Armagnac, 'Folle Blanche' #123, 1996, Château de Briat
Château de Briat has a long and impressive history; built in 1540, it first served as the hunting manor for Queen Jeanne d’Albret. After changing ownership several times, the domaine was taken over by Baron Raoul de Pichon-Longueville in 1864. The family used the estate as a country retreat while continuing the château’s tradition of distilling a percentage of the harvest every year and stocking Armagnac. Tragedy struck in 2003, when Master Distiller, Gilles de Luze, and his wife lost their lives in a car accident on their way home from a local trade show in Paris. As a result, their son, Stephane de Luze, suddenly found himself at the helm of this prestigious estate. Stephane maintains his father’s traditions of keeping low yields and pruning to give a final harvest of 60hl/ha. Each grape variety (Colombard, Bacco, Folle Blanche) is distilled separately to 52°, and 10 new barrels are laid down during a given year. After 2 or 3 years, they are transferred to older casks and, apart from an airing once a year, left to rest in the spacious yet primitive chai. Topping up is not practiced; de Luze prefers to let the level fall (to promote air contact), creating a spirit that is less aggressive.
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