preserve all its freshness and aromas until distillation.
INAO, from the plot to the barrel : If the world's spirits have often become industrial products, Armagnac wants to strengthen Its place of brandy, inscribed in a terroir and uses, in a word, an AOC of the vine and the wine. This concern, coupled with INAO's * rewriting of the conditions of approval, has led the profession to think, negotiate, endorse and now enforce new rules for INAO's monitoring, control and approval of production. It is the identification of production tools (plots, stills and chai) which is the basis of this follow-up, each one is appraised according to a specification established in consultation with the profession. New accreditation conditions reinforce quality control. Armagnac comes from a vineyard plot that is specifically managed on a suitable soil. The fragmented identification of each farm details the plots destined for Armagnac. The Armagnac is distilled with a traditional still with artisan size. The identification of the stills shows that the capacity, number of trays ... are in conformity with the usages and the decree of naming. The Armagnac is raised in suitable cellars where the conditions of aging (quality of the oak wood, capacity of the containers, building, ventilation ...) are attested by the identification of the cellars. Armagnac is controlled qualitatively the first year of breeding in order to remove brandy that would not deserve the appellation. This is the INAO Product Control. Everyone is convinced that these controls are not alone sales arguments, but they reinforce the seriousness of the profession, the traceability of production and eventually the quality of the Armagnacs. Origin and Quality.
* INAO : National Institute of Origin and Quality.
NB : note that unlike the appellations wines, Armagnac has not passed AOP (Protected Designation of Origin) which does not apply, for the moment, to the spirits. Armagnac remains an AOC.