14 August, 2012

“New York City is a pretty darn good place to get inside of some armagnac. It’s a drinky town in general, with a real pipeline to the Old World. Therefore, there’s crazy things like armagnac and cognac around. Chances would be slimmer that I would’ve even run into this stuff had I not moved to NYC.”


Aurélie Desombre of Ryst-Dupeyron Armagnac says: “In our opinion there are two markets. One is to consider armagnac as a ‘sub-cognac’ – cheaper and of low quality. This is not our market. Another market is a niche market for people who consider armagnac better than cognac, as an alternative. It is a super-premium product, not very expensive and an undiscovered treasure. This second market may become very big in Asia. We work to be in this market.”

“Sales of armagnac in Asia are increasing. There might not be enough cognac and some big cognac company are now investing hard in Asia for armagnac. There is a real market based on the authentic story of the armagnac and the vintages,” she says.

“The biggest problem is to have product better known by the customers. The big companies are now investing in TV and newspaper advertising and that will help all the brands,” says Desombre.

Philippe Gelas of Gelas Armagnac says: “The spirits market represent more or less 15 billion bottles a year and armagnac is 0.3%. So, ‘no comment’ in term of quantity but in terms of high quality, niche armagnac should remain at the top level. The problem is most of people do not know about armagnac.

“It is getting better and better, above all in Asia where spirits are more often used as a gift and premium products such as armagnacs have a real opportunity,” says Gelas.

Last year Gelas introduced a single-cask armagnac, aged in Jurançon and Pacherenc oak barrels. He tells DI that he is also looking at a VS premium in a decanter to propose an inexpensive and attractive product for cocktails. Also four more single casks with Emilo Lustau oloroso (sherry), Porto Barros (port), Bordeaux Cadillac Château Fayau and Austrian sweet auslese.

Château de Laubade claims to be the premier estate in Armagnac (the biggest vineyard dedicated to armagnac only). Denis Lesgourgues says: “Also, we can count on the most significant inventory of super and ultra-premium eaux-de-vie, both blends and vintages. The fact that we are able to be a key player in almost all the segments of the category is a major strength.

“Our priority is to strengthen our position of the worldwide armagnac leader in value, not in volume, by being able to continue to offer the best quality through our quest of excellence,” says Lesgourgues.

Lesgourgues adds that the chateau has been looking at improving quality and has moved its youngest Bas Armagnac up from 12 to 15 year old (XO minimum is eight year old). Older eaux de vies in the XO have also moved up five years to 25 year old.

Janneau is the giant in Armagnac and the company’s Fabio Giovinetti claims: “Armagnac is the next hot category in aged spirits. With a 20% increase in export in 2011, it is set to grow, albeit on a quality level, stock permitting, just like the single malts. Quality, aged stocks: priority is a careful drive towards further premiumisation.”

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