In a region better known for its eaux-de-vie than for its wines, one family, over a period of 100 years, has succeeded from one generation to the next without missing a beat. In fact, the Artaud-Grassa family have given free rein to their passion for the vine with an imagination and boldness that infuses their signature fresh and fruity white wines. We are in Eauze in the Bas-Armagnac region, and Tariquet is an estate forming part of the Côtes de Gascogne, an indication géographique protégée.
In 1912, Pierre Artaud, who had made his fortune in the United States in an odd profession (as a bear tamer), returned to France and bought the Chateau du Tariquet. For over 200 years the chateau has produced Bas-Armagnac. These are brandies distilled from white wines. First made in the Middle Ages, Armagnac was considered a medicine due to its healing properties! Only much later would it evolve to become a spirit favored for its sophisticated taste. The name derives from three regions: Haut-Armagnac, Ténarèze, and Bas-Armagnac. Pierre Artaud had laid his hands on a national treasure. Ten years after the chateau’s acquisition, his son Jean-Pierre, living in America, returned to France to purchase all of the property shares in order to consolidate ownership of the property within the family. He returned home for good in 1925, the year his daughter, Hélène, was born. Hélène would marry Pierre Grassa in 1946, and they would go on to create Bas-Armagnacs on their 50 hectare property, along with four children, Maïté, Christiane, Françoise and Yves. A solid clan emboldened by a strong family spirit.
1982 marked a turning point for the family with the launch of a fresh and fruity white wine. Le Classic, comprised of 100% Ugni Blanc, a grape local to Armagnac, was an instant hit. Exported to the United States and England, it would claim white wine of the year status in 1987; today it is produced from Ugni Blanc and Colombard. This was only the first of their creative blends: the wine has not stood still; its signature continuing to evolve. As for the estate, it has continued to expand employing new vines and new varietals. In fact, atypically, success derived from the planting of varieties that were not favored in the region: Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Chenin. In 1990, two smooth wines based on small and large Manseng grape varietals were created: Les Premières Grives, and Dernières Grives. Once again, Grassa hit the nail on the head with his creativity and intuition regarding consumer taste. In 2005, Yves’ two sons, Armin and Rémy, joined the family enterprise and now make up the fourth generation. And the adventure continues, with now over 900 hectares, of which a hundred or so continue to be dedicated to the production of 120,000 bottles of Bas-Armagnac, and the rest to cultivating 8,000,000 bottles of white wine, each retaining the grape’s bold aroma. “A wine that elicits the infinite pleasure of biting into a grape” is the passion and desire of Yves Grassa.
DOMAINE TARIQUET, tariquet.com