While modest in scale, Irouléguy’s vineyards are deeply tied in history. Production took off in the eleventh century, when monks engaged in large-scale planting to provide for thirsty pilgrims on the Way of St. James, which runs directly through this part of Basque country. The region has thus benefitted from a great deal of cultural exchange, as travelers passing through have left behind bits and pieces from civilizations near and far.
Perhaps this is how the Cabernet grape made its way to Irouléguy. In local red wines, Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc have come to supplement the native Tannat, giving a unique expression of the steep, mineral-rich slopes. While these are among the southernmost of France’s vineyards, the climate is relatively cool and humid, giving Irouléguy reds a certain delicacy.
In this bottling from Maison Arretxea, a passionate husband-wife team that grows grapes organically and biodynamically, you’ll find low alcohol and bright acidity balancing the earthy tannins and deep, dark color. The aroma evokes fresh little berries, spice, and forest floor. Imagine a red straddling the Loire, Médoc, and Madiran with Basque flair and a Pyrenean freshness. You’ll see that Irouléguy is in a world apart.
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