Amanda Garnham from Armagnac’s generic body, the BNIA, presented a full day’s tuition. Shereports the academy was well attended by professionals from the world of drinks, including sommeliers, importers, merchants and some journalists.
Garnham covered all aspects of Armagnac including its 700-year-long history, the facts and figures, the rules and regulations, the production, the distillation and the ageing.
Nine armagnac houses participated with a line-up of eaux-de-vie to show the diversity to be found within the category. The candidates started by tasting eaux-de-vie straight from the alambic from four grape varieties out of the 10 permitted in the Armagnac AOC. Other tastings included a comparison of VSOPs, XOs, 15-year-olds, several vintages and Blanche Armagnac.
The class was shown soil samples from the three regions to illustrate the diversification enabling them to understand why the grapes perform differently on each soil. They could even smell and touch new and used stave wood from the Gascon oak used to age Armagnac.
At the end of the day, the exam started with 100 multiple choice questions in the four categories of: basics, grapes and vinification, distillation and ageing got underway.
Garnham reports the results were outstanding with many distinctions (<90) and the rest were all credits (71-90). The levels are as follows: Pass: 50-70, Credit: 71-90, Distinction: <90.