Darroze – armagnac tasting
Life gets weird sometimes. I had the pleasure of exchanging a few words with Marc Darroze, the producer and person of the world of armagnacs, before I even tried his products. Several months have passed and I am in touch with Darroze again. This time, however, it is about the armagnacs themselves, which is what is most important in my adventure.
As it happens in the world of armagnacs, the Darroze brand is a family enterprise. This time the story began in the Darroze family restaurant, when from the 1930s the father of Francis Darroze started serving the hidden treasures of Gascony. Francis Darroze concentrated even more on searching for local distilleries, bringing wonderful armagnacs to light from small cellars. His son, Marc, whom we have already met (here: https://barmaniac.eu/en/marc-darroze-master-look-on-armagnac/) took over the business from his father, raising skills of discovering flavors to the level of art.
Marc Darroze currently offers 4 types of products:
Biologic – organic armagnacs, mainly produced from the Folle Blanche grape variety;
Les Grands Assemblages – outstanding blends, mixed armagnacs with age markings; 8; 12; 20; 30; 40; 50 and 60 years old;
Luxe Gascon – unique editions of the oldest armagnacs available to Marc Darroze;
The Unique Collection: vintage editions of local producers, selected and bottled, often exclusively by Darroze.
This time I managed to hunt 8-year, 20 and 50-year-old Les Grands Assemblages bottles (all with 43% ABV) and a bottle from The Unique Collection 1998 series from the De Martin property.
Age gradation seems reasonable, so I start all the fun with the youngest Les Grands Assemblages armagnac in the 8-year-old version:
Nose: light, fresh, noticeable vines, fresh plums, flowers (I still have a problem with the type of flowers … I think I have to make an appointment with a florist), a bit of thyme and citrus.
Mouth: nothing complex, slightly alcoholic, peppery, aroma of white wine, plums and flowers.
Finish: quite long for such a young armagnac, definitely peppery, delicately black tea.
Secondly, Les Grands Assemblages 20-year old version:
Nose: vanilla, fudge candies, butter cookies, fresh apricots, peaches and plums.
Lips: dessert, oily, buttery, vanilla, yeast dough, apple pie and toffee.
Finish: medium long, bittersweet, light tannins, dried apricots.
This is where it’s fun to clash two bottles of the same age. The 1998 armagnac from the De Martin property, bottled in 2018 with a 48.7% ABV, competes with mixed armagnac:
Nose: toffee, very distinct orange marmalade, canned peaches, biscuits and licorice.
Mouth: very intense flavor, an explosion of toffee, pepper, slightly floral, in the background citrus and that orange jam …
Finish: long, tannins, prunes, dates, pepper.
At first I thought that blended armagnac was good enough to stand up to its opponent. However, the second competitor quickly deprived me of my illusions and surprised me positively. It is better in every aspect. Thus, I discovered a gem from a small, 3.5 hectare De Martin estate.
Finally, the 50-year-old Les Grands Assemblages armagnac:
Nose: less volatile than its predecessors, sweet and deep, wood, cocoa.
Mouth: surprised with sweetness, clear aroma of leather, dried figs, cocoa, cedar wood, almonds.
Finish: long, that’s what I was hoping for and that’s exactly what I got, wood, leather, tobacco and pleasant, delicate tannins.
To sum up, the oldest of the tested armagnacs was completely different from the rest, but also the most satisfying for me.
The Darroze brand is one of the most recognizable companies from Gascony. I heard an opinion that they have the best selection of vintage armagnacs in general. The bottles are elegant with rather strict but tasteful labels. Contents … In terms of what I have tried so far, these are actually top quality products. The manufacturer’s website is also great https://www.darroze-armagnacs.com/en/. For me, the information given in English is a big plus as I don’t speak French. As a rule, I noticed that the producers of armagnacs avoid the language of their close brothers from The United Kingdom 🙂
After a long break, a new position finally appears on my Warsaw armagnac map. This time, before the restaurants and bars were closed due to the pandemic, I managed to reach Mielżyński Wines Spirits Specialties. Nice place crammed with rich looking people, a bit out of my vibe. However, it is the only distributor of Darroze armagnacs in Poland.