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A Few Good Armagnac Houses – No 1 Castarède

The firm  Castarède is naturally proud of being the oldest business in Armagnac. They were founded in 1832 by Jules Nismes at the suggestion of a young subprefect, who later became famous as the Baron Haussmann who replanned Paris for the Emperor Napoleon III. The firm was sited at the furthest point  to which the River Baise is navigable and provides direct access to Bordeaux down the River Garonne.

The firm is still owned by the Castarède family, who are also proprietors of the picturesque Château de Maniban at Mauléon d’Armagnac. The Maniban family were members of the legal aristocracy, the noblesse de la robe, who played such an important role in developing Bordeaux’s fine wine estates. They were the first to introduce armagnac to the court of Louis XV and have been associated in the past with many names of the rich and famous.

The firm is not a distiller, it buys its armagnacs exclusively from the Bas Armagnac, most of which were distilled between 1900 and 2000. They keep them in wood until they have reduced naturally to 40%, before transferring them to glass bonbonnes without additives.

Their cellars are at Pont-de-Bordes, Lavardac balancing on the side of a high ridge over the river and create a picturesque view. Florence Castarède is the charming and current family owner of the firm and she has created a range of vintages which is the mainstay of the business today. Most of her armagnacs have been distilled mid range and have flavours of crystallised fruit.