John, this French source: http://loujanbasarmagnac.com/guide.html
, confirms that Armagnac is aged initially in new barrels which are toasted (not charred). The level of toast is not mentioned and it may well be, or for certain producers, a heavy toast. But the barrels are not charred as in U.S. whiskey production, I understand. The barrel pictured in the image looks to be spanking new.
However, as the link recounts, the brandy is transferred to more "neutral" (i.e., reused) barrels after an initial period, and I have read this can be two years. This is to ensure the taste is not swamped by a tannic, sappy flavor.
I find Armagnac quite different to any bourbon whiskey. The grape flavours, added to the flavours peculiar to French forest wood, result in a very different drink. Armagnac is a good value as compared to Cognac and I prefer it to Cognac's intensely perfumed taste.