Simon first came across Domaine d’Esperance and it’s wonderful Eaux de Vies in November 2017 when on a visit to the region with the Bureau National Interprofessionnel de l’Armagnac or BNIA for short!
Esperance has been owned and run by Comtesse Claire de Montesquiou and her husband Jean-Louis since 1990 when they purchased the 30 hectare property in Mauvezin d’Armagnac, between Bordeaux and Toulouse.
The vineyards are planted on the sandy soils of the Bas Armagnac which produce delicate and fruity Armagnacs with a soft silky mouthfeel. Just 7.5 hectares are used for the production of Armagnac, focusing on three of the ten permitted grape varieties – Folle Blanche, Ugni Blanc and Bacco 22A. The latter is a cross between Noah and Folle Blanche and Armagnac is the only AOC in France where it’s use is permitted.
Esperance doesn’t have its own still in situ. Instead the property is visited by one of the many travelling stills during the period of distillation. This generally starts towards the end of November after the new vintage has finished fermentaion, and must be finished by 31st March following the vintage. At Esperance they usually distill 20-30 barrels per year using an Alembic Armagnacais. This type of still is a single, continuous distillation.
Heather and Simon re-visited the region in January 2018 as part of a broader visit that also included Bergerac, Monbazillac and the Cote Marmandais. After re-tasting at Domaine d’Esperance we have shipped the following Armagnacs;
5 Year Old – A blend of Bacco and Folle Blanche matured for at least 5 years in oak and bottled at 40%. It has lots of raisined fruit and mouth coating sweetness and is a great introduction to the range.
10 Year Old – Bacco – also bottled at 40% dried fruit, more depth and weight than the 5 year old with hints of chocolate on the finish.
1995 Bacco – Bottled at 46%, it has classic notes of prune, moccha, broad shoulders and incredibly long finish.
2000 Folle Blanche – Bottled at 49% More delicate and refined and epitomizes the elegant style of Esperance.
(A limited number of the traditional ‘Pot Gascogne’ which are 2.5 ltr bottles of the 10 year old and 1995 Bacco are available for the more committed enthusiast)
Esperance also produce a red and white ‘Floc de Gascogne’, which are the traditional aperitifs served in the region. They are made from a blend of two thirds fresh grape juice and one third Armagnac and are delicious served chilled before a meal.
Last but not least there are two table wines. The Cuvée d’Or is a blend of 55% Sauvignon Blanc and 45% Gros Manseng. It’s fresh, aromatic and fruity. The Cuvée Rouge is a light, fruity red made from Tannat and Merlot and is great with charcuterie or bistro style fare.
Terms like ‘Artisan’ and ‘Craft Spirit’ are bandied around all too often these days. Lets not forget that Armagnac can lay claim to being France’s oldest spirit and many think, the best! It’s truly hand crafted, steeped in tradition and deeply rooted in the Gascon landscape – and the result? Eau de Vie with an unrivaled finesse and elegance.
Browse our online selection of Armagnac HERE!
Read more about our trip to Bergerac HERE!