\n“Armagnac is a more agricultural spirit than cognac. The brandies of the region are vinous and wine like, maturing in the cask and also in the bottle… Single-vintage, estate bottle brandies from specific varieties of grape value the fruit and mineral qualities of the grape as much the traits of the oak from the barrels in which they rest.” Thad Vogler, By the Smoke and the Smell\n\nToday, we’re delighted to offer the latest releases from Laballe’s fabulous collection of vintage Armagnacs. Our offering includes some truly great Armagnac years—2001, 1985, 1981 and 1972 to list a few—alongside some vintages new to Australia: 1975, 1997 and 2004. The only downside is that, as the Laudet family seeks to conserve their stocks of ever-dwindling liquid treasure, some of the older vintages we have worked with are unavailable. All the spirits listed today are at least 19 years of age and are at a stage of development when those emotive and hard-to-describe old Brandy characters—which the cognoscenti covet—have begun to emerge. These are often summarised as rancio, varnish, chestnut, bonfire, or even likened to the umami notes of soy sauce. Aside from the quality in the bottle, Vintage Armagnacs are also a unique way to commemorate a special year and still remain well-priced compared to Whiskies or Cognacs of a similar age. Although Australia knows this grower best through its vintage-specific bottlings, in France, under the passionate new generation, Laballe has emerged as the driving force in a movement to bring this oldest of French agricultural spirits to a broader audience. To this end, Cyril Laudet and his wife Julie have forged a brilliant and authentic range of blended spirits directed towards the bar trade and younger palates, as well as a small range of eau de vie and grape-specific Armagnac from the Baco and Ugni Blanc varieties. First released in 2016, Laballe’s 3-12-21 range takes a more contemporary look at Armagnac. Laudet’s idea was to create an authentic range of Armagnacs that would shine on the back bar for use in cocktails while having enough depth and polish to be consumed neat. Crafted from Laballe’s maturing and reserve stocks, these age-dated spirits have been superbly blended and packaged to break the region’s conservative norms. They should not be overlooked. Finally, there’s the wonderful Resistance, a vibrant, new-wave Armagnac made solely from a grape that has played an important role in the region’s identity—Baco. Crafted in consultation with the bar trade, this unique bottling took three years to get just right and consists of a blend of three Armagnacs distilled in 2009, 2010 and 2012. On a recent buying trip in Southwest France, while we were waiting for our table we spied a bottle of Resistance behind the bar at one of Bordeaux’s buzzing establishments. What could we do but order an aperitif? Armagnac is back!\n \nFor full information on Château Laballe and to see the full range, click here.