In 1990 Claire Montesquiou returned to her family tradition of Armagnac distillation, one that began in 900 AD, but had stalled in the 1960s with a sale to Pernod Richard. She and her husband purchased the small Domaine d’Esperance estate, located on the hillside of Gascony’s renowned Bas-Armagnac area. Of the 30 hectares of vines, about 8 are dedicated to making Armagnac – growing Baco 22 A and Folle Blanche. The rest is used to produce table wine, which supports the business as their Armagnac ages. The estate uses 2 small stills. The first is over a hundred years old, the second belongs to the traveling distiller Pierre Machalovsky, who lends the still to the estate. Distillation is slow – about 4 casks of 420 liters per every 24 hours. The estate distills only about for about a week per year, due to its size. Baco 22 A and Folle Blanche are distilled and aged separately. When the Armagnac needs to be proofed down, distilled water is added little by little, at least 6 months before bottling. The family uses local Gascon Oak casks, toasted to a medium level and produced about 15km from the estate, by one of the last independent coopers in the area. The estate uses two cellars – one dating back to the 17th century, and second, more modern cellar, built in 2003 – which hold about 240 casks.
A 2005 AOC decree defines Blanche d’Armagnac as being produced only in Armagnac, from parcels of vines already identified, and in the allowed Armagnac stills. Domaine d’Esperance Blanche Armagnac is distilled and stored in stainless steel tanks. It is bottled to order, and thus rests in the tanks for longer, than mandatory 3 months required for designation, allowing the water to marry the distillate and settle down. Bottled at 42% alc/vol.
Drink like a fruit eaux de vie, or slightly chilled.