Sauternes and Armagnac Vs. Cognac

By Justin Hall, Sommelier
darroze-armagnacA guest at Bourbon Steak recently asked me whether or not I prefer cognacs to Sauternes and armagnac. It was definitely a question that gave me pause as I find that cognacs and Sauternes are completely different from each other, except that a lot of people prefer to drink both after dinner to accompany a dessert.

Sauternes is a sweet and absurdly incredible wine – with the Chateau d’Yquem being the undisputed most rare and finest. If making wine in general is a complicated process – making Sauternes is certifiable. Sauternes can age 20 to 40 years easy. The oldest I have tasted is 1853. It was very, very fresh.

At Bourbon Steak, we serve several Sauternes including Chateau d’Yquem. We even feature Château Climens ($22) and Suduiraut ($32) by the glass.

On the other hand, cognac and armagnac are both made from grapes and undergo a similar distillation process. While it is not far from cognac geographically, armagnac is quite different in style. Armagnac is made from a different grape for the most part (Folle Blanche) and is typically aged in a coarse, black oak. It is also distilled in various ways, whereas cognac is more restricted in exactly how it is produced.

Personally, I favor a good armagnac like a Darroze,  Larressingle and Château Laubade, which can be found at Bourbon Steak. The flavors are much more interesting, spicy and smooth. Armagnacs are normally a little paler in color than a cognac, but more authentic. All in all, we sell more Sauternes and armagnac than cognac because they are more palatable, plus often more affordable.

BOURBON STEAK is located in the legendary Turnberry Isle Miami resort at 19999 West Country Club Drive in Aventura. This award-winning Michael Mina restaurant is the four-time recipient of Wine Spectator’s “Best of Award of Excellence” and is celebrating the popular Miami Spice Restaurant Month promotion with a $35 three-course menu through September 30, 2012. BOURBON STEAK is open daily for dinner and valet parking is complimentary.
For reservations, call (786) 279-6600 or visit

About Justin Hall
During Justin Hall’s celebrated career, the 34-year-old wine director of Bourbon Steak has had the opportunity to dine with Robert Mondavi; work in the kitchen alongside some of the most notable chefs in the world including Thomas Keller, Ferran Adrià and Susur Lee; in addition to contributing tasting notes for two of Charlie Trotter’s cookbooks. When not working, Justin enjoys traveling to some of the world’s premier wineries in discovery of the finest selections to bring to the dinner table, and is studying for his master sommelier exam this summer.

Sauternes and Armagnac Vs. Cognac