Armagnac: Pairs

Simply three little duos of Armagnac today, with all but one coming from the celebrated L’Encantada.

L’Encantada Lous Pibous 2005 15YO #193 (57,3%): You know that Lous Pibous means Folle Blanche and Virgin Oak, right!? Nose: Relatively dry, muddy and woody. It kinda tries to hide as much as possible. Later plums, oranges and orange zest, cloves, Gewürztraminer, humid wood, tobacco and jostaberry. It is good, but a little bit too shy for my liking. Just come out and play, young fella! Palate: The exact opposite. It comes with a straightforward attack, featuring oranges, almonds, the jostaberries again, wood, caramel or caramel sauce, toffee and a whiff of ginger. It reminds me a bit of a few old Cognacs, just that it is much more intense and less elegant. That’s new territory for us. Finish: Long with oranges, ginger, wood and lavender or violets. Very good stuff that will have its fans, even though it doesn’t have a lot in common with 1990s Lous Pibous. (88/100)

L’Encantada Lous Pibous 1993 27YO #123 (53%): We’ve already had one of these 1993s. Nose: Very heavy, “dark” and woody. The cask was very active here. It does have this some acidic note that we’ve also found in #13 of the vintage, reminding us of balsamico vinegar. Later Butterscotch, thick caramel, more wood, some glue and fir cones. The caramel is nice! Palate: More of that caramel and fir combination, added to vinegar, pickles, wood, chestnuts and tobacco. Also cinnamon, wheat, even more wood, burnt sugar and old furniture. Finish: Long with wood, dry caramel, fir, pear and wheat. We surely understand why the Bourbon folks are all over this stuff, after all this is a much, much better version of old Bourbon. But also a style that is a bit special within the world of Yak – and our faves seem to be elsewhere. (86/100)

On with Artigaux, a completely new Domaine for us.

L’Encantada Artigaux 2012 8YO #6 (45,5%): Colombard and Ugni Blanc. Nose: Not only the Domaine is new to us, the profile is so as well! We get a combination of vanilla, pears, apples, Cider, pickles, rose water, peach and clearly vanilla yoghurt. Weird stuff, but not bad. Palate: Vanilla yoghurt with peaches is by far my most obvious association here. Then pears and pear juice, a certain woody dryness despite this very fruity profile and an idea of chives or green onions towards the finish. Very cool! Finish: Longer than you might think and basically an extension of the palate. An extraordinary mix of dry and fruity. This is a very fun one, reminding us quite a bit of Aurensan (which we have yet to review as well…). I wonder what the older expression will taste like. (84/100)

L’Encantada Artigaux 1999 21YO #10 (48,9%): Nose: Similar to the 2012. Vanilla yoghurt, peach and pears are still there, as are mango lassi, oak, cinnamon and apple crumble. Not only is it very good, it is also right up our alley. Palate: It starts with a ripe continental fruit basket, vanilla yoghurt, cinnamon, peaches and mango chunks, oak, oat and appes perhaps. There really isn’t much to complain about here: The texture is creamy, the alcohol is integrated well, the profile is very balanced and the intensity is ample sufficient. Finish: Yoghurt, peaches, vanilla, oak and passion fruit stay around for quite a while. All in all, it is more or less just a slightly better version of the 2012 in our book though. (86/100)

That was surprisingly good. And different. Let’s move over to an old favorite of ours!

Grape of the Art Le Frêche 2007 13YO (57%): Grape of the Art is a new bottler in the game, founded by buddies of ours so my expectations are naturally quite high. I don’t think we are biased in any way though. Nose: Lots of glue, hazelnut, wood, a mix of salty and buttered popcorn, hot butter, nutmeg and a few maritime notes. Quite Albionesque if you want (that’s a good thing, in case you missed that!). Palate: Relatively complex, smooth and still easy to drink for such a “young” cask strength Armagnac. We start with the combination of hazelnut and salted popcorn again, add some good and fruity Sauvignon Blanc with slate and mineral notes, a whiff of caramel and vanilla, oak and a mix of spices. With the second and third sip also oat, barley, almonds and cocoa. Quite nice! Closer to Whiskey (still not sure if Malt or Rye) than to Rum now. Finish: Medium long with cocoa, spices, oak and oat. That was a nice progression and a very good debut. I especially digged the excellent nose. (87/100)

L’Encatanda Le Frêche 1980 40YO #39 (41,5%): A 40YO Le Frêche – what could go wrong!? Nose: More alcoholic than we expected with some glue, dry red wine from Bordeaux, quite a few tannins and Rancio, oak, dates, plums and other related stone fruits and later a wall of spices including cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg or pepper. After a good 30 minutes we also find fresher fruits such as ripe apples and pears. Palate: A little too thin for my liking. Vinegar made from apples and pears brings a slightly acidic note, before we get to that spice and oak section again. Tannins, raisins, a whiff of wood glue, pomace, more apples, lemon bitters and sour coconut chips are other impressions. The finish continues along these lines, but doesn’t last extremely long, besides that tea-like bitter note. This is a difficult one to handle. There are many things I like about it, but it also has quite a few weird spots. I mean, it is good, but not as amazing as the other Le Frêche bottlings we know. (81/100)

I was planning to have another duo at this point point let’s just call it a night. After having only good to very good (i.e. 80+ points) Armagnacs we should simply stop. However, we shall continue another day. After all, there’s still plenty of Yak in our library, good and “bad” (read: below average).