Cognac Lheraud has acquired the Company Baron G. Legrand in 1998; this Company exists since more than 120 years, but has always sold its Armagnacs in bulk to other Companies. In 1998, in a very bad financial situation, without any possibility to continue its business (the owners were old and without children), they asked Mr. Lheraud if he would buy the Company. As he knew them since more than 25 years, and convinced by the high quality and know how of the Company, he has agreed. Since that date, nothing has changed by Armagnac Legrand: people, cellar master, buildings are the same and will stay in place.
Baron G. Legrand is located in the south west of France (150 km south from Bordeaux) in the delimited area Bas Armagnac between Eauze and Nogaro cities and owns 25 hectares of vineyards in one lot:
View of the vineyards
The grape varieties used for the making of white wine which will be distilled are only:
Ugni Blanc: 50 %
Baco Blanc: 40 %
These varieties are traditionally used for wines which will be distilled for Armagnac. The harvest are made end of September and the wines are distilled from November until end of March. Wines which are produced are not for traditional consumption (these wines are too bitter and have a poor alcoholic level).
Armagnac Legrand owns its 2 traditionals “Alambic Armagnacais” which have been made in the beginning of 20th century:
The distillation is made by the “old” owner (who still lives in the same place). Armagnac is made by a distillation in one time (instead of cognac which is distilled two times). The alcohol which is made is not Armagnac (it will be Armagnac only three years later), it is called “eau de vie” and has only 52% to 60 % alcohol. Distillation runs all day long from November ? December until end of March. The Alambics run only with wood and not with gas, in accordance with the traditional way to distillate. With this kind of way to boil the wines, a human being shall be 24 hours per day in the distillery. The human touch is more important than the technology and gives Armagnacs originality because each one has been made by a man and not by a computer! Most of the Armagnacs which are on the market have all almost the same taste because most of the time, distillations are now made and controlled by computers. Even technology has made prodigious progress (in terms of final quality of products), it can not adapt the distillation to quality of wines which are various and depending each year on climate.
These traditional Alambics run without water that is normally used as cooler; the cold wine (in blue in the diagram) are introduced into the Alambic, and cools the alcoholic steams (in yellow). In contact with these hot steams, it becomes warm (it is also warmed by the heater) and the alcoholic steams are cooled by the new cold wine. This process is called “continual distillation” because the distillation itself never stops.
We have more than 4 different cellars where are stored Armagnacs in barrels. The barrels have a capacity of 350 litres, and are all made in Oakwood from Gasconny (this kind of Oakwood gives to the Armagnac a special taste). Each cellar contains different Armagnacs:
Cellar number one: only Armagnacs which have been distilled in the passed year
Cellar number two: Armagnacs distilled from two until 10 years ago (each barrel contains only one vintage)
Cellar number three: old armagnacs distilled more than 10 years ago
Cellar number four: very old armagnacs (distilled more than 60 years ago and stored in big glass bottles called “Dame Jeanne”); when the cellar master considers that the ageing in now over for an old Armagnac, he put it into these “Dame Jeanne” where the glass stops the ageing. This cellar is also called “Paradis”.
One of the unique specificity of Armagnac Baron Legrand is that we have a complete list of available vintage Armagnacs (from 1994 until 1888). Each vintage is aged in separate barrels (we do not blend the Armagnacs).
Each vintage is bottled only on demand and needs; if there are no demands, the Armagnacs stay in barrels. The bottling is not made automatically, but by hand on a traditional bottling line.