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July 28, 2007

Chateau Laubade (Bas-Armagnac) - July 20th - 21st, 2007


Chateau de Laubade is the benchmark for Armagnacs. The leader of the luxury French domestic market. Laubade has won a staggering 40 medals in the Paris and Eauze tasting competition.

Refined and rich in aromatic nuances, an almost perfect balance, magnificent amber colour, you are very close to perfection.

The XO, is a blend of very fine, subtle and elegant spirits, some of which are more than 20 years old. The resulting armagnac is rounded and deep.

Vintage wine is the pride and joy of the Armagnac appellation, and in particular of Château de Laubade, one of the great specialists. In Armagnac all of the vintage wines are identified and authenticated. They are produced with 100% of the year’s harvest. At Château de Laubade, vintage wines are bottled as and when they are needed. The bottling date is marked on the back-label to guarantee the true maturing time in the barrels. The vintage bottles are waxed and presented in magnificent ash wood cases.

 Right: Monsieur Saigne, winemaker

Chateau Laubade Salon where we tasted fantastic Armagnacs: VSOP, XO, 1978, 1948 and 1924 among others.

 "La porte du Paradis" ("Door to the paradise") leading to the chais.

 

 

 The beautiful alambic of Chateau Laubade

 Detail on the Alambic

 

Chateau Laubade also produces Floc de Gastogne, equivalent to the Pineau des Charentes in Cognac.

Laubade Floc de Gascogne blanc is 17% and a light yellow gold. Quite sharp and fruity, it has tones of pineapple and hints of pine sap, making it very interesting, refreshing and complex.

Appelltion Floc de Gascogne contrôllée is a style of lightly fortified sweet / tart wine usually served in France chilled, without ice, in a wine glass as an aperitif. It also goes well with foie gras, dessert and chocolates. Floc de Gascogne is meant to be drunk immediately and should be enjoyed within a year or less of of the production. The date of bottling is usually hidden in very small type on the bottom of the back label.

Floc de Gascogne is made from traditional Gascony recipes originating in the 16th century by combining 1/3 fresh, unfermented grape must (juice) with 2/3 of the finest Armagnac. The grapes are grown in Gascony vineyards located in Gers and a few parishes in Lot-et-Garonne and Landes of South West France. The Armagnac must be made from grapes grown, distilled, and aged in the same winery as the unfermented must. After blending, the wine is then stored in barrels for at least ten months for aging.

 View from my bedroom

 View of the Chateau Laubade property looking westward. The property includes the brown meadow in the far.

This sandy and silty soil produces fruity, light, delicate and highly praised eau-de-vie

 The chateau through the vines lies on the top of the property.

  Ocean of  vines.

 View southward.

THE GRAPES

 Baco Noir
Baco Noir is an hybrid. It results from the crossing made with the Vitis Vinifera "Folle Blanche" and the Vitis Riparia " Grand Glabre" created in 1902 by Francois Baco, famous French bybrid maker, who gave it his name. Its strength is incredible and it must be cut very severely to decrease its productivity. It is not very sensitive ti fungus diseases and tends to ripen late.
Tasting: Baco noir produces a medium body, deeply tinted, acidic red wine which is fruit forward and often carries aromas of black fruits and caramel.

 Folle Blanche
Folle Blanche was a foundation grape for Armagnac in the past but has lost ground to the earlier maturing Ugni Blanc. It is also known as Picpoul, although it is in fact unrelated to the Picpoul of the Languedoc) as well as Gros Plant and Enrageat blanc.. Folle Blanche is grown in small plantings in California, Spain and even Uruguay.
Tasting: Distilled alone, Folle Blanche is fine, elegant and very complex, as Bacco, on the other hand, is rich and opulent.

 Colombard
First used to make Cognac and Armagnac although not as popular for that purpose as Ugni Blanc and Baco. The Colombard has a high natual acidity making it a good choice for blends. If given the proper treatment Colombard can produce crisp whites with citrus fruits and a pleasant minerality.
The best Colombards come from the south of France where it is sold as the VDP Côtes de Gascogne. It is also an important varietal in South Africa though decreasingly so.

 Ugni Blanc
The Ugni Blanc, also known as Trebbiano, is planted in France, Italy and Australia and is used for making wines as well as brandy. Its wines are usually dry and high in acidity.

FACTS

- The Armagnac region lies between the Adour and Garonne rivers in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
- Armagnac was granted AOC status in 1936.
- Armagnac production is overseen by a Bureau National Interprofessionel de l'Armagnac (BNIA).
- Armagnac production is significantly lower than that of the Cognac region; for every six bottles of Armagnac sold around the world there are one hundred bottles of cognac sold.
- Armagnac has been making brandy for around 200 years longer than Cognac.
- Bas-Armagnac is the most famous area of production of the Armagnac AOC. With its capital city Eauze, it extends over the Landes and Gers departments.
- Health Benefits: research has suggested that Armagnac has health enhancing qualities. For example, those living in Gascony, the area of France wherein Armagnac is made, tend to live around five years longer than the average in France. Experiments have suggested that a modest dose of Armagnac each day could also reduce the likelihood of heart disease. Some speculate that Armagnac's health benefits relate to its unique distillation process and aging.

Raphael Knapp