At Argonaut, they believe California brandy is ready to rank alongside the world’s most acclaimed spirits. Exceptional brandy starts with exceptional grapes. They source from their own vineyards and from growers they've worked with for generations. They use 80-plus years of California vineyard expertise to pick grapes at their optimal ripeness for distillation with the ideal balance of acid and sugars for peak brandy flavors. Argonaut is the rare brandy that combines both Alembic and Coffey distilling. They use 20 copper, Alembic pot stills made by renowned manufacturer Robert Prulho of Cognac, France. The centuries-old method of double distillation in an Alembic pot still is a more labor intensive process than distillation in a continuous still, but it’s one that produces spirits of exceptional smoothness and balance. Alembic pot distilled brandies are prized for their roundness on the palate and layered aromatic expression. They also use Coffey stills which allow to distill very quickly after fermentation to capture the freshest character of the wine. The Coffey distillation allows them to zero in on the notes and peak fruit flavors. The Alembic gives a luscious mouthfeel and balance. The resulting marriage of these two different distillates is a fuller, very complex and balanced brandy. The Head Distiller Rita Hansen blends from more than 100 premium brandy lots, selecting an array of ages, grape varieties, barrel sources and distillations to create the depth, complex characteristics and unique flavors in the brandies.
Taking its name from the Dutch term, brandewijn, for burnt or cooked wine, in the broadest sense of the term, Brandy is any liquor made from the distillation of fruit wine. Though any kind of fruit may be used, wine grapes are the most common. Clear Brandy, commonly referred to as Eau de Vie, is unaged and bottled directly after distillation. Finer grape-based Brandies are often aged in oak barrels for anywhere from two years (VS) to six years (XO) or longer, gradually gaining color and complexity as they interact with the wood.