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Château Laballe

Armagnac is Back: Breathing New life into France’s Oldest Spirit

Driven by the energy from eighth-generation Cyril Laudet and his wife Julie, Château Laballe has emerged as one of this historic region’s most progressive houses. Laudet took over the family Domaine in 2007, determined to bring the oldest of French agricultural spirits back in line with what is considered best practice in other regions. There has been a considerable shift towards improving the quality of the base material, to the extent that many of Laballe’s vines are now farmed biodynamically. Then, intent on bringing great Armagnac to a broader audience, Laballe has forged a brilliant and authentic range of blended spirits for the bar trade as well as grape-specific bottlings.

At a time when contemporary drinkers are crying out for spirits of authenticity, heritage and character, Armagnac is well poised to tap into the zeitgeist. Here is an organic Estate that not only makes outstanding brandy but also controls every step of production from vineyard to bottle. When it comes to distilling and aging, there are no plans to sacrifice the authenticity of Armagnac’s time-honoured traditions which impart such impressive flavour and character into their spirits. For example, the Domaine still uses the same cart-mounted, wood-fired, copper still that has been in operation since 1923. With this ancient still, the temperature varies significantly during the distillation, imparting extra character to the Armagnacs, as opposed to gas stills which operate at a constant temperature. The spirits then age in Chêne Noir Gascon, the 410-litre barrels made of oak from the nearby Landes Forest.

At a time when contemporary drinkers are crying out for spirits of authenticity, heritage and character, Armagnac is well poised to tap into the zeitgeist. 

Alongside crafting an exciting range of Armagnacs for the bar trade, Laballe manages an enviable collection of aged stocks going all the way back to 1888. Great, aged Armagnac can convey a deep sense of place in a manner that is rare in the spirits world, and Laballe’s fabulous examples are loaded with personality, fine textures, and flavours that echo across the palate. The extended maturation within thick-grained oak imparts plenty of tannin and spice, giving Laballe’s vintage Armagnac its distinctive style. There is no addition of colour, and all the spirits are bottled brut de fût (unfiltered and at their natural alcohol level), often from a single barrel. Vintage Armagnacs are a great way to commemorate a birthday or anniversary and are typically well priced when compared to Whiskies or Cognacs of similar ages. Should you require a specific birthday vintage bottle, please let us know.

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Château Laballe Bas Armagnac Resistance Baco
Bibendum Bar

Château Laballe Bas Armagnac Resistance Baco

Until the late 1970s, Baco remained the prime ingredient in Armagnac and while Ugni Blanc holds that position today, this variety—now exclusive to Armagnac country—has played an important role in the region’s identity; a role that Cyril Laudet wanted to commemorate with Resistance. He also wants to demonstrate to people why this variety is important, by showcasing it on its own. So, made from 100% Baco grapes, in consultation with the 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. PS) A little explanation on the name and label. A French-American hybrid, Baco was developed at the turn of the twentieth century to produce some of the same flavours as Folle Blanche but without its susceptibility to phylloxera. So, the etching adorning the label illustrates this formidable parasite that devastated French vineyards around this time. The three eaux de vie spent their first year after distillation in new 410-litre Chêne Noir Gascon barrels from Bartholomo (the last barrel maker in the Landes region) to develop texture and sweetness, and then the rest of their aging in older barrels, bringing more earthy and savoury notes. On the nose, you are immediately struck by the distinctiveness of this grape, with aromas of apple, smoke and citrus giving way to a round, salty expression in the mouth that finishes with a hint of liquorice. It’s a delightfully elegant spirit with an impressive balance of flavour, complexity and elegance as well as good length and the hearty weight you’d expect from a quality Bas Armagnac.

The three eaux de vie spent their first year after distillation in new 410-litre Chêne Noir Gascon barrels from Bartholomo (the last barrel maker in the Landes region) to develop texture and sweetness, and then the rest of their aging in older barrels, bringing more earthy and savoury notes. On the nose, you are immediately struck by the distinctiveness of this grape, with aromas of apple, smoke and citrus giving way to a round, salty expression in the mouth that finishes with a hint of liquorice. It’s a delightfully elegant spirit with an impressive balance of flavour, complexity and elegance as well as good length and the hearty weight you’d expect from a quality Bas Armagnac.

Château Laballe Bas Armagnac Resistance Baco
Bibendum Bar
Château Laballe Bas Armagnac 1984
Bibendum Bar

Château Laballe Bas Armagnac 1984

The great spirit of Gascony has been made in this part of south-west France for at least seven centuries, predating Cognac—which is made in the Charente Valley three hours to the north—by a century and a half. And yet, while the global appreciation of this rural spirit has long lagged behind its urbane (and well-marketed) cousin, Cyril Laudet and his wife Julie are here to ensure that Armagnac is no longer content to quietly sit by and play second fiddle. Located at the edge of the great Landes forest (France’s largest) and Gers river, Château Laballe lies in the village Parleboscq, part of the Bas Armagnac terroir. Château Laballe’s founder, Jean-Dominique Laudet, purchased the Domaine back in 1820. After a career in the spice trade, Jean-Dominique’s dream was to settle down in the country and produce France’s oldest spirit. Today, Cyril and Julie are the 8th generation to continue the family tradition, and are determined to galvanise their ancient Estate, without sacrificing its enduring connection to the past. And they’re off to a flyer. 100% Baco grape. This round and supple spirit has a deep gold colour and rich aromas of candied fruits, deep caramel and praline nuttiness. It’s an intense and bold Armagnac, with a rich and spicy palate leading to a balanced and pleasantly warming close.  

This round and supple spirit has a deep gold colour and rich aromas of candied fruits, deep caramel and praline nuttiness. It’s an intense and bold Armagnac, with a rich and spicy palate leading to a balanced and pleasantly warming close.

Château Laballe Bas Armagnac 1984
Bibendum Bar
Château Laballe Bas Armagnac 1983
Bibendum Bar

Château Laballe Bas Armagnac 1983

Great, aged Armagnac can convey a deep sense of place in a manner that is rare in the spirits world, and Laballe’s fabulous examples are loaded with personality, fine textures and flavours that echo across the palate. Distilled in the domaine’s 1923 wood-fired copper still, these Armagnacs then age in Chêne Noir Gascon—410-litre barrels made of oak from the nearby Landes forest—until they are bottled for sale. The extended maturation within this thick-grained oak imparts plenty of tannin and spice, giving Laballe’s vintage Armagnac its distinctive style., There is no addition of colour, and all the spirits are bottled brut de fût—unfiltered and at their natural alcohol level—often from a single barrel. 100% Baco grape. A refined and elegant spirit, the 1983 holds a captivating bouquet, layered with spice, florals, honey and ripe fruits leading to a poised and balanced palate with fine structure and a polished, lengthy close. Spice, tobacco and rich fruits are laden throughout, making this a perfect finish to an evening of fine food, wine and company.

100% Baco grape. A refined and elegant spirit, the 1983 holds a captivating bouquet, layered with spice, florals, honey and ripe fruits leading to a poised and balanced palate with fine structure and a polished, lengthy close. Spice, tobacco and rich fruits are laden throughout, making this a perfect finish to an evening of fine food, wine and company.

Château Laballe Bas Armagnac 1983
Bibendum Bar
Château Laballe Bas Armagnac Gold 21 years (500ml)
Bibendum Bar

Château Laballe Bas Armagnac Gold 21 years (500ml)

With a minimum of 21 years age, this deeply flavoured, expansive Armagnac has all the aromatic complexity and depth that you would expect of great, old Bas Armagnac. Over half the blend is drawn from stocks over 30 years old, lending an exceptional depth of flavour and spicy depth. It is at once both powerful and elegant—a hallmark of Laballe’s vintage bottlings—offering layers of wood spice, dried fruits, tobacco, cocoa and a hint of peat smoke, backed by a luxurious, fleshy mouthfeel and serious depth. Best served as a digestif or for sipping after dinner.

Over half the blend is drawn from stocks over 30 years old, lending an exceptional depth of flavour and spicy depth. It is at once both powerful and elegant—a hallmark of Laballe’s vintage bottlings—offering layers of wood spice, dried fruits, tobacco, cocoa and a hint of peat smoke, backed by a luxurious, fleshy mouthfeel and serious depth. Best served as a digestif or for sipping after dinner.

Château Laballe Bas Armagnac Gold 21 years (500ml)
Bibendum Bar
Château Laballe Bas Armagnac 1973
Bibendum Bar

Château Laballe Bas Armagnac 1973

The great spirit of Gascony has been made in this part of south-west France for at least seven centuries, predating Cognac—which is made in the Charente Valley three hours to the north—by a century and a half. And yet, while the global appreciation of this rural spirit has long lagged behind its urbane (and well-marketed) cousin, Cyril Laudet and his wife Julie are here to ensure that Armagnac is no longer content to quietly sit by and play second fiddle. Located at the edge of the great Landes forest (France’s largest) and Gers river, Château Laballe lies in the village Parleboscq, part of the Bas Armagnac terroir. Château Laballe’s founder, Jean-Dominique Laudet, purchased the Domaine back in 1820. After a career in the spice trade, Jean-Dominique’s dream was to settle down in the country and produce France’s oldest spirit. Today, Cyril and Julie are the 8th generation to continue the family tradition, and are determined to galvanise their ancient Estate, without sacrificing its enduring connection to the past. And they’re off to a flyer. 100% Baco grape. 1973 was a classic vintage with a pronounced fruity character. The nose is very delicate and fresh with aniseed notes and citrus fruit leading to a smooth and long palate with a similar profile and added notes of liquorice. Layers of spice bring great freshness and complexity to this medium-bodied Armagnac. 

1973 was a classic vintage with a pronounced fruity character. The nose is very delicate and fresh with aniseed notes and citrus fruit leading to a smooth and long palate with a similar profile and added notes of liquorice. Layers of spice bring great freshness and complexity to this medium-bodied Armagnac.

Château Laballe Bas Armagnac 1973
Bibendum Bar
Château Laballe Coffret Mini 3x100 (Ice, Rich & Gold)
Bibendum Bar

Château Laballe Coffret Mini 3x100 (Ice, Rich & Gold)

A set of three 100ml bottles from Laballe, showcasing its three-year-old, 12-year-old and 21-year-old Armagnacs. This set comes presented in an eco-friendly poplar wood box, made in France, that is emblazoned with Laballe’s mantra—Armagnac is back. The three-year-old 'Ice' is the youngest of Laballe’s 3-12-21 collection. This Armagnac is aged in oak barrels (a quarter of which are new) from the Landes Forest for a minimum of three years. Distilled from Ugni Blanc, it’s a delicious, fine-boned young Bas Armagnac with lovely freshness, yet also good body and texture. It works beautifully as an aperitif Armagnac and on the rocks as well as in cocktails. You could try it in a D’Artagnan (basically a brandy-laced Bucks Fizz), a Sidecar or a southwest speciality, the Landaise Mule (50ml of Armagnac, 10ml lime juice, over ice, topped with ginger beer). The Rich is aged for a minimum of 12 years in oak barrels from the nearby Landes Forest. Crafted from 80% Ugni Blanc and 20% Baco, and distilled in Laballe’s wood-fired copper pot, it is a layered, wonderfully balanced and generous Armagnac with deep, earthy nuances of salted caramel, cumin and saffron balanced with fresh, zesty notes of grapefruit and orange peel. The extra layers and texture bode well for after-dinner sipping. Alternatively, this can add complex, spicy oomph to a Sazerac. With a minimum of 21 years age, Laballe's Gold is a deeply flavoured, expansive Armagnac with all the aromatic complexity and depth that you would expect of great, old Bas Armagnac. Over half the blend is drawn from stocks over 30 years old, lending an exceptional depth of flavour and spicy depth. It is at once both powerful and elegant—a hallmark of Laballe’s vintage bottlings—offering layers of wood spice, dried fruits, tobacco, cocoa and a hint of peat smoke, backed by a luxurious, fleshy mouthfeel and serious depth. Best served as a digestif or for sipping after dinner.

Château Laballe Coffret Mini 3x100 (Ice, Rich & Gold)
Bibendum Bar
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“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

Country

France

Primary Region

Armagnac

People

Owners: Cyril and Julie Laudet

Availability

National

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