Monday, January 7, 2013

Chateau de Pellehaut Armagnac

Our first week of brandy tastings for this series will be dedicated to Armagnac. As I discussed last week, most Cognac producers are essentially blenders who buy brandy on contract with small grower/distillers. In Armagnac, it is a bit easier to find grower/distillers, and one of the larger ones, though still small by Cognac standards, is Chateau de Pellehaut.

Chateau de Pellehaut is in the Tenareze region of Armagnac which is between the regions of Bas-Armagnac and Haut-Armagnac. Tenareze brandies are considered more rustic and less approachable than those from the more popular Bas-Armagnac region.

Today I'll be tasting one of their standard offerings, the Reserve, and two special bottlings from K&L, a 1987 and a 1973. The 1973 demonstrates some of the value of brandy as compared to whiskey that I've mentioned in the past...try finding a 39 year old whiskey for $130.

Pellehaut's more recent vintages are made from the folle blange grape, and the Reserve is made from both ugni blanc and folle blange, but the 1973 is 90% ugni blanc.

Chateau de Pellehaut Reserve, 42% abv, ($50)

The nose has nicely balanced elements of fruit, wood and spice. The palate starts sweet and then develops a nice tang which goes on to dominate the finish. It's very drinkable.

Chateau de Pellehaut 1987, K&L Selection, 49% abv ($80)

The nose is dry and spicy with just a touch of fruit. The fruit comes in strong on the palate, followed by wood and spice which last into the finish. This is a powerfully flavorful and well balanced brandy.

Chateau de Pellehaut 1973, K&L Selection, 43% abv ($130)

The nose mildly spicy; there's also some honey and mild fruit. The palate has a nice spicy fruit flavor, almost like a mulled cider with cloves lasting into the finish which also had a sandalwood note. There's a similarity to some of the better Canadian whiskies with their balance of rye and fruit.

In comparing these, you can definitely tell they are from the same family; the interplay between fruit and spice is a common motif. The Reserve is an easy drinker, the 1973 is nicely balanced, but I'd say the winner here in the 1987 with its strong notes of both fruit and spice in perfect balance.

By the way, if you haven't been reading the comments on the posts introducing last week's brandy series, you should check them out. There is tons of helpful information from knowledgeable commenters, including some who are in the industry. Clearly, there is a thirst for knowledge and discussion of brandy.


Florin said...

Sku, I don't know how many bottles of the 1987 Pellehaut did K&L have this morning, but 5 hours after you published your review they were none - I wasn't able to get one. So, if you wanted further proof that your opinion counts, there you have it!

Matt L said...

There were 4 bottles last night, 2 when I looked this morning, none by about 11:15. It is a great bottle of booze!

Matt L said...

That's 11:15 am.

BMc said...

Considering these developments, should you be disclosing whether you're getting these for free? Some bloggers are very open and up-front when they do.

sku said...

BMc, I ALWAYS disclose when I get something for free. The fact is, it happens very rarely. For these three, I purchased two of the bottles and got a sample of the third from a friend.

amanda garnham said...

Thank you for reviewing Armagnac. Very happy to send you samples for review but need your address and tel.

Matt L said...

I am obsessed with the 1987. I got a bottle of the Camut 12 year old Calvados today, and while its great, and unique and delicious, I like this 1987 Pellehaut Armagnac better. It's so balanced and interesting. Powerfully flavorful is right Sku. David Driscoll at K&L says there's more of it on the way, which is great news. It may take a while though, as they have to ship it from France. Keep an eye out for it on K&L's website, you will not regret getting a bottle of this Armagnac. (By the way, this is the first bottle of Armagnac I've ever owned and the first time I've ever tasted Armagnac. I usually drink bourbon/rye.)