Armagnac is a protected designation of origin (AOC - Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) in France and describes an area in the Gascone region of southwestern France. It lies between the Garonne to the north, the Atlantic to the west and the Pyrenees to the south. The nearest major cities are Toulouse to the east and Bordeaux to the north.
The landscape is characterized by wine, grain, cattle and goose farming and of course by countless small towns and farms in the classic style of the French south. Compared to Cognac, however, winegrowing in Armagnac is much less dominant, so that the different agricultural branches all have their relevance. Especially in Haut Armagnac one notices that Armagnac production was practically abandoned there after the phylloxera plague in the 19th century and that one hardly sees any wine anymore.
In total, Armagnac is around 590,000ha in size. However, currently only 5,513ha of vines may be used for Armagnac. The area actually used is even smaller, since the area is shared with the Côtes de Gascogne wines, Floc de Gascogne (a local fortified wine) and other products. Thus, only 2,238ha are available for Armagnac.
These are distributed among the three sub-regions as follows:
- Bas Armagnac: 1,665ha (74.4%)
- Armagnac-Ténarèze: 542ha (24.2%)
- Upper Armagnac: 31ha (1.4%)
AOC and BNIA
The AOC is managed and protected by the Bureau National Interprofessionnel de l'Armagnac, BNIA for short. The following topics are regulated in the AOC document:
- Cultivation areas and sub-regions
- grape varieties
- Management and care of the vineyards (plant density, distance between the vines, pruning, etc.)
- winemaking and fermentation
- distillation methods
Details on these topics can be found in the Crafting section.