Château Arton, an author's eau-de-vie
For 30 years, we have been defending the living spirit of Armagnac. Like the wine from which it is made, this unique eau-de-vie tells the story of where it comes from, the terroir that saw its vines grow, the year that saw its grapes ripen. We are convinced that the vintage is its most accomplished expression.
Our commitment as owner-harvesters to carry out all the stages of the elaboration of our Armagnacs on the estate allows us to accompany the maturing of our eaux-de-vie with know-how from the plantier to the bottling. This artisanal excellence ensures the quality of our Armagnacs and the taste of our land. It is the guarantee of our authenticity.
Combined with the mineral richness of our limestone soil, this meticulous work has led us to rediscover the youth of the vintages. The geological specificity of our terroir on the Lectoure plateau, a humus clay-siliceous soil where limestone rocks outcrop, allows us to raise expressive Armagnacs that reach roundness and complexity from the first years of their ageing, revealing a new aromatic fullness.
Châton Arton’s Armagnacs carry a renewed vision of the Gascon brandy which links the quality of the Armagnac to the quality of the distilled wine and to the viticultural know-how. The mastery of the stages of their elaboration has given us the necessary freedom to explore the aromatic power of our terroir, revealing the freshness and generosity of our young vintages.
The elaboration process of Château Arton Armagnacs
Our Armagnacs draw their aromatic power from the geological richness of our Haut-Armagnac soil and from the care with which they are made. From the vine to the wine and from the wine to the brandy, everything happens at the estate. This filiation is crucial, committing us season after season.
From vine to wine
Châton Arton is born in the vineyards of the estate.
The Ugni blanc, planted on the “Pasteur” plot, overlooks Lake Arton. It is the grape variety for distillation par excellence. It produces acidic wines, with little alcohol, which produce a fine quality eau-de-vie.
Colombard, a more confidential local grape variety, grows below the Chartreuse. Very popular in the vinification of Côtes de Gascogne wines, it is distinguished, after distillation, by its fruity, lemony and spicy aromas which sublimate the blends.
In mid-August, the grapes are tasted to monitor their maturation. The sugar level must remain low and the acidity must be high to make a good distillation wine. Harvesting starts at the end of August- beginning of September depending on the year. The harvest is done at night, when it is cooler, to preserve the aromas of the grapes.
The fruits are pressed immediately to preserve their flavors and avoid their oxidation. The addition of sulfites is forbidden in the elaboration of Armagnac. The wine making is natural, elaborated by fermentation according to a traditional method.
In October, as soon as the wine is ready, the distillation is started.
The distillation period is fixed by decree. It is carried out once the harvest is finished, and ends on March 31 of the year following the harvest.
From wine to Armagnac
The Armagnacs of Château Arton draw their aromatic power from the care with which they are elaborated.
At the Arton estate, we practice distillation in autumn, as close as possible to the harvest and fermentation, to preserve all the freshness of the aromas and to ensure that the wine is in its prime. The wine still carries all the history of its year.
The distillation is done at the property with a traditional copper column still, called “armagnacais”, a mobile still, with continuous distillation, which is installed at the estate. The distiller watches over the still day and night to ensure that the wine is slowly transformed into eau-de-vie. His know-how is essential for the latter to be loaded with the best aromas.
Heating the wine and nothing else is the secret of our Armagnac!
The fresh wine (15°) circulates in the still, bubbles over the boiler and releases vapors that rise and meet the fresh wine that descends. The vapors are then enriched with the aromas of the wine and as they cool, they condense and give birth to the white Armagnac (54°).
This pure and transparent eau-de-vie is very richly aromatic, fruity and floral. It can be bottled, after a three-month rest in stainless steel tanks – this is our Fine Blanche® (45°) – or stored in 420-liter Gascony oak barrels where it will develop its amber, copper and gold nuances and its aromas to become Armagnac (45°).
Each wine is distilled separately and each barrel is dedicated to a single grape variety. The blending will come later.
The oak and the cellar
The time of the cellar is the time of the know-how of the man. Characterized by its silence and its subdued light, it is the place of the work of time. We come here to meditate, as in a cathedral, and to taste. It is here that the birth of our Armagnacs is prepared each year.
The crystalline eau-de-vie is first housed in a new barrel. This is the time of dialogue with the oak. It takes on the color of the wood, feeds on its aromas, extracting the tannins from the wood. The essences from the wood and the wine evolve with the oxidation of the Armagnac in contact with the air through the oak. This alchemy gives birth to Armagnac.
The brandy is then transferred to an older barrel, to slow down the extraction of the wood, to prevent it from overtaking the fruit, and to continue its maturation slowly to reach its perfect balance. It rests. The range of aromas (pear, pepper, vanilla, prune) develops. The woody taste is refined and the rancio appears.
At the Domaine d’Arton, the barrels are stored in a dry cellar and then in a wet cellar, the passage from one cellar to the other being done during the tasting. The temperature variations between winter and summer and the natural humidity influence the maturation of the eau-de-vie.
Our dry cellar allows the extraction of the components present in the wood. The water evaporates, intensifying the concentration of alcohol, sublimating the Armagnac. Our wet cellar, dating from the 18th century, allows the alcohol to escape. This is the angels’ share! The alcohol level naturally decreases to reach 45°, bringing suppleness and roundness.
It is during the ageing process that the brandy takes on the characteristic amber color of Armagnac. Our Armagnac is authentic. We do not add wood chips, coloring agents, sugars, or artificial flavors to accelerate its maturation. Only time does its work.
The aging of our Armagnacs is made to measure. Regular tasting is essential to monitor the balance of aromas, tannins and alcohol. It determines the flavor of our eaux-de-vie and characterizes our signature.
Armagnac is the art of taking its time and letting Nature do its work. Man is only there to reveal it.
Blending, vintages and bottling at the estate
Progressively, the Armagnac reaches its maturity. The time comes to blend or vintage, and to bottle. Once under glass, the Armagnac ages only very subtly. L, the glass and the wax cork preserving the aromas.
Our cellar master who, from one season to the next, watches over our barrels, conducts the blending. The subtle marriage of eaux-de-vie of different ages and grape varieties requires his unique know-how and special attention.
This meticulous game of blending allows us to shape the soul of our Armagnacs La Réserve, to give it all its aromatic richness, and to ensure, year after year, the respect of its gustative notes. They are made from a blend of eaux-de-vie, the youngest of which has aged for at least 6 years in an oak barrel.
Our Vintage Armagnacs are the exceptional expression of a year. Made without blending, they come from one and the same barrel, from one and the same distillation, from one and the same harvest. Our commitment to carry out each step of the elaboration of our Armagnacs on the estate allows us to distinguish one or two exceptional casks. Each single cask vintage is unique, characterized by the richness of its aromas, an incomparable flavor that tells the story of its year, a new and original interpretation of our terroir.
Our Armagnac La Flamme® is the “grand second” of Château Arton Millésime. Made from a blend of excellent casks, all distilled in the same year, it is an author’s Armagnac offering a more affordable interpretation of the Vintage. We owe this original creation to the pioneering spirit of Patrick de Montal.
Our Armagnac Millésimes and La Flamme® honor the living quality of the distilled wine, a specificity of the Gascon brandy that underlines the unique character of a year and a terroir.
A fresh look at Armagnac
For the past 40 years, Patrick de Montal has placed Armagnac in the culture of wine, redefining it as a living spirit, the only one that can truly become more refined with age. This particularity has led him to consider the vintage as the most accomplished expression of Armagnac, and has led him to present a “grand second”, following the example of the great classified growths of Bordeaux. His daring approach is at the origin of a true philosophy of the Gascon brandy.