It is no secret that cognac, which has become one of the main alcoholic attractions in France, has long been featured in the list of popular spirits. But few people know that the French themselves prefer the armagnac undeservedly in the shadows to the promoted cognac. I think that the long-term director of the company producing Armagnac De Montal, Philippe Leyus-Couste, who has recently become a guest of the Noble Wine gallery, will tell our readers the best about this drink.

We started our conversation with Philip all the same with cognac, but with only one goal – to quickly switch to his eternal rival.

Арманьяк De Montal можно купить в винном магазине Noble Wine.

Philip, do you drink cognac yourself, or is it taboo for you?

– Why not? I can drink cognac with friends or taste it on any trip.

You, of course, know that the long-standing confrontation between Armagnac and cognac is as old as these spirits have existed. What is their difference?

– Of course, their main difference is in the methods of distillation. In the manufacture of Armagnac, a single distillation is used, and cognac is made by a double distillation method. But these technological processes are of interest to specialists. For buyers and lovers of spirits, the difference can be said as follows. Armagnac is a more masculine, stronger and more brutal drink, while cognac is more elegant, soft, feminine. This is reflected in the region where Armagnac is produced. The Gascons, the most famous of whom is D’Artagnan, are brave people who are ready to die for their friends. Cognac is more associated with the bourgeois, who prefer a sofa to adventure.


Дартаньян - символ производителя Арманьяка De Montal

Yes, yes, I know that the theme of “The Three Musketeers” by Alexandre Dumas is actively used in promoting the De Montal Armagnac. Whose idea is this?

– No matter how immodest it may sound, but this is really my idea. It was a sin not to use such eminent fellow countrymen for marketing purposes. We named our three copper distillation columns by names familiar to the whole world – Athos, Porthos and Aramis, and the statue of d’Artagnan is watching their work. Obviously, with the help of such big names of goodies, it is easier to draw the attention of potential buyers to our Armagnac.

I wonder how the Gascons are so different from the rest of the French?

– Best of all, this difference is characterized by our favorite saying: “Where no French ventures, the Gascon goes”, which in its meaning means: “Where the Frenchman does not take the risk, the Gascon will decide.”

And yet, how did it happen that cognac is better known all over the world than Armagnac?

– Yes, cognac has become a commercial product, and it did not happen yesterday. It’s just that the places of cognac production were closer to the ports, and this wine distillate was easier to export and deliver to consumers all over the world. Gascony is further away, and Armagnac is not as widely known as cognac. But, by the way, this medal has a second side. During the Second World War, during the occupation of France, the reserves of cognac were significantly cleaned up by its German connoisseurs, and the remaining cognacs of the pre-war years, due to the modest supply on the market, cost crazy money. Armagnac, on the other hand, was preserved in large quantities, and now lovers of vintage stamps can pamper themselves with Armagnac of the early 20th century at relatively affordable prices.

Имение De Montal где производят знаменитый Арманьяк. Как производят арманьяк? Чем Арманьяк отличается от коньяка?

De Montal estate where Armagnac is produced

Do you also use the fact that until today you have managed to preserve such vintage Armagnacs in wine cellars?

– Yes, another idea of ​​ours was to offer Armagnacs as a gift for a birthday or other date tied to the year. If we have a vintage Armagnac, produced, for example, in 1940, then why not drink it now for the 75th birthday party? I am sure he would be pleased to taste his peer.

Aren’t you offended that Armagnac is deprived of attention?

– Don’t tell me. Yes, the French gave the world cognac, but they themselves prefer Armagnac. What other recommendations do you need for this drink ?!

Wonderful! And what objective recommendations are you ready to give De Montal Armagnac?

– It is difficult to be objective when it comes to the brainchild, which has been given half of its life, but it is best to give the floor to the founder and owner of this brand, Olivier de Montal. He approaches the technology of making his signature Armagnac scrupulously and, of course, is not ready to share all the secrets, but partially opens the curtain: “Our requirements for De Montal Armagnac imply that the wine should be distilled early, from November to Christmas, despite the fact that the official date completion of distillation from other producers – January 31 of the year following the harvest. In addition, the grapes for our Armagnac are harvested at night. After distillation, the alcohol turns white and has an alcohol content of 52–72%. It is pressed with a pneumatic press, after which “neutral” yeast is added to the must, which does not give any specific aromas, in order to preserve the natural character of Armagnac. The fermentation temperature is kept low so that fermentation proceeds slowly and maximum aromas are extracted. Before distillation, the wine is aged on fine lees in completely filled vats. And all this together ultimately gives our product a special fruity-floral, incomparable aroma. ”

Philip, what would you recommend to the readers of Noble Wine magazine – in what situations and with what can you drink De Montal Armagnac?

– Armagnac, of course, is not for fast food lovers. Therefore, first and foremost, it should be drunk slowly, stretching the pleasure and getting the whole gamut of taste delights. Another beauty of Armagnac is that it can be drunk on many occasions, both at the beginning and at the end of a meal. And every gourmet will find the right moment – foie gras, Roquefort cheese, chocolate cake, coffee and not only go perfectly with our Armank. It all depends on the period of its aging, because over the years the taste of the drink changes, which means that the products combined with it also change.


A bit of history

Armagnac was born from a combination of three cultures: the Romans gave wine, the Arabs invented alambic (alambic is a special apparatus made of copper and designed for distilling alcohol), and the Celts brought in barrels. The first mention of Armagnac is the treatise “40 useful properties of Armagnac” by the physician and cardinal Vital Dufour, dated 1310, that is, it was written 150 years before the appearance of cognac. By the end of the 16th century, Armagnac was already on sale throughout France, and in the 18th century, the first export sales took place – to Germany from the port of Bordeaux. In 1760, he became the favorite brandy of Louis XV and his court.

An unmistakable birthday present

Perhaps the most difficult thing is to choose a gift for a person who “has everything”. And it is in this case that the Noble Wine wine gallery is ready to come to the rescue, where you can buy a very original gift in the form of De Montal Armagnac, produced in the same year as the hero of the occasion, which any birthday person will surely appreciate. It doesn’t matter if he was born in the 40s or 80s – you can find a bottle with the year of birth on the shelves of a wine gallery. For example, the most seasoned Armagnac of this brand, which exists in nature today, was produced in 1893. This, of course, is an indisputable rarity, preserved in single copies by the manufacturer himself.