Charron 30 Year 1988 Vintage Cask Strength Bas-Armagnac
Domaine de Charron, located in tiny Perquie, Landes (the same village as our beloved Chateau de Ravignan) is a small producer, distilling just 4-6 barrels a year from their 12 hectares of Baco grapes. The brandies are bottled traditionally, without any reduction, additives, or coloring. One of the great qualities of Armagnac made from Baco is its ability to work wonders when trading with oak during the long years of barrel aging, and Charron is a fantastic example of this. This affinity for oak is taken to the next level by the domaine, aging entirely in new barrels, which are left untouched once filled - no topping off and no blending of the vintages during the aging process. This makes their process more akin to Bourbon producers than to almost any other Armagnac producer (the mysterious and lauded Lous Pibous stock being a notable exception). The proprietor, Claude Lartigue, stands apart from the general model of producers in the region, who for the most part have been making Armagnac on their family land for generations. Claude began in the industry buying and selling barrels of Armagnac here and there, before eventually purchasing the Baco vineyards that he produces from today. In a world of old family tradition, this forward thinking kind of producer is a true oddity.
The nose is rich, subtly oaked compared to other old Charron vintages, and juicy as can be, with notes of sugarplum, nectarine, cinnamon, and a hint of star anise. The palate is likewise much fruitier than many Armagnacs of this age, which can often be dominated by dry oak flavors. Strange considering this was 30 years entirely in new oak, but it remains a supporting player despite all that time. Prunes, figs, and a cabinet full of baking spices steal the show, with nutmeg, clove, and cinnamon out front. A bit of savory-earthy complexity presents itself, like a mushroom jerky - that famous "rancio" that spirits of this age, especially brandies, can sometimes develop. The finish sees the spice slowly dissipate, leaving you with that prune note and the evidence of big oak finally stepping out front, with a bittersweet twinge. Bottled at a cask strength of 47.4% abv.