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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. 1981 was a powerful vintage, ‘on the fruit’ as they say in the region. It has an old gold colour and a discreet yet complex nose, leading to a palate that is very complex, generous and powerful—rugged yet fine. There are some sweet fruit notes but also a lovely freshness, a common feature of Laballe Armagnacs.
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