Round 1 of VSOP Armagnac. Why? Well, checking my inventory I noticed that I have 3 different bottles of VSOPs so why not? They’re similarly priced and of the same style and age, so let’s get to it! (I reviewed Saint-Vivant by itself earlier this week here.)
1) Saint Vivant VSOP – 40% ABV – 750ml, (Condom, Gers, France), $60 CAD @ BC Liquor Stores
- first distilled in 1559 by nobleman Saint Vivant de la Salle.
- (I think) it’s in the Armagnac-Ténarèze terrior, one of three terriors in which Armagnac may only be produced.
- aged at least 5 years (VSOP designation, wiki)
2) Tariquet – 40% ABV – 750ml, (Eauze, Gers, France), $52 CAD @ Aristocrat Liq 82nd (Edm)
- Château du Tariquet, since 1683 (according to the box)
- distilled from 60% Ugni Blanc, 40% Baco grapes, in the Bas-Armagnac terrior.
- aged for at least 7 YEARS
Nose: Saint-Vivant is half alcohol, and half flavour aromas consisting of vanilla, oak, caramel, and a bit of toast. Tariquet is much, MUCH gentler on the nose, with about 1/3 less alcohol nasal burn. Its profile consists of more caramel than vanilla, and lemon curd. Hands down the winner is Tariquet.
Taste & Texture: Having reviewed St-Vivant earlier, I was really looking forward to trying Tariquet. Tasting St-Vivant again brought back the overwhelming alcohol detection up front, bold in-your-face aggressive vanilla-caramel, and licorice-warm long finish with spice and burn. Tariquet, you are so much smoother. You taste floral up front, like chamomile and lemon, with gingerbread-caramel-vanilla-oak dominating the mids, finishing with spiced numbness. The choice is an easy one, Tariquet you win.
- Tariquet exhibits a slightly darker golden brown hue than Saint-Vivant
- Saint-Vivant may have bolder flavours, but it gets muddled up by the overwhelming alcohol jaggedness also in there.
- Tariquet comes in a (giftable) box. Otherwise it’s just another thing to recycle.
- Bottom line: Saint-Vivant is a notch BELOW my enjoyability threshold, whereas TARIQUET is just ABOVE my enjoyability threshold. I’m curious to try an XO Armagnac next.
WINNER = Tariquet VSOP (Round 1 Champ)