The intention of the bottle share was to do only Armagnacs from the Saint Christeau brand, but as it turned out the shop had some stock issues and couldn’t deliver, or find, the bottles I ordered. Hence the switch to Laballe, Tariquet and Gaston Legrand.
The Saint Christeau brand is imported by Ton Overmars, the shop where I ordered them. Most of these bottles move very slowly, so everything I got was already bottled in 2006 to 2009. Surprising, actually, with the current focus on good booze and the rather low prices charged for these bottles. Quite mind boggling that you can get an Armagnac from 1938 for some € 300. A lot of money, but come on, 1938! That’s before French just gave the keys to the kingdom to Germany.
The Armagnac is distilled at Distillerie Miclo, which also distills all kinds of other fruit spirits. Currently they only have from 1960 onwards on their website so it seems we were just in time to try some 30s, 40s and 50s Armagnac before it’s all gone.
Saint Christeau 1940-2006, 40%
It smells ancient. Quite different to whisky-ancient though. The spirit is not as pronounced as it is in my favorite grain distillate. Something savory but also old fruit. Lots of caramel, sweet, treacly wine.
The palate is rich and dry. There’s caramel, ever so slightly bitter. Lots of oak and lots of fruit. Pickled fruit too. Grapes with a very curious sweetness.
A dry, full and rich finish. Everlasting, more or less. Toffee and lots of oak. The oak is comparable to very old port.
Saint Christeau 1987-2007, 40.6%
It has typical Armagnac flavors but less intense than the 1940. There’s some age to it, which results in quite some oak. Slightly bitter caramel.
The palate has more chocolate, dates and some pepper. Dry, oak and is much more modern. Not as fruity.
The finish is gorgeous again. Rich with lots of caramel, oak, dates. Very warming and spiced.
After I tried these ‘first two’ I might say I could be swayed into buying more Armagnac and less whisky. These two are very different to the Laballes, and much better for it. Of course, there’s a lot more age to it (somehow, age is not important to whisky guys, right?), but according to general consensus, Bas Armagnac is better than other sub regions.
Anyway, the 1940. My initial reaction was something in line of ‘holy friggin’ shit’! The depth of flavor in combination with lots of oak and a fruit distillate works wonders. There’s not that much going on but the flavors are simply delicious.
The 1987 is a lot more simple and tasting that after the 1940 might diminish it a bit. However, when I compare it to the Laballes again, it’s still stunning. A lot going on, much more focused on the distillate. Still at 20 years old the oak has had plenty of time to swing some flavor into the spirit.
As said, this kind of stuff could convince me into buying more. It’s absolutely gorgeous. But I think we still have to wait for a more general conclusion. We’ve had two producers, and two regions. We should do a more level comparison.