Château de Hontambère is located in Armagnac Ténarèze and is a very young winery by the standards of the region. There are no 5 generations full of family tradition here, but full focus on Armagnac, concentrated know-how and passion! At Hontambère only Armagnac is produced and not just a little. The complete winery has an area of 130 hectares, of which the vineyards are about 42 hectares. For Armagnac, a stately size, which is also reflected in the annual production volume. Depending on the harvest, around 60 to 80 barrels of Armagnac are produced each year.
The first vintage was produced in 2008 and made exclusively from Colombard grapes. Ugni Blanc was added in 2010, Baco in 2011 and Folle Blanche in 2014. All four important grape varieties are therefore grown in our own vineyards around the village of Castelnau-d'Auzan.
Cindy Crighton is the managing director of Hontambère and, together with oenologist, distiller and cellar master Sylvain Lafargue, directs the production of Armagnac. The sale of Armagnac is currently focused on the USA, which is why the domaine is relatively unknown in Europe. In the past, the portfolio was limited to a cask strength XO and VSOP blend. With the launch of Hontambère in Germany, we, together with Cindy and Sylbain, have also selected Hontambère vintage Armagnac for a release for the first time. Of course, these are still much younger than you are used to from most Armagnac, but they already show a fantastic quality and promise great drinking pleasure.
Rare Armagnac Collection
Lovers of old bourbon and rye whiskeys have known Hontambère primarily through the Rare Armagnac Collection, in which small quantities of purchased Armagnac are published. Above all, the barrels of the closed Domaine Pouchegu already have an almost legendary status. The Grape of the Art 1985, which was released in February 2023, also came from Pouchegu's stock and is considered by many to be the best Grape of the Art release to date.
The harvest of the grapes usually takes place in September/October and is carried out mechanically. The grapes are pressed with a pneumatic press and fermented with a special yeast for two weeks without filtering. The finished wine has an alcohol content between 9% and 11%.
At Hontambère, Sylvain distills the Armagnac himself - on an over 100-year-old Alambic Armagnacais. This is permanently installed and not mobile as is usually the case in Armagnac. Distillation also takes a slightly different approach: the alcohol content of the fresh distillate is between 62% and 67%, which is unusually high for Armagnac. Most domaines distil at 51% to just under 60%. One might think that the high alcohol content would lose flavor, but in the case of Hontambère, the exact opposite is the case. Aside from Séailles, no fresh Armagnac has inspired me as much as that from Hontambère. Especially since you can compare the different grape varieties directly from a producer and a growing region. The distillation takes about one to two weeks and is fired directly with gas.
The usual 420 liter French oak barrels are used to store the Armagnac. The barrels all mature as single casks, so they are not mixed within a vintage in order to preserve the identity of the individual barrels. Approximately 2% Angels Share evaporates annually during storage. The warehouse has a dry climate and is built above ground. So far, all vintages continue to mature (the oldest Rare Armagnac Collection is from 1973) in barrels and are not transferred to glass Dame Jeanne. There are also no fixed specifications or age limits from which a vintage is considered finished, but each cask is rated individually according to taste. Of course, all Armagnac are bottled without additives and reduction in cask strength.