I like my eau-de-vie so good that it performs miracles. Let me explain. Loosely translated “water of life”, eau-de-vie comes in many forms. The Italian version is grappa [prune grappa my favourite]. My favourite French version – Armagnac.
Armagnac is the oldest of brandies – more complex than Cognac if you ask me. Armagnac warms me right in the middle of my soul [well maybe just my chest]. Recently I was sent a sample of a 12 yr old Grand Assemblage from the Darroze family. This is what they have to say about it …
After 10 years in contact with the oak, Armagnac starts to take on the aromas of ageing. The fruit that is still present, is accompanied by the first aromas of soft spices such as liquorice and cinnamon. Still quite fiery, this eau de vie will become more complex after a few minutes breathing in your glass.
In the 14th century, Prior Vital Du Four, a Cardinal, claimed it had 40 virtues:
It makes disappear redness and burning of the eyes, and stops them from tearing; it cures hepatitis, sober consumption adhering. It cures gout, cankers, and fistula by ingestion; restores the paralysed member by massage; and heals wounds of the skin by application. It enlivens the spirit, partaken in moderation, recalls the past to memory, renders men joyous, preserves youth and retards senility. And when retained in the mouth, it loosens the tongue and emboldens the wit, if someone timid from time to time himself permits.
Who am I to argue with a Cardinal? Also, a little emboldening of the wit never hurt me.
Most controversially, the traditional French gourmet dish ortolan has traditionally been prepared by force-feeding an Ortolan [wee bird] before drowning it in Armagnac and roasting it. The dish is now legally prohibited due to laws protecting the bird but I am certain the tradition continues. The French don’t take “Non” for an answer when it comes to food.
Armagnac can be found in your Cognac and Brandy section – but you may need to ask your LCBO or Vintages consultant to bring some in for you if there isn’t any there [yes they do that]. I was pleased to discover that one of my Vintages consultants, Sarah, also loves Armagnac and is planning to bring in another one next September. Just in time to warm my soul.
Oh, and how cool is this sample? Science meets eau-de vie. Merci and Danke