Under the direction of its eighth generation, Cyril Laudet and his wife Julie, Chateau Laballe is firing on all cylinders today. Alongside crafting an exciting new range of Armagnacs for the bar trade, Laballe also manages an enviable collection of aged stocks going all the way back to 1888. In advance of shipping a range of the classics outlined below, we’re delighted to offer you the opportunity to plunder the Laballe stocks of vintage wines with this pre-arrival offer.
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 eighth generation to continue the family tradition, and are determined to galvanize their ancient estate, without sacrificing its enduring connection to the past.
At a time when drinkers are crying out for spirits of authenticity, heritage and character, Armagnac is well poised to tap into the zeitgeist. As Thad Vogler, owner and buyer for San Francisco’s legendary Bar Agricole—and long-time Armagnac advocate—points out, “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.” Like Mezcal and Rhum Agricole, great Armagnac has the ability to convey a deep sense of place in a manner that is rare in the spirits world.
Labelle is at the forefront of this movement as it’s an earth-to-glass operation where the farmer growing the grape, is also the distiller making the Eaux de vie, and the cellar master aging the spirit. Look at your back bar. How many of the spirits lining those shelves can boast a holistic model like this? And of those that do, how many can trace their distilling roots for eight centuries and offer examples going back to the early 60’s?
Since Cyril Laudet’s arrival back to the family estate in 2007, most of the positive developments have taken place in the vineyard (where organic practice is the norm) and at blending level (more on this when the spirits arrive). However, when it comes to production Laudet has no plans to sacrifice the authenticity of Armagnac’s time-honoured DIY attitude that imparts such impressive flavour and character into their spirits. The Domaine has used the same cart-mounted, wood-fired, copper still since 1923. With this ancient still, the temperature varies significantly during the distillation, imparting extra character to the Armagnacs (as opposed to gas stills that operate at a constant temperature). The spirits then age in Chêne Noir Gascon—410-litre barrels made of oak from the nearby Landes forest. In terms of the vintages we’re offering, there are no colouring additions and all the spirits are bottled brut de fût—unfiltered and at their natural alcohol level.
|Spirits Brandy/Pisco/Grappa/Eau de Vie