The Armagnac Climate
When we talk of the climate of any given area, we are referring to the usual condition of the temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind, rainfall and other meteorological elements in an area of the Earth’s surface for a long time. Generally, these measures are taken from an average over about thirty years.
The climate of any particular place is influenced by a host of interacting factors including latitude, elevation, nearby water, ocean currents, topography vegetation and prevailing winds.
In Armagnac, it is quite difficult to measure one specific climate for the region when we consider its location in the southwestern corner of France between the Atlantic Ocean (oceanic), Mediterranean sea (continental) and the Pyrenees mountains, each that have their own climatic conditions. The Pyrenees have a protecting influence as does the Landes forest, the largest manmade woodland (predominantly maritime pines) in western Europe covering 10 000 km2. It was planted in the 18th century mostly to halt erosion, drain the wetlands and cleanse the soil.
There are regional winds such as the blustery and sometimes powerful Autan wind (often an extension of the strong and regular Marine wind that hits the south east coast coming off the Mediterranean). The Autan blows up across the region from the south east where it is pushed up through the valleys as it circumvents the Pyrenees and the Black Mountains. There are two types of Autan wind, the most common is the Autan blanc (white Autan), a dry wind associated with good weather that can blow for up to a week. The Autan noir (black) is rarer and generally a hot wind that announces rain and storms. The locals know these winds well and the saying goes that once the Autan stops, it will rain. One of many old proverbs “Vent d’Autan, Pluie demain” (“Autan wind today, rain tomorrow”)
In fact, the Armagnac region as a whole benefits from microclimate conditions due to all three of these influences and will depend on what part of the region you are in. In a nutshell, the climate is temperate and gentle. The humid oceanic influence reduced by the
Landes forest is particularly noticeable in the west of the Appellation. To the east, it is the Mediterranean climate that has an impact with the southerly winds.
As far as rainfall is concerned, the western parts of the appellation will evidently see more rain with around 900mm per year, as opposed to about 600mm per year in the far eastern side.