1997 L'Encantada 20 Year Old "Bellair #36" Bas-Armagnac (750ml) (Previously $100) SKU #1376985

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Tasting Notes

Independent bottler L'Encantada understands what Armagnac lovers want because that's exactly what they are. This group of Armagnac-loving friends realized that some of the region's small estates were throwing away legendary eau-de-vie to blends made by the big négociants. They offered those estates a premium to retain the stocks for bottling as single casks at full strength. Many of these estates had never bottled Armagnac nor had any interested in marketing their precious eau-de-vie. Our friends at L'Encantada realized that the soul of Armagnac exists in its terroir, history and culture. By wasting these exceptional brandies in large house blends you strip them of the very soul that makes this drink so special. But they've committed to supporting small estates producing traditional Armagnac and bottling single casks at full strength. The results are some of the most special spirits we've ever come across. The Bellair estate is located on the plain that stretches out to the west of the meandering Douze River. Planted to Baco and Ugni Blanc, the estate has its own still. Elevage of this particular vintage was in extra large 600L foudres, which were purchased recently by the domaine, but typically they would use old barrels. A unique expression from this very special small distiller.

Staff Reviews

  • Jeffrey Jones
    By: Jeffrey Jones
    11/8/2018
    K&L Staff Member
    This is one of my favorite Armagnacs that K&L currently has to offer. It is elegant and subtle with layers of nuance awaiting someone lucky enough to have a glass of it. On the light side , it is drier than most Armagnacs .
  • William Beare
    By: William Beare
    11/6/2018
    K&L Staff Member
    Tasting l'Encantada Armagnac is always like a mini vacation for me. These spirits are so uniquely terroir driven and personality laden that each one takes you on a journey through the Gascony countryside. The Bellair '97 is an immediately friendly, warming presence-- the ABV hides subtly in a foundation of dank cedar aromatics. This quickly gives way to layers of waxy honey, candied orange peel, and almond. An Armagnac for those who like to stray away from the dessert-substitutes that often dominate Cognac and Armagnac selections. This is a bracing, fire-in-the-belly, sparring-partner of a digestive spirit with a deep, rich color that puts any artificially colored spirits to appropriate shame.
  • Andrew Whiteley
    By: Andrew Whiteley
    11/6/2018
    K&L Staff Member
    Absolutely one of the most unique Armagnac's we have ever offered. The tannic structure is completely different than most brandies of this age. It is remarkably well integrated into the spirit offering a full, but subtle mouth feel. and a tremendously enjoyable drinking experience. The extra large barrels also allows for more oxidation providing the rancio notes more associated with olorosso sherry. The immediate finish is long and dusty, but gives way to cracked pepper intermingled with dried fruits as you let it linger. The texture of the spirit makes it easy to forget about the 51.7% alcohol when drinking neat, but the addition of a drop of water changes everything and brings the fruit to the foreground on the nose and palate.
  • David Othenin-Girard
    By: David Othenin-Girard
    11/6/2018
    K&L Staff Member
    Bellair is a well regarded estate that have sold brandies via the Darroze brand as well. Encantada, through some personal connections, was able to secure a few casks of various ages, but they're an extremely unique style. While the domaine would normally use very little new oak, they do regularly use extra large puncheon style foudres and it seems that they purchase a new 600L barrel in the year or two before this special brandy was distilled. The larger size has a completely different affect on the brandy then we're used to showing much stronger oxidation and a more integrated addition of oak tannin. I fell in love with this cask because it offered something completely different from any thing else on the shelf. The ultra rancio nuttiness implies and almost sherried quality that very few of the other Encantada offerings show. The heavy oxidation makes us worried that the palate will be out of balance or bitter, yet not of the classic pitfalls exist here. The nose waffles between subtle funk and roasted nuts to nearly Creme de Cassis level fruitiness. Is it bourbon, is it Scotch, is it Brandy? We're in the wilderness here. The deep savoriness takes over on the palate, but because of the larger barrels the oak is not totally overpowering. The frighteningly high proof is totally lost if not for a powerful tingly pepper on the finish. For sure this one is the odd man out among the offerings this year, but it also offers some incredible links that will appeal to many many different types of drinkers. Another insane value from our dear friends at Encantada. Like all these brandies, this one loves to take it's time in the glass and really opens up after 30-45 minutes.
  • Neal Fischer
    By: Neal Fischer
    11/6/2018
    K&L Staff Member
    This tasty brandy opens with layers of wood, spice, and a subtle sweetness. On the nose I get impressions of varnished oak, cedar, and teak with gentle caramel and chocolate-covered cherries. On the palate the cherries come out more forward along with floral elements.

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