Manufacturing - Breeding and aging

On this page, we invite you to better know the breeding and aging of brandy, which will help you in your approach to Armagnac.

The time of aging

Once the eau-de-vie has sprung from the still, the long process of aging begins, this time which is also nicely called aging. But before the wooding of the white alcohol begins, the cellar master has done some preparatory work, that of choosing his barrels, that of choosing his cooper. This is anything but anecdotal. The Armagnacais works with French oak and, more and more often, with Gascon oak. Some go even further: they deliver oak trees from their own property to their cooper. Trees planted by the grandfather or the great-grandfather, with whom they played as children. We are there, beyond the symbol, in a desire to favor the terroir, even in the choice of wood grown on site. As for the coopers, each Armagnacais has his own preference and does not hesitate to obtain supplies from several cask creators.

The setting under wood

The barreling therefore takes place as soon as it comes out of the still. In “rooms” of 400 liters. Most of the time, the cellar master chooses to entrust his eau-de-vie to a new barrel. These casks, or barrels, are stored in cellars where the temperature and humidity undergo little variation during the year. Then the breeding begins. Long years of work, constant “listening” to the Armagnac people who will monitor the evolution of their eaux-de-vie. A relationship of a certain sensuality is established between the cellar master and his Armagnacs. The latter remains on the alert, attentive to each sign that this Armagnac will send him over the years, to better adapt, even anticipate his choices as a breeder.

Precise work

What elements does the cellar master monitor in particular? First, he takes a very careful look at the extraction of tannic and aromatic compounds from the piece of wood. In a more poetic way, it engages a lasting relationship with "the angels' share", this evaporation of part of the eau-de-vie and the reduction of the alcoholic degree (about 1/2 degree per year). Another point to which the cellar master is particularly attentive: the development of aromas. This comes directly from oak wood and wine through a slow oxidation of Armagnac in contact with oxygen in the air through the barrel.

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Maison de l'Armagnac - Élevage et Vieillissement