Armagnac and wine spirits

Armagnac is in South West France. The three main vinestocks used for armagnac are as for cognac, with Ugni blanc again being preferred on account of a reduced risk of rot as it comes to maturity rapidly. The wines must be distilled in the Appellation area, with the maximum content of distilled alcohol allowed being 72% ABV. Again, the use of sulphur dioxide is forbidden.

Two types of still are used: the continuous Armagnac still and two-stage pot stills. Continuous armagnac stills are fabricated from copper and are operated as described by Bertrand (2003a). Operational variables are the rate of wine flow and the heating regimen. Heating is always by open fire, although nowadays it will probably be fuelled by propane gas rather than by wood. Just as for whisky, the three components emerging from a still are heads, body and tailings.

The two-stage pot still is comparable with that used for cognac.

Wine spirits are usually aged in oak casks. Coarse-grained wood is preferred because more oxygen can then enter to polymerise tannins. Oxygen ingress is also important for the oxidation of some of the alcohol to acetic acid, which in turn reacts with alcohol to generate flavoursome esters during ageing. A comparison of the key analytical parameters for armagnac, cognac and brandy is given in Table 6.3.

Table 6.3 An analytical comparison of wine spirits.

Parameter

Cognac

Armagnac

Brandy

Alcohol (%ABV)

40.04

41.4

45.46

Total acidity (as acetic acid)

103.6

153.9

31.46

Volatile acidity (as acetic acid)

59.3

106.5

19.06

Aldehydes

19.3

23.3

25.33

Esters

72.9

109.6

54.8

Higher alcohols

444.4

441.4

258.4

Total volatile substances

632

682.1

357.5

Based on Bertrand (2003b). Apart from alcohol, units are g h L 1

Based on Bertrand (2003b). Apart from alcohol, units are g h L 1

Expert blending is performed and the alcohol concentration lowered to a minimum of 40% by the addition of distilled water. Caramel may be added to enhance colour. The product is held at -5°C for 1 week prior to filtration through cellulose.

Brandy is obtained from wine spirits blended or not with wine distillates distilled to less than 94.8% ABV, such distillates not exceeding 50 proof maximum in the final product. The product is aged in oak for more than 1 year, unless the casks hold less than 1000 L in which case ageing must be for a minimum of 6 months. According to Bertrand (2003), the making of brandy is an opportunity to salvage defective wines or deal with production surpluses, although top quality brandies may be made from wine specifically produced for the purpose. Brandies must be >37.5% ABV.

Brew Your Own Beer

Brew Your Own Beer

Discover How To Become Your Own Brew Master, With Brew Your Own Beer. It takes more than a recipe to make a great beer. Just using the right ingredients doesn't mean your beer will taste like it was meant to. Most of the time it’s the way a beer is made and served that makes it either an exceptional beer or one that gets dumped into the nearest flower pot.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment