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 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.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for taking the time to post these brandy reviews. With so little information about them in existence, it's nice to get your perspective and insight on the current releases. These brandy posts seldom get much commentary, so I wanted to let you know that there are people out there that are reading and enjoying them.


sku said...

Thanks Todd. I really appreciate the feedback!

Unknown said...

I second what Todd said. There doesn't seem to many reviews for Armagnac in general on the web and reviews for K&L direct imports are even more scarce. It's great to read opinions from people outside of the company. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Sweet. Based on this review, I'm making the 2001 my first-ever bottle of Armagnac. Earthy sounds good for this guy.

-Ol' Jas

Florin said...

Thanks for the sample of the 1994 La Grangerie, Sku!
This is very good Armagnac. The nose is primarily the wood, bourbon-like, but the wood is not overwhelming. On the palate the dark wood flavors are nicely balanced by the sweetness of the spirit (very natural-tasting, not doctored, I should haste to say). The fruit is in mostly in the background, except for the tingling spiciness, lasting into the finish as well. Overall, it is easy drinking and not terribly complex or demanding. At $65 this is a very easy buy for a high-quality, well aged, well presented Armagnac.