photo from vendor’s website

For my birthday, a friend sent me a bottle of the finest Armagnac I’ve ever tasted: a 1980 Baron de Lustrac in a fancy wooden box (dovetails and everything, with nifty little brass hinges and catch).

Admittedly, I’ve only sampled half a dozen different Armagnacs (it’s more difficult to find in restaurants than Cognac–mostly I come across Larressingle and Darroze, both good) but this one floats above them all like a cirrus cloud. It has a fabulous combination of complexity and clarity (it’s rich but light, warm but whippy), one I’ve never encountered before. It was a fine, fine coda to a delicious meal last night (butternut squash soup with cream and chives, lamb stew with caramelised pearl onions and baby carrots, apple and berry crumble with cream–and wine of course, lots of wine, plus conversation about publishing).

I am smiling (and, y’know, very slightly hung over–but mostly smiling).