So there’s no doubting the love of Cognac, both in the US and around the world. But it appears that the small wine growing region of Gascony, France, and their brandy known as Armagnac, is hoping that two highly important economic events in the US might well see their product becoming far more mainstream. These are the relaxing of the trade embargoes with Cuba, and the lift of the ban of Foie Gras in California.
So how on earth are these two events linked? And what does it mean for Armagnac and Cognac producers?
Firstly, let’s look at what Armagnac actually is. Sometimes referred to as the ‘little brother of cognac’, this is a brandy produced in the South West region of France. In the same way as Cognac has AOC status, so does Armagnac. It’s produced from grapes and aged in oak barrels. But the similarity stops there. Whereas Cognac is double distilled, most Armagnac is only distilled the once. The growing area is far smaller than that of Cognac and there are no large producers such as Hennessy or Martell. And when it comes to taste, Armagnac is perhaps somewhat more ‘raw’ than Cognac.
Most of the vineyards are small, family run affairs and exportation around the world is on a much smaller scale than that of Cognac. The largest producer of Armagnac is Janneau, located in the small French town of Condom.
So what do these changes mean for the Cognac and Armagnac industries?
Firstly, let’s look at the aspect of foie gras. The reason this has an impact is because Armagnac is often associated with the goose liver delicacy. It’s not so much drunk along with eating fois gras, but more that it’s used as an ingredient with dishes in which it’s contained. And the Armagnac producers are hoping that this could be the big break they’ve been looking for.
As for the opening up of trade to Cuba, it’s highly likely that industries such as Cognac, Armagnac and Rum will see this as a new outlet for their products.
Paul Yannon, PR representative for the Armagnac brand of Chateau de Tariquet, said, “The more trade opens up with Cuba, the better this will be not only for Armagnac, but also for rum and Cognac. Everyone’s kind of looking at America right now, there’s a big interest, it could mean a lot to [Armagnac producers]”.
Sources: outsideonline.com, francetourism.com.au