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Maison Janneau
is one of the oldest

of the great Armagnac houses.



Founded by Pierre Etienne Janneau in 1851 at Condom in Armagnac, four generations of the Janneau family have followed, passing down the secret of Grand Armagnac from father to son.

Maison Janneau is one of the main producers that carries out the distillation, ageing and bottling of its production fully in the region of origin, the AOC Armagnac.   

Maison Janneau as of  today is home of one of the most important production plant and storage facility of the Armagnac region and  is a leading brand in the Armagnac sector producing exclusively Super Premium Quality Armagnac.

The oldest spirit of France


Armagnac is one of three “Appellation contrôlée” French brandies. The other two are Cognac and Calvados.

Armagnac is the oldest one, and the most ancient spirit in France and probably in the world. Indeed, traces of distilleries going back to the XIV century were found in the region. Armagnac officially celebrated 700 years of history in 2010 with many celebrations around the world.


Armagnac was born in Gascony, a region in South-Western France, at the footstep of the Pyrenees mountains, between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean coasts, a gentle hilly landscape cultivated with vines since the ancient Romans times and dotted with beautiful medieval villages.  

Here, in the heart of the appellation Armagnac, is where the ancient city of Condom is situated, and where Janneau carries out all of its Grand Armagnac production.

The geographical area of appellation encompasses the region of Gers, Landes and  Lot-et Garonne.

In 1909, President Fallières delimited the AOC region of Armagnac and divided it into three distinct regions according to the variety of their soils: Bas Armagnac, Ténarèze and Haut Armagnac.

Armagnac unique character and high grade of quality are determined by a number of factors unique to this region.


The soil

Today, mainly Bas Armagnac and  Ténarèze produce the wines for distillation: more than 15000 hectares are used to cultivate traditional vines.  The grape growing region is well defined and extends over an area of geologically varying soils: from the clay calcareous soils of Ténarèze to the more sandy soils of Bas Armagnac and the clay limestone soils of Haut Armagnac.  

The soil characteristics influence the styles of the eaux-de-vie : more fruity and delicate in Bas Armagnac, more vigorous and full-bodied in Ténarèze and Haut Armagnac.
Janneau has chosen to blend Armagnacs from the three terroirs under the noble appellation “Armagnac”.

The Armagnac region


The wines

The main varieties of grapes used for the distilling wines at Janneau are Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche, Colombard, and Baco. All are white grape varieties. Only unfiltered, natural white wines, obtained through traditional vinification methods without racking-off so that the wines still contain their lees, are used to make 'Armagnac’.  Immediately after fermentation, the white natural unadulterated wine is distilled . The combination of the resulting eaux-de-vie give Armagnac its inimitable bouquet, vigor and full-body.


The climate

A perfect climate for the vines : temperate with mild winters and long hot summers.

The distillation process

At the House of Janneau we have been blending since the late 1970’s the spirits obtained from both methods to create our assemblages, a characteristic which distinguishes our armagnacs from all others.
The percentage of brandies used plays an important role in forming the characteristics of each assemblage, and it varies according to age.

The distillation is carried out in Winter and by law must be completed by 31st March following the harvest. There are two very different distillation methods consented by law for the distillation of Armagnac.

 


The most common is Continuous Distillation, which uses a special  column still, also called Armagnaçais, extracts vigorously, aromatic  brandies, rich in essential oils.

In 1972 Janneau reintroduced the Double Distillation method to the Region, which was the original method of distillation in alambic prior to the limitations imposed in 1903.

The Double Distillation method is a more complex method that uses different copper alambics extracting only the heart of the distillation thus eliminating “heads” and “tails”.

The first product called “brouillis” is distilled again for the second time. At the very beginning the resulting liquid, called head, is left aside as it contains some impurities. The heart, which is the part of the distillate achieving the desired quality is kept, and the tail is set aside with the head to be distilled again with the next batch of wine. Freshly distilled double distilled Armagnac is as clear as water with decidedly fruity, occasional plum, green apples and also vanilla aromas.


 

The Ageing


The freshly distilled, transparent and crystalline spirit is immediately aged in 450 litre casks, made of  oak from the nearby forests of Limousin and Monlezun. Each cask has different characteristics and depending on the type of oak used, provides the liquid with its various tannin hues and woody aromas. It takes a few more years before the spirit acquires its typical amber colour and subtle tannin flavours.

The ageing is carried out in the ancient cellars, built in 1851, where approximately 10% of the entire aged Armagnac stock of the region, rests and ages in complete silence.


The Blending


When the eau-de-vie reaches the desired age, it is successively blended with others of different origins (selected by grape, age, and distillation method), giving life to a cuvée or “assemblage” that perfectly reflects the Maison’s style.

Only at this time the cuvée takes the name of Grand Armagnac at Maison Janneau.


Blending is a delicate art based on experience and skill passed down through the generations of Cellar Masters who assess the characteristics not only by taste, but by smell, aroma and colour as well.  Each Maison, including Janneau, has its own secrets, just like a recipe, determining its complex style.

As soon as the blending operations are over the Armagnac is stored for six months, in large vats of 18.000 litres called “foudres”, in order to reach a full level of homogeneity before going to bottling.