Domaine du TARIQUET

From 19th-century bear trainers to 21st-century winemakers, every family has a story to tell…
Towards the end of the 19th century, rural France had a hard time feeding all its children, which lead many of those in the countryside to emigrate, in the hope of finding a better future…

This sets the scene for our story. The village of Ercé lies at the foot of the Pyrenees, in Ariège. Given their proximity to the natural habitat of mountain bears, the inhabitants were particularly skilled in the art of bear taming. Thus, young Artaud was a bear tamer by trade. With his two trusty beasts, whose names history has forgotten, he left in search of work and adventure, travelled the world, crossed the ocean, and finally settled in the United States, where he lived contentedly… Until a longing for his roots drove him to set off once again in search of somewhere to spend his old age. Returning to France in 1912, he saw the Tariquet and instantly fell in love with the area. Yet with the savings he had, he realised he could not afford to buy the property.

He therefore turned to his son, Jean Pierre, who had stayed in New York and had married Pauline, a pretty young girl, also from Ariège. Jean Pierre worked as a bartender, mixing elegant cocktails in a popular bar in town… Together, father and son bought the Tariquet wine estate. As most of the vines had been destroyed by phylloxera, all that was left were seven hectares of vineyards in a sorry state…

Every good story has an element of drama…
1914 was a terrible year, with the outbreak of World War I. Jean Pierre Artaud, a fervent patriot, returned to France to fight for his country, sustained a bayonet wound in fierce man-to-man combat and lost so much blood that he suffered from memory loss for several years. An amnesiac, he remained in hospital in France until 1922, when he finally returned to New York, where his wife Pauline had spent week after week meeting every boat that came in from Le Havre, in the hope of seeing her husband again one day. Jean Pierre was so marked by his wartime experience that he was hardly recognisable…
No doubt the decision was a difficult one for Pauline, who enjoyed modern life in New York, but they soon decided to return to France, and shortly thereafter were blessed with the arrival of a daughter, “Hélène”…
From the Artauds to the Grassa family
Pierre Grassa was born in France to Spanish parents from the Sierra de Guara, just the other side of the Pyrenees… He spent most of his youth outdoors, as a cowherd or manual labourer, and had little formal education. He was a determined young man, bursting with vitality and a thirst for adventure. Sport offered him an outlet for his drive to succeed, to enjoy life to the full. He channelled his energy into military service, joining the Joinville battalion, which selected top national sportsmen from each discipline. Returning to civilian life, he found work in Bordeaux in a hairdressing salon… Broom in hand, he never tired of watching the scissors and curling irons work their charm. He decided to train as a hairdresser and gained his credentials with flying colours.

1939 marked the end of Pierre’s career as a hairdresser, as mobilization for World War II changed the course of his life. Taken prisoner of war with his battalion, captivity was unbearable for this restless character. He escaped and joined the Resistance in South West France, in Éauze to be precise… home to the Tariquet, where he met Hélène… When a good looking young man meets a charming young lady, it is easy to imagine what happens next in our story…
Pierre and Hélène are inseparable! They get married and together bring a new lease of life to the Tariquet. The château and property need restoring to their former glory – they are in love and unafraid of the challenge, and they set to work at once. Soon, thanks to Hélène and Pierre’s efforts, Tariquet’s vineyards are once again producing Bas-Armagnac brandies. They have four children, Maïté, Christiane, Françoise and Yves. Maïté and Yves choose to remain on the property and continue the family tradition.

In 1972 they create their first company with their father, boosting sales of Bas-Armagnac brandies produced at the property…

In 1982, they start producing quality white wines, a pioneering step for the region…
All good stories end on a positive note. Yves’ sons,
Armin and Rémy, are now winemakers themselves and will soon be writing the next chapter of this story…