Arton is the wine of the Musketeers. A very old wine estate replanted in 1991 by the Montal-Montesquiou family, which never ceases to innovate, to surprise by sweeping away clichés and received ideas. Audacious, curved with panache and modernity, Arton Armagnacs are like their ancestor Charles de Batz de Castelmore, known as d'Artagnan: courageous and demanding. Haut-Armagnac is not common. At an altitude of 220m (120 for Bas Armagnac), it is the most confidential terroir in Armagnac (5% of total production). The estate stretches around a splendid charterhouse and offers original visits, unpublished " Spiritourism " to understand this miraculous eau-de-vie, which is not a brandy: Armagnac is alive , vibrant and sparkling with mischief. Welcome to Château Arton, where from the soil to the bottle, passing through the vine, we cultivate excellence and purity of taste.
Photos from the report © Château Arton and Letizia cigliutti
Château Arton was born from the desire of a man and the unwavering support of his wife. In 1978, Patrick de Montal and Victoire de Montesquiou fell in love with the Domaine d'Arton, located in Lectoure in Haut-Armagnac. They leave everything to settle there. Because Patrick and Victoire grew up in the Gers, linked by this land to their illustrious ancestors. This return to the sources consecrates their love and marks a new beginning, that of a "disencumbered life" which touches on the essentials: the vine, the wine and the Armagnac. Together, they clear the domain , then in a dormant state. They rediscover its beauty, they expose it to better tame it. In 1991, the first vines were planted. This is the beginning of an exciting adventure, strewn with doubts, requiring unfailing pugnacity for these valiant artisans of nature who will be rewarded by the generosity of the land to offer grapes of miraculous quality. Because it is from the vine, from its terroir, that everything must start, Patrick de Montal is convinced of this! To make wines, but also and above all a great Armagnac, you need vigorous, serene, peaceful vines.
Château Arton produces 150,000 bottles a year, extracted from the precious grapes of the 37ha of vines. 8 grape varieties (Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Gros Manseng, Petit Manseng, Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet) are represented on the estate, including 2 specifically dedicated to the production of a very high quality Armagnac.
Château Arton is a philosophy and above all an art and a way of producing. Here, no synthetic pesticides, the vine is labeled High Environmental Value level 3 and this means that it is alive and vigorous, it is a sustainable viticulture. Among the small daily gestures and the specific care granted to it in this regard, we can cite genodics, a science which studies and applies the positive influence of musical vibration waves on plant diseases. It is a culture where human intervention is reduced to its simplest expression. The exceptional biotope of the domain requires few intrusive practices, patient observation and the constant preservation of the ecosystem punctuate the maintenance of the vine. It is a collaboration with nature, a fair and reasoned pruning, a natural regulation of the soil, by authorizing the return of a vegetal cover between the rows, to maintain the soil in good health, protected by the vegetation. No herbicides, therefore, and the only use of natural fertilizers, in the event of a problem or suspicion of disease. It is towards biodynamic viticulture (conversion initiated since 2021) that Château Arton is now heading.
The wines produced in IGP Côte de Gascogne at the Domaine d'Arton are generous, they are the expression of a know-how, of a constant attention for the vine. This know-how benefits Armagnacs , because it is the same care that is taken in the development of Armagnac. Producing this eau-de-vie, which is then aged in oak barrels to give it its characteristic matured, woody color and aromas, is an exciting process. To find out more, visit the very informative Château Arton website.
Today, Château Arton continues its adventure with Jean de Montal (the son of Patrick and Victoire), his wife Lili de Montal and Fabrice Saramon who has been supporting Patrick for 20 years and works alongside Jean to bring all his oenological know-how to the production of the Domaine d'Arton. It is a new generation that is part of the continuity of the meticulous adventure to restore its letters of nobility to the Armagnac produced in Haut-Armagnac. Indeed, the region suffered from the phylloxera crisis at the end of the 19th century. A parasite of the vine which forced the massive uprooting of it, little replanted in this terroir yet so conducive to making good wine and excellent Armagnac. Château Arton has been working boldly and constantly innovating since 1991 to bring the appellation back to life… While bringing a touch of modernity and a breath of fresh air to this living eau-de-vie that is Armagnac!
It is a long-term entrepreneurial project but so exciting that it has become a vocation in its own right. Winegrower and winegrower, professions that require enthusiasm, a certain intoxication without prejudice, with a fascination for these somewhat magical processes of vinification and distillation... Armagnac from Château Arton has received a wonderful and surprising reward: the Prix d'Excellence ( the first awarded to an Armagnac ), in the category of great French eaux-de-vie at the Concours Général Agricole organized by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2017. A real consecration that rewards hard work.
Expert in vintages and Unique Pieces, Château Arton is also the pioneering spirit of creating the youngest of the French AOCs, the Blanche Armagnac , the armagnac that does not age in barrels. Created in 1986 under the Fine Blanche® brand, Patrick de Montal broke with tradition and interrupted the classic Armagnac production process to make pure eau-de-vie that flowed from the still, a spirits per se. Distinguishing Armagnac in its raw state was a bit crazy when the world swore only by blends and old vintages. This bias still marks the singularity of Arton today: highlighting the aromatic power of vintages and young Armagnacs. This year, the estate is launching a hardseltzer (White Armagnac cocktail in a can) in collaboration with the famous mixologists Le Syndicat (in fr). Large-scale projects to democratize and open up the prospects for this drink of excellence, with in parallel a revaluation of all the labels thanks to the illustrations of the artist Elena Marchese, and the inauguration within the domain, of a new tasting area decorated by the Manganese Editions agency.
Today, Arton goes further than simple production, by choosing pedagogy. Formulas for tours and tastings of Arton wines and Armagnacs are offered on the Château Arton website. We will discover the estate , its wines and the team that works there in an intimate setting... It is also possible to participate in high quality Masterclasses, to understand Armagnac, its slow and patient elaboration, its maturation and its tasting, through this family and entrepreneurial adventure. The Masterclasses are aimed at the curious, the enthusiasts, but also at gastronomy schools, groups of collectors and amateurs enlightened on the amber and sweet eau-de-vie that is Armagnac.
We wish you a wonderful discovery of Château Arton, its wines and of course its Armagnacs, near Lectoure in the Gers!