700 years of Armagnac – 5th part

Armagnac is both a regional product and a historical product. Historical accidents have strongly influenced its development, for better and for worse. At the time of its anniversary, when the market is groping around, Armagnac would rather need a boost to recover the panache of former days.


When Government does not help.
It is the most heavily taxed alcohol!
It is the most heavily taxed alcohol! Per bottle, taxes amount to 43% (consumption duty / National Health tax) to which you can add the B.N.I.A. subscription right. Besides, far from supporting the Armagnac specificity, the institutions tend towards standardizing and grouping through cooperatives and traders.
Thus, we can feel that the market is torn between mass marketing, probably inspired by its big brother Cognac, and former processes. Small producers struggle to keep pace with the market, seeing their old eaux-de-vie stocks as a savings product. A new car is needed? Off you go! Just sell one “pièce” (une pièce = a barrel )!
Is this the reason why the Government forces the retired producers that still have stocks but do not produce wine anymore to pay “la part des anges”?
Taxing evaporation…
Whatever the reason, we can only be deeply shocked by a tax on the natural and noble process of eau-de-vie ageing! A retired small producer can’t pay thousands of Euros of taxes on evaporation. The result is that eaux-de-vie stocks are sold hastily. This will certainly deprive us, consumers, of exquisite discoveries, in the 20 years to come.

The fight goes on.
200 out of about 800 producers bottle their eau-de-vie on their properties (i.e. 10% of the market). Most of the time, they sell less than 500 bottles per year. So, it has more to do with a market of small producers than of brands.
Some brands just try to become established on national and international levels. Some take the commercial path of mass-market cognacs, banking on development by quantity and young “millésimes”. When some vintages, scientifically renowned as being rare, are too many at the wine merchant’s, it verges on robbery … The 1945 vintage is a perfect example of it.

To be continued.

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