At 40 years, the Armagnac’s style is definitely apparent. The quality of the oak used is very important, as the right use of a quality barrel will bring complexity and finesse to the Armagnac; elements that can be judged and appreciated after 40 years in contact with the wood. The diversity in crus, vintages, grape varieties and styles has allowed Marc Darroze to work on his “Les Grands Assemblages” (The Great Blends), chosen for their complementary characteristics, the selected Armagnacs in each bottling are of different ages. After over four decades in 400-litre barrels, expect this to have evolved layers of sweet spices, candied fruits, rancio and super soft, round tannins.
Francis and Marc Darroze roamed the estates on the best terroirs, that of the Grand Bas Armagnac and its tawny sands, to select, raise and bottle the most beautiful discoveries. Around 30 estates contribute to this extraordinary collection that complete and perfect their ageing in the Roquefort and Labastide d’Armagnac cellars. Rare and ancient barrels, where the eaux-de-vies leave the alembic from a small property, distilled by a reputed mobile distiller and that demand several decades of subtle and careful ageing in oak barrels for 15 to 50 years in order to express the qualities of the place and the vintage. No other Armagnac house can offer such diversity, and just from the fairly small area of Grand Bas Armagnac. The typical Armagnac farmer raises all the possible farm animals fed by many different crops plus a small vineyard the part production of which is distilled every year and aged in one or more barrels, which constitute the savings of the farm. A sick bull or a dying horse or tractor are repaired or replaced by the sale of a barrel. Multiply by the number of farms and years and you have the variety of the Darroze collection, so differentiated because each farm is unique. Add to this no reduction, by water, only through ageing, no caramel colouring, the date of distillation and the date of bottling, because all that matters is the time spent in the barrel. Once in the glass, nothing changes, nothing improves. An 1890 Armagnac bottled in 1900, is no better than 2007 bottled in 2017, but collectors do not want you to know!