La Maison & Velier is a French-Italian collaboration looking to bring an array of spirits into broader distribution, including whiskey and brandy. Today we look at the first five Armagnac bottlings from LM&V, all small production, single vintage, single cask offerings dating back to 1990 distillation dates. If you’ve heard of any of these producers before, you’re way ahead in the Armagnac game than I am. (There are more than 600 Armagnac producers in France, but only a very few officially bottle their spirits.)
Very limited quantities available (15 cases of each for the U.S.), so if something sounds up your alley, best to grab it now.
Version Francaise Domaine de Saoubis Armagnac 2007 – A hearty expression of Armagnac, heavy with raisin notes and lots of spice — ginger, then moving into cloves. The brandy gets more floral with time in glass, turning a bit rustic on the finish, with notes of clean linen and jasmine — and some bitterness to end the day. 92.2 proof. B+ / $133
Version Francaise Veuve Goudoulin Armagnac 2000 – An impressive coffee aroma gathers up some raisin notes alongside a quite drying clove note and a slight petrol touch. The palate is tough up top, rather bitter, with more of that petrol character meeting a bitter lemon peel character, finishing with lavender and unsweetened cocoa powder. Tannic and drying on the finish, it eventually fades out with notes of tea leaf. 96.6 proof. B / $116
Version Francaise Maison Fontan Armagnac 1998 – Sharp on the nose thanks to the high abv, and quite fruity, coming across as relatively youthful. Plenty of perfume and fresh linen can be found in the mix, giving it a fairly classic construction. Caramel and chocolate notes come to the fore on the palate, but it’s still biting with heat, the finish evoking notes of raspberry alongside a darker chocolate note, mixed baking spices, and a touch of clove on the very end. Easily my favorite in this lineup. 109.2 proof. A- / $115
Version Francaise Chateau de la Beroje 1995 – Slightly medicinal, but otherwise quite complex, with notes of dried flowers and oxidized wine giving this a slight Port-like quality. Soft on the palate, with cola and tea notes dominating, it then moves to traditional linen and clean laundry elements, and from there into a perfumed jasmine character. A clear maple/molasses quality builds with time in glass, the finish turning sharp and winey, with a grind of spicy pepper in the mix. 84 proof. B+ / $145
Version Francaise Domaine de Pouteou Armagnac 1990 – Aggressive on the nose, there’s a certain astringency here that comes across as a surprise after 32 years in barrel. Lightly medicinal, with overblown florals and plenty of oak influence. The palate finds a similar line, the perfume elements becoming rather soapy in short order. Spice and some brown sugar don’t hold a candle against a tannic, green-leaning finish. Dusky with incense notes, and very drying on the fade-out. 92.6 proof. B / $155