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    Blog

    Armagnac, the oldest ‘new kid’ on the brandy blockwith May Matta-Aliah

    France’s best kept secret no more. Meet Armagnac, the oldest ‘new kid’ on the brandy block.

    Armagnac is finally having its moment! The latest 2016 numbers from the BNIA, the Inter professional Bureau for Armagnac (http://www.armagnac.fr/en), shows the US firmly leading as the Number 1 export market for Armagnac, with sales growing 33% by volume and 19% in value. What was once France’s best kept secret is now everyone favorite new spirit discovery! Bartenders, importers, restaurants and retailers have all embraced this small region producing the world’s oldest brandy.

    With annual production still hovering around the 6 million-bottle mark, Armagnac is the original artisanal craft spirit. 20% of distillation in the region still takes place by roving distillers that criss-cross the countryside, traveling from farm to farm to distill their wines in the late fall. Maturation takes places in century-old cellars lined with 400L barrels mostly produced from the local oak. Tucked away in the dusty corners of the cellars, you will find hand-blown bottles holding vintage Armagnac, dating back to the late 19th century in some cases.

    Join May Matta-Aliah, the official BNIA Armagnac Educator who has been working with the region since 2009, for an informational webinar about Armagnac. May will provide some historical background on Armagnac then bring it to the modern day to discuss some of the trends and changes that the region has been witnessing in the last decade. Finally May will share some delicious Armagnac cocktail recipes with you to inspire you not only to enjoy the spirit neat but to have some fun mixing it up.

    Presenter: May Matta-Aliah, DWS, FWS

    May is a New York based wine educator and President of In the Grape. She is a seasoned presenter, an accredited educator, and brings over 15 years of experience and knowledge to all her work. Since 2009 May has represented Armagnac in the US as the Official Ambassador to the region.

    May is a firm believer in making wine and spirits education accessible to everyone from wine and spirits trade professionals to curious appreciators. Her experience includes a long-standing affiliation with the prestigious International Wine Center, where she has been teaching the classes of the Wine & Spirits Education Trust, to frequently sold-out consumer classes at a variety of venues around New York City.

    She has designed and taught custom courses to industry organizations and presented at large trade conferences such as Tales of the Cocktail, San Antonio Cocktail Classic, New York Wine Expo, Society of Wine Educator Annual Conference and the French Wine Society Annual Conference.

    May’s numerous accreditations include the Diploma in Wines & Spirits from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET), she is a French Wine Scholar (FWS) from the Wine Scholar Guild, as well as the Certified Wine Educator (CWE) through the Society of Wine Educators.

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    Where is Southwest France? (with map)

    Southwest France (Sud Ouest) is best known for what it isn’t. Frankly, and unfortunately, it’s not widely recognized at all. With an accompanying eye-roll, I must report that many people have asked me – quite genuinely – “where is Southwest France?”!

    Let’s get positioned on the map. Sud Ouest is the deepest rural France, la France profonde. “In terroir terms, it’s a big area and rather difficult to generalise about, but most of the high-quality vineyard zones…owe their existence to the slopes created by rivers coming down either from the Massif Central, or from the Pyrenees. The overall zone is the Aquitaine Basin, and almost all of the soils…have been developed from sedimentary rocks of various kinds, or by the action of the rivers themselves.”(1)

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    Andrew Jefford Uncorked: Reflections on a Career as a Wine Writer

    Meeting Andrew Jefford today could easily lead one to believe that he was born knowing enormous volumes of information about the wines of the world, and has always been able to explain them in the manner of a poet laureate. As the leader of a 2016 Wine Scholar Guild study tour of Southwest France, his presentation (with global parallels) to a small but diverse group of educators and wine professionals was quite natural, charming, articulate, insightful, and generous. 

    Group feedback about Andrew includes these admirable qualities: knowledgeable about local context, well prepared, flexible and adaptive, clear "voice" (speaking and writing), exceedingly patient, gifted at capturing the essence of ideas with beautiful words, an amazing ability to write great tasting notes in record time, erudite yet accessible. In short, it is a privilege to be tutored in person while traveling with Andrew Jefford.

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