Pleasure Wine: Armagnac


Discover the grandeur of Armagnac


Officially the oldest French eau de vie, Armagnac was first produced in 1310. The Prior of Eauze, Master Vital Dufour, wrote about it in 1441, in one of his manuscripts. The "Aygue Ardente" (from the Latin "Aqua Ardente", or "Burning Water" in English), as it was then called in France, was used as a remedy and a disinfectant. Its popularity was such that production started booming, especially after the importation of the Spanish alembic.

During the 17th century, Bordeaux winemakers (whose city still belonged to the British) were protected by a text known as the "Bordeaux Privilege". This law, enforced until 1776, forbade the sale of wine coming from any other French region. Logically, since the sale of wine was restricted, merchants switched to the eau de vie business. This brought fame to drinks like Cognac and Armagnac, all over Europe. Slowly, Armagnac (whose name actually comes from "Arminius", one of Clovis’ companions) went from an alcohol used to strengthen the wine, to a bonafide drink and a flagstone of the Aquitaine cultural landscape.

In the 1730’s, distillers realized that wine barrels could be used for aging Armagnac, making it even better. In the 18th century, they also expanded their operations and the eau de vie was sold in the United-States for the first time. The official AOC Armagnac was born in 1936, but its delimited area of production was mapped in 1909. First sold in small barrels, it was then offered in bottles as well, to satisfy growing customers’ demands. Today, one bottle of Armagnac is sold every 3 seconds in the world.

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