It was in 1974 that Francis Darroze started his business as a trader and producer of vintage Bas-Armagnacs. For this he relied on years of experience, tasting, and visits to the ageing cellars of Bas-Armagnac, the sub-region of Armagnac where the most rich, complex and interesting spirits are produced.
The initial idea was simple: to create awareness of a region and its extraordinarily varied wine-producing soils, rich and marked by history, while respecting the originality and typical nature of each estate. Since then he has intensified his search for the best vineyards, the best soils of Bas-Armagnac. He rapidly acquired a national and international reputation for quality and integrity: He doesn’t add any softened water or petites eaux to bring it to the necessary degree for sale; the Armagnacs of Francis Darroze are reduced naturally through simple evaporation of the alcohol over years of ageing. (Pierre Casamayor, Revue des vins de France, October 1987). Francis shares his values with those close to him and Marc, his son, rapidly developed the same passion and commitment. They travel through the vineyards and cellars of the Gers and the Landes together, the one providing the experience, the other youth and enthusiasm.
In the area which used to be called ‘Grand Bas-Armagnac’, Darroze focus their determination to discover and hopefully acquire yet another small quantity (a cask here, a demi-john there) of the characterful Armagnacs so typical of the region.
All the Armagnacs age in their own barrels. To ensure that they retain their true character in the glass, they have never been, and will never be, blended. In addition, no caramel or any other colouring agents are ever added to the pure eaux-de-vie.
In the Armagnac region, when it is decided to sell a product under its original vintage, the law imposes a minimum ageing period of 10 years in oak vats. The desired balance between flavour, tannin and alcohol is usually reached after around 15 years. Darroze’s entire stock of Bas-Armagnac is kept in wood barrels. Only upon receipt of orders do they bottle them. This prolongs the ageing process as much as possible.
Darroze Armagnacs are served at all the three-star Michelin restaurants in France, as well as many other famous restaurants across the country. In their home country their reputation as the ne plus ultras of Armagnac is unquestioned.
Nose: Elegant, with dried papaya sweetness, fruity toffee, wax polish, freshly cut leather, marzipan hints and blanched almonds.
Palate: Big and fruity to start – sweet apples, both stewed and freshly sliced, sultanas and raisin. Gentle spice sits behind that, with floral hints, wax polish and some dark chocolate.
Finish: Lots of dry spices – ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace – almost garam-masala-like. Fruitiness appears and lingers.