Thursday, December 10, 2015
Armagnacs: Jean-Bon & Manohum
Around the holidays, I always struggle to find great spirits that are actually on the shelves and won't cost a fortune. For the past few months, K&L has had some great Armagnacs that seem to be flying under the radar, so there are plenty on the shelf. They are a series of brandies from Domaine de Jean-Bon and Domaine de Maouhum. Both are small producers located in the Bas Armagnac that use Baco grapes.
Domaine de Maouhum 1987, 28 yo, 46% abv ($73)
The nose is woody with some bourbony caramel and lots of oak. The palate has a nice acidic fruit note, like slightly sour grapes. Going out it has a chewy mouthfeel. The finish is heavy on the menthol with some earthy, spicy notes. TThe finish was a bit too heavy on the menthol but otherwise, a great brandy.
Domaine de Maouhum 1983, 42% abv ($100)
The nose is dry and spicy with ginger. The palate is spiced cider or mulled wine. It comes on sweet with cinnamon, ginger, clove and lemon. On the palate, the dry, spiciness of the nose returns along with oak and menthol notes. This is very nice and very balanced.
Domaine de Jean-Bon 1990, 25 yo, 45% abv ($80)
The nose is oaky with some light fruit. The palate is sweet and fruity with just a touch of spice toward the end which leads into a spicy finish. This is fun, really drinkable stuff, sweet, fruity and delicious.
Domaine de Jean-Bon 1987, 28 yo, Bas-Armagnac, Baco, 45% ($100)
The nose has huge oak notes along with bourbon and red wine. The palate opens sweet with cane sugar syrup then develops fruit notes with a bit more acid, then some juniper. The finish has light fruit notes with some wood on the palate. It's interesting that the nose can be so intensely woody while the palate retains so much sweetness.
Domaine de Jean-Bon 1979, 36 yo, 45% abv ($130)
This is another heavily oaky nose, this time even more so and with less fruit. The palate is oaky with a light sweetness and a dry, ashy mouthfeel, like an old red wine. Toward the end, some fruit notes emerge and the finish has a fruity nose and some spice on the palate. Going through these three, you can really see the interplay of oak and fruit over time. The 1990 was fruit forward, the 1979 dry an oaky, and the 1987 is a perfect balance of the two.
These were all very good. The Maouhums are spicier and the Jean-Bons are fruitier. As usual with Armagnac, these are fantastic deals, and they are there for the taking. In addition to these, K&L brought in a Maouhum XO for $50 and a number of other Jean-Bons, including a 1974 ($140), a 1995 ($60) and a 1999 ($50).
Disclaimer: I purchased the 1987s (which sparked my interest in these); the others were samples provided by K&L.