Armagnac AOP is believed to be the oldest grape eau de vie in the world
The vines in the Gers date back at least 1,000, if not 2,000 years, but until the Middle Ages the 10° white wine they produced had the reputation of barely being able to travel across the table, let alone to other parts of France. The main variety of grape, Folle Blanche, was nicknamed Picquepoul, ‘tingle-lips’, for the extremely dry, acidic sensation it gave the unwary.
Turning tingle-lips into a fine amber brandy was an idea introduced in 1285 by Arnaud de Villeneuve, a medical student at the University of Salerno, who joined the University of Montpellier and went on to become the personal doctor of the first Avignon pope, Clement V of Bordeaux (whom he inadvertently killed by prescribing a plate of ground emeralds for a stomach upset).
Images by Pierre L., Pinyaevm Creative Common License