Aging a beverage is about finding a precise point of balance. Alcohol, tannins, aroma. Each element must support the others as the wood and the fruit interact. This is true with wine, with whiskey, and with that most elegant of spirits, the eau de vie known as Armagnac.
Francis Darroze began traveling the vineyards of the Armagnac region, in southwestern France, back in the 1970s, following his nose to find those grower-producers with the purest holdings, and buying up stock to then age the spirits to perfection over the course of 10, 20, sometimes up to 60 years. He quickly focused his attention on the sub-region of Bas-Armagnac, where the soils and the traditions come together to produce a spirit of the highest aging potential.
At a time when Armagnac had only a tiny following outside the most prestigious restaurant circles, Darroze had a vision of bringing the work of the smallest and most dedicated producers to far flung corners of the globe, keeping the integrity of their labors intact.
We recently brought in a collection of their single-producer, vintage dated Armagnacs: 1975, 1985 and 1989. As well as a collection of their blended Armagnacs: aged a minimum of 8, 12 and 20 years, respectively.
The vintage stuff is insanely good. Like, the taste experience of a lifetime good. Try to cast a 1985 Darroze Bas-Armagnac in a supporting role at dinner. Just try. It will, without effort, upstage your entire event. No one will want to walk away from it. The only time I've encountered one myself, I left the place giggling ridiculously, and I basically haven't stopped since.
The trouble is, the blended stuff is incredible too. The 8-yo bottling has this textural, bright fruitiness to it that sings with youth and delight. The 12-yo gets a little spicier, and the tannins feel a little softer, and there's a first hint of maturity. The 20-yo, which has a dark, blissful chocolate quality, nutty and spicy, soft, has reached a new level of integration between influence and personality.
These are special bottles. Truly. Decades of hard work and collaboration, centuries of knowledge and tradition, the twin peaks of ruggedness and refinement, all come together into a singular experience. No spirit is more essential, more essentially now, than the Armagnacs of Darroze.
Darroze Bas-Armagnac "Les Grands Assemlages" (blends)
8 years old - $80 - 3 bottles in stock
12 years old - $102 - 3 bottles in stock
20 years old - $136 - 3 bottles in stock
Darroze Bas-Armagnac Vintage Dated
1989 Domaine de Martin - $216 - 2 bottles in stock
1985 Domaine de Bertruc - $244 - 2 bottles in stock
1975 Domaine de Gillet - $307 - 1 bottle in stock