$$ — 40% ABV — ~6 years
The history of this bottle is a match made in heaven, or as close as one gets to heaven in this lifetime: southern France. Prosper Delord was one of many wandering French distillers who would travel from vineyard to vineyard offering to make brandy from excess wine. When he saw Marie Duffau and her ... gorgeous bounty, his days of wandering were at an end.
Like all Armagnacs, this is a rustic spirit that still shows a good deal of bite. Past all that, a wealth of complexity is found, mostly constructed through a shrewd choice of grapes: while ungi blanc, the brandy staple, is still in the majority, the estate's own colombard is present which gives a lovely note of basil beneath the obvious apricot and honey flavors.
Beyond that, the vineyard also buys — or more likely barters for — bacco and folle branche grapes to polish and round out the flavors. Maturation is mostly done in the standard spicy French holly oak from Limousin, but also from Gascard which is said to be spicier still.
For the price, this is an exceptionally solid product. If it's too aggressive to be a sipper for all audiences, this same aggressiveness lends it strength when used in mixed drinks or cooking. It pushes through the cream in a brandy Alexander and its fruitiness pairs splendidly in crepe Suzette. Only just outside of the budget range, if you can chase down a bottle it's easily worth the extra couple dollars — for novices and experienced drinkers both.
Delord is located in Lannepax, Bas-Armagnac, Midi-Pyrénées in southwestern France. Established in 1925 by Prosper Delord and Marie Duffau, it remains an independent distiller.