Tuesday, January 18, 2011; 11:45 AM
On local shelves
At the VSOP and XO/Hors d'Age level, Armagnac often offers better brandy value than cognac. Here are some available locally:
- Chateau de Laubade VSOP, $40.
Warm and buttery, with burnt sugar, cocoa and raisins. If you're willing to splurge, the Laubade XO is exceptional.
- Tariquet VSOP, $45
Elegant, smooth, with butterscotch, prunes and mint. A great introduction to fine brandy.
- Castarede VSOP, $50
Castarede uses no less than 10-year-old brandies for its VSOP; other producers' usually are between four and nine years old. For a real splurge, look for some of Castarede's vintages, particularly 1974, 1979 or 1980.
- Chateau du Busca Hors d'Age, $80
From Tenareze, not Bas Armagnac, which means it's more muscular, meatier, with bolder fragrances, spices, baked fruit and tobacco.