Domaine d'Esperance 5 Year Old Bas Armagnac 750ml (Previously $55)
Marquis De Montesquiou is like the Sauza Tequila of Armagnac -- a brand that was sold to a corporate portfolio, allowing the family members to strike out on their own and create more serious, small-production spirits. Much like Guillermo Sauza created Fortaleza Tequila and continued on with the family business, Claire de Montesquiou and her husband decided to purchase a small estate named Domaine d’Esperance and follow tradition. In 1990, the couple began planting grapes in the sand-based soil of their Bas-Armagnac estate (a lovely terrain mixed with clay and iron -- perfect for Baco and Folle Blanche) and get the ball rolling. By 1995, they were distilling Armagnac again. On two small stills -- one over a hundred years old, the other from a traveling-distiller -- the Armagnacs are distilled at an extremely slow speed. They only make enough to fill about four barrels each day. Couple that with the fact that they only distill for one week per year after the wines are ready. You can do the math from there: 4 x 7 = 28 barrels filled per year. Distilled from Baco, the five year old is a soft and more gentle distillate, despite its young age. The wood is integrated and the flavors are smoother and more rounded. It's a lovely foray into the world of French spirits, beginning with flavors that are easy to understand, yet absolutely high in quality.