The rich golden orange hue of the 2015 Château d’Armajan des Ormes Sauternes (70% Semillon, 25% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Muscadelle) foreshadows the unctuous and highly seductive liquid that will soon dazzle the nose and fill the mouth with delight. Each plot of Château d’Armajan’s diminutive 12-acre vineyard was handpicked during 5 successive and selective harvestings, each batch pressed and vinified separately using a bladder press to enhance aroma and avoid premature oxidation before a slow fermentation, and then aged in barrels for 18 to 24 months. In the excellent 2015 vintage the result is a rich, full-bodied Château d’Armajan that features a delightful aroma of dried apricot, sweet orange peel, honey and almond blossoms. In the mouth, one feels the intensity of this young Sauternes as it explodes on the palate with a cornucopia of flavors: apricot, orange marmalade, peach, and exotic spice tones provide sensuous pleasure. Sweet but not cloying, the 2015 Château d’Armajan finishes with a burst of fresh acidity in the form of orange zest. Serve chilled (38°-40° F). Salut!
Given Sauternes’ sweet nature and the centuries old tradition in America of pairing sweet wines with dessert, one might think that the versatile 2015 Château d’Armajan des Ormes should be relegated solely to the dessert cart, but not so. In France, good Sauternes is the wine of choice with foie gras, country pâtés, smoked meats, and a host of aged full-bodied cheeses, all to which the 2015 Château d’Armajan will prove to be a noble companion. Roquefort, Stilton and other bleu cheeses all provide wonderful accompaniments to this Sauternes. Fish dishes such as Grilled Sea Bass in a saffron velouté or savory cream sauce also make splendid companions, but one should not preclude dessert as a delectable accompaniment. A simple almond cake with fresh raspberries, crème brulée, or even a more exotic dessert such a Frangipani Pistachio Tart will thrive in the company of the succulent 2015 Château d’Armajan des Ormes. But that’s not all; fine Sauternes makes a splendid aperitif, so as you like it. Bon appétit!
Château d'Armajan des Ormes is one of the oldest and most venerable wine estates in the Bordeaux appellation of Sauternes. Located in the village of Preignac, Château d'Armajan des Ormes is owned and worked assiduously by the industrious Perromat family, who are also proprietors of two outstanding Graves estates. This month, we are excited to have the opportunity to bring you the 2015 Château d'Armajan des Ormes, which is being made available in the U.S. exclusively to The International Wine of the Month Club.
As one of the Sauternes appellation’s oldest and most historical châteaux, this domain has existed for more than four hundred and fifty years and was ennobled by King Charles IX in 1565, in appreciation for a visit granted to him with his illustrious mother, Catherine de Medici.
The history of this property reads like an epic novel and encapsulates the undulating and often torturous history of France. At the time of King Charles IX’s visit, the estate and its vineyards belonged to Pierre Sauvage and were highly esteemed. Pierre’s grandson, Jacques, continued to develop the family’s estates, thanks in part to the feudal tenure he was given over Yquem, the most exquisite and expensive Sauternes. However, Château d’Armajan’s good fortune was not to last. The estate’s château was demolished in 1653 during the civil war known as the Fronde, which forced the young dauphin, the future Louis XIV, to flee Paris for Bordeaux in order to save his life. The rebuilding of Château d’Armajan as we know it today did not begin until 1663 under the guidance of the Guichaner family. Work was finally completed in 1750 by Vincent Guichaner, Lord of Armajan and son-in-law of French Enlightenment philosopher Montesquieu.
The French Revolution brought about an additional turn of events. By the time of the revolution, Château d’Armajan had been split into several property plots. It would take over a century to rekindle the Château’s past glory and revert it back to winegrowing, thanks to the determination of the Fiton family and Armand Gallice, a wine merchant who bottled his first batch of Château d’Armajan Sauternes in 1898. After Gallice’s death in 1930, the domain again fell upon hard times and was neglected until Louis Machy, a luxury leather broker, bought Armajan in 1953 and undertook with his daughter, Marguerite, and son-in-law, Michel Perromat, a massive restoration project that would last 20 years.
It was Michel Perromat who would finalize the reconstruction of Château d’Armajan’s entire enclosed vineyard by taking over nearby Château le Juge’s vines. Jacques and Guillaume Perromat, who are the 6th generation of winegrowers, now run the family estate and are responsible for the wine’s impeccable quality and recent meteoric success.
Château d’Armajan des Ormes enjoys an enviable terroir. Located in Preignac at the very heart of the Sauternes appellation, the estate is bordered to the South by the vast Landes forest and to the North by the valley of the swiftly flowing Garonne River. Clay, sand, and gravel are superimposed in layers in Preignac, which provides the ideal terroir for producing Sauternes and the much sought after Botrytis cinerea, which gives Sauternes its intensity and extraordinary flavors.
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