What is a VSOP ?
Very Superior Old Pale (*): Very superior quality, old and pale. This is the precise translation for this category hailing from traditional Anglo-Saxon traders.
French regulations stipulate that a VSOP Armagnac is made from a blend of eaux-de-vie of which the youngest has been aged for at least 4 years in oak. In practice, the Armagnac houses often use much older Armagnacs as they bring a richer aromatic palette.
A VSOP is a balance of cooked fruit aromas, sometimes candied, with notes of wood and spice. In the mouth, the light structure brought by the wood is mellow and the eau-de-vie already displays great length.
A VSOP brings all the aromatic styles to the Armagnac and is a great introductory approach to tasting Armagnac. An Armagnac that is excellent value for money, accessible and affordable.
It is also the ideal blend for drinking over ice or in cocktails; in both cases, a VSOP that is fruity with little influence of wood is perfect.
For gourmet pairings, the fruity style of this blend and its strength are perfect when slightly chilled and served with foie gras, preferably pan-fried to bring out the contradictions that give richness to this match: the dryness of the alcohol compared to the oiliness of the foie, the cold of the Armagnac as opposed to the hot dish. A delicacy for the tastebuds!
A VSOP is also a perfect match for blue veined cheeses (Fourme, Roquefort).
(*)The term Very Special Old Pale is sometimes used, though this is not correct. In jazz terminology VSOP is the Quintet formed by Herbie Hancock at the end of the 70s in homage to Miles Davis. Or if you prefer to star gaze, VSOP can also mean Variations Séculaires des Orbites Planétaires, a French planetary and mathematical theory that computes the position of the planets and their orbital elements. Lastly and closer to home… "Versez Sans Oublier Personne" ! (Pour without forgetting anyone!).