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1988 L'Encantada 30 Year Old "Domaine Le Frêche #17" Bas-Armagnac (750ml) (Elsewhere $200)

SKU #1443828

The wonderful and mysterious "Domaine Le Frêche" is becoming, much like Encantada's other famous estate Lous Pibous, quite well-regarded. Also like Lous Pibous, Le Frêche is not the name of the domaine itself, but a place holder used by the bottlers. Because of this secrecy there's much speculation regarding the source of the spirit. Unfortunately for those seeking truth there are easily 10+ excellent producers in the little village, so take a guess. The most famous is the incredible Boingniere, whose Armagnacs are extremely sought-after and expensive. I'm certain that this Armagnac doesn't come from that special estate, but the village itself is considered somewhat blessed in terms of terroir. I have my suspicions about the source of this incredible brandy, but I won't divulge my hunches here. What we do know is that this is 100% Baco aged in new oak for over 30 years. Bottled at full strength with no additions or adulterations of any kind. Deep, dense and full of savory complexity, it doesn't have the powerful tannins of the LP, but it does have a sauvage quality that's screams OLD SCHOOL Armagnac. This rusticity is coupled with deep dense fruit, wild exotic spices and a rich nutty finish. There's little else on the market that can match this special barrel. Our last Le Frêche sold out quickly, so we purchased as much as Encantada would let us have, nonetheless you'll have to act quickly to not miss this wonderful barrel. (David OG, K&L Spirits Buyer)

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Product Reviews:

By: Diana Turk | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/21/2020 | Send Email
Wow. There is a lot going on with Le Frêche #17, with lively cinnamon spice underscored by leather notes on the nose and velvety texture and red berry fruit through the palate, to a nutty finish that never seems to end. Hints of orange and ginger come through as well. This packs a punch but is somehow easy drinking, inexplicably both elegant and rustic, and comes alive with a bit of water. While the rest of us spent 1988 dancing to Milli Vanilli, these “mystery” producers were making magic. Don’t miss this classic yet extraordinary Armagnac.

By: Neal Fischer | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/16/2020 | Send Email
What a beauty. Orchard fruit and winter spices hang out neck-and-neck in the nose. Peach and dried apricot predominate with cinnamon stick and candied ginger brightening the brandy considerably. Cedar, cigar box, and earthiness come through as well. The fruits get more concentrated on the palate and the spices heat up without becoming overbearing. As the spices soften into the finish there's a wonderful nuttiness that comes out and rolls into the long finish. A very classic Armagnac.

By: Will Blakely | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/16/2020 | Send Email
This is one of the most pretty and nuanced Armagnacs I have had the great pleasure to taste. It takes a deft hand to so perfectly combine power and grace, and I still have a hard time wrapping my head around it. Mandarin orange, berries & cream, exotic woods and fresh tobacco float out of the glass, and the palate delivers those same flavors on a bed of fresh red berries, cola nut and mocha. The finish here is insanely long and displays tremendous finesse, with coriander, cardamom and cinnamon gently reaching the far reaches of the palate. A touch of water creates an explosion of strawberries and cranberries, soft and bright, combined with peach and more spice. I just can't seem to get enough of this one.

By: Stefanie Juelsgaard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/16/2020 | Send Email
I think this bottling of Le Freche is what makes a hallmark Armagnac and what distinguishes it so independently from Cognac. There are no highly sculpted edges on this one. There is spice and robustness, with more of a fruit profile than the Lous Pibous. The wood tannins are there, but seem very subtle for an Armagnac with 30 years of oak aging. Lightly sweet, but not sticky or crazy rich.

By: Jeffrey Jones | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 1/16/2020 | Send Email
This is my favorite of the L'Encantada Armagnacs currently in stock. The nose has beautiful caramel notes.In the mouth it is concentrated and full bodied, delicious and round with rich caramel and fruit flavors and a pronounced under tone of spice. There is a long finish.

By: David Othenin-Girard | K&L Staff Member | Review Date: 12/13/2019 | Send Email
The awesome barrels coming out of Le Freche remind me so much of being in Armagnac it's scary. One whiff and we're transported straight to the dark cold chai covered in black mold and cobwebs. In lots of ways this product is quintessential Baco for me. This often maligned grape is capable of making serious brandy, but it can highlight some of the rustic qualities that Armagnac is known for. I personally drink Armagnac because I love those intense flavors that just simply don't exist in any other brandy. Luckily the French just don't seem to be drinking this stuff or we'd have no Armagnac to sell you, since overall production is minuscule and the French seem to prefer the softer more modern style. This is not that. The nose is freshly tanned hide, orris root, the darkest cocoa, grilled stone fruit, freshly turned soil, lacquer, fancy wood and black currents. As it opens the leather and the sweet cooked fruit take center stage. The palate is extremely forgiving after tasting the Lous Pibous, but it stands firm in its own right. Fancy freshly dried raisins and cranberries, fresh grated nutmeg, clove, Mexican hot chocolate, earthy rustic wood - very forgiving and open despite the high proof. Dark and brooding, but supple and round. It's so balanced and yet so intense. With a little water, an explosion of red fruits. Pure currants and cinnamon. I can't figure out how they do it. I do think I know who made this, but I won't blow up Encantada's spot publicly. Here I wouldn't add water, but some of my colleagues much preferred it with a drop. I think this is the best Le Freche I've had yet.

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