Thursday, January 10, 2013
To wrap up our week of Armagnac, we'll be tasting a 1998 brandy. Brandy importer/bottler Nicolas Palazzi was kind enough to send me a sample of his Domaine D'Esperance single barrel 1998 Armagnac. Domaine D'Espearance is a very small grower (10 hectares) in the Bas-Armagnac region. Palazzi imports a number of expressions, including a five year old and a ten year old, as well as a number of single casks. They contain no coloring or additives.
The 1998 vintage is made from 100% baco grapes and aged in Gascony oak casks (which tend to have a high tannin content).
Domaine D'Esperance 1998, 14 years old, Barrel 69, 49% abv ($90)
This one smells like bourbon. In fact, if I were nosing it blind, I would likely mistake it for a high rye bourbon and a very good one at that It's got lots of oak, spice and even some of that corn sweetness. The palate reveals its true nature, a dry, spicy brandy with cloves and then pepper. The finish lingers nicely, emphasizing the spice and, for the first time, the underlying wine, and the notes blend together like a mulled wine.
Dry and complex, this Armagnac might be challenging for some who need some sweetness, but I thought it was delightful. If you're ready for the next level, check it out. Right now it's only available in the east, but I'm told there are a few bottles that should be headed into California.
Next week I'll move out of Armagnac to try some Cognac and a Spanish brandy.