Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Armagnac Report: Chateau de la Grangerie
K&L recently introduced a trio of private barrel Armagnacs from Chateau de la Grangerie, a small producer in the Tenareze region. All of them are distilled entirely from Ugni Blanc grapes.
First a warning, these need air. When I tasted them fresh out of the bottle, they had a lot of bitterness. Five minutes in the glass made most of that dissipate, and the following notes reflect tastings after that five minute period, so pour and wait. I'd even be tempted to decant these.
2001 Chateau de la Grangerie, 13 years old, 45% abv ($50)
The nose is dry and spicy with wood spice and just a hint of fruit. The palate is dry with faint grape notes which develop into a deeply earthy palate and a long, earthy finish, just bordering on too bitter, with bay leaves on the nose...like strolling through a damp forest after the rain. This one is bold, complex and earthy.
1994 Chateau de la Grangerie, 20 years old, 45.5% abv ($65)
The nose has mild, fruit juice flavors. The palate is dry and earthy but those notes are fleeting. The finish has a strong menthol note. This one feels a bit undeveloped; the flavors on the palate aren't particularly strong, it seems watered down and the strong menthol note on the finish puts it out of balance.
1964 Chateau de la Grangerie, 50 years old, 44% abv ($150)
The nose on this is just fantastic with honey and orange rind, even some sherry. The palate opens with lightly sweetened tea, then spicy black pepper notes. It turns dry, earthy and chewy just as it transitions to the finish which has pleasant dry fruit note, think apricots and red grapes, but without the sweetness.
These are really bold, earthy Armagancs. The 2001 was my favorite. It was complex and earthy, with layers of flavor that made me keep wanting to take another sip. At $50, it's a steal. The 1964 is probably more of a people pleaser as it had a more traditional brandy flavor profile. It's very good, and it's certainly reasonably priced at $150 for a 50 year old (When was the last time you could pay $150 for 50 year old anything?). Overall, though, I thought the 2001 was more interesting and had more complexity. Compared to these two great Armagnacs, the 1994 seems out of place. The palate had weak, diluted flavors, and the only real distinctive notes came in the menthol on the finish which was way out of balance. But hey, two out of three ain't bad.