Tuesday, March 12, 2013

More From Chateau du Tariquet: Les Domaine Grassa and Cask Strength Armagnacs

A few weeks ago I tasted the XO and blanche Armagnacs from Chateau du Tariquet. I liked them but mentioned that it would be interesting to try the cask strength expressions. Well, Chateau du Tariquet heard my cries and sent me samples of a number of additional samples including three cask strength samples. (Hmm, why doesn't it work this way with whiskey. Have I mentioned how "interested" I would be to try the Balvenie 50?) In any case, here they are:

First the non-cask strength offering,

Chateau du Tariquet Les Domaines Grassa, 40% abv ($36)

This brandy is made from 60% ugni blanc and 40% baco grapes. The youngest brandy in the vatting is four years old.

The nose on this one reminds me of malt whiskey, a fruity, floral malt, but very malty. The palate retains some of those malty characteristics with fruit only around the edges. It's dry throughout and just a tad spicy in the finish. Very pleasant stuff, certainly worth trying and a good deal for the price.

Now the cask strength line (keep in mind that single distilled Armagnac has a much lower cask strength than whiskeys do). All of these are made from 100% folle blanche grapes, and they come in at 8, 12 and 15 years old. It is nice to see both cask strength expressions and age statements on French brandies as both are rare.

Chateau du Tariquet 8 year old, 51.1% abv ($43)

The nose has an almost Canadian Whisky like quality to it, with oak and a touch of medicinal sweetness. The palate has similar qualities, sweet medicine. It really is very Canadian tasting, so much so that if I had tasted blind, I might have identified this as a Canadian Whiskey (albeit one of the better ones, like Forty Creek). The finish has a short burst of fruit followed by candy sweetness.

Chateau du Tariquet 12 year old, 48.5% abv ($50)

The nose on this is light and spicy. The palate has some nice spice and ends with pepper and just a touch of melon. The spice lasts into the finish.

Chateau du Tariquet 15 year old, 46.8% abv ($56)

The nose is spicy with white wine notes. The palate is fruity with some of those malty notes I got in the Les Domaine Grassa. The finish is malty and just a tad bitter.

While all of these Armagnacs were pleasant and none was offensive, I found them all to be fairly one dimensional. There is just not that much going on in each expression. They are less spicy than many Armagnacs I've had and tend to take on a more whiskey type characteristic in chameleon like fashion, but they lack any complexity like so much Glenmorangie 10. Perhaps that is a result of the 100% folle blanche composition. The 8 year old was my least favorite, but I'm not a huge Canadian Whisky fan. I may have preferred the Les Domaines Grassa, at a lowly 80 proof, to the cask strength offerings. It had a nice malty character and would be good to sip on a warm summer day.

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