Founded in 1832 under Napoleon
III, The House of Castarède
is the oldest Armagnac
house in the world, and has remained in the hands of the same family for six generations. Jean Grosperrin founded Grosperrin
, one of the last independent Cognac
houses, 160 years later in 1992. As a broker, Jean had developed an elaborate network of growers who opened their cellar doors for him and allowed him to buy some of their most precious stocks.
Both of the elixirs are now available in the U.S. from Classic & Vintage Artisanal Spirits, a collection of boutique spirits founded by Domaine Select Wine Estates
(DSWE) earlier this year (my colleague Alison Wellner wrote about their launch party
Rich, smooth and mellow, Armagnac Castarède is crafted from the best grapes of the Bas Armagnac region
and matured in cellars that are more than 100 years old. Today, Florence Castarède is responsible for this family heritage, combining know-how acquired over 175 years with new initiatives. The distillation and aging process in hand made oak barrels takes place in the Château de Maniban, situated in the heart of the Bas-Armagnac and dating back to the 16th century.
Castarède is also celebrated for its exceptional collection of vintage Armagnacs, with more than 80 authenticated vintages, the oldest dating from 1881. Vintage Armagnacs from 1893 - 1987 are available, with prices on request; the Castarède portfolio in the U.S. also consists of Armagnac Selection (SRP $64), Armagnac Réserve de la Famille, aged for over 20 years (SRP $124) and Armagnac VSOP (right), aged 10 years, (SRP $74). All are in 750 ml bottles.
Grosperrin's philosophy is to maintain small-batch integrity, without blending, leaving all varietals in individual batches in their original barrels or glass demi-johns, producing a wide array of distinctive products from all of the appellations of Cognac. The result is an impressive selection of single vintage, single barrel, and single estate Cognacs, each with a unique personality and history.
Today, the family-owned company is exclusively dedicated to the selection, aging, and distribution of rare, aged Cognac dating from 1991 all the way back to World War II, carrying all of the necessary guarantees of quality and authenticity. Classic & Vintage will import selected products from the expansive Grosperrin Portfolio at various prices; the next shipment is due to arrive in the U.S. in March.
Many people wonder about the differences between Armagnac and Cognac
. Armagnac brandy is crafted from white wines produced from white grapes with high acidity and a low alcohol content. Armagnac is distinguished by the region's sunnier climate, sandy and clay soil rich in iron and four grape varieties as opposed to Cognac's two; the main difference is in the distillation process, however: single and continuous distillation for Armagnac that gives more fragrance and flavors. You can read more here