Irouléguy: Domaine Ilarria Rouge 2018
A deep red organic Irouléguy wine is a terrific blend of Cabernet Franc and a good dollop of Tannat. It has a rich bouquet of black cherries and spices with vigorous youthful tannins (reminiscent of young Cornas) and underlying dark fruit flavours and spice.
Peio Espil's principal Irouléguy red, called simply 'Domaine Ilarria' is usually blended from Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat. The blend can vary slightly depending on the vagaries of each variety in different vintages. The 2018 blend is 60% Cabernet Franc and the remainder Tannat, from very low yields (15hl/ha).
Practising minimal intervention winemaking, they use little sulphur as possible to prevent oxidation. The wine is then matured for 24 months before release (16 of which are in used French oak barriques), the aim is to gently micro-oxygenate the wine via the wood. This acts to soften the tannins and add flesh to the wine. Peio suggests serving it at room temperature with grilled meats and by preference, suggests decanting to bring out the fruit. It has a wealth of briary hedgerow fruit over a firm structure of tannins so works well with local cuisine - duck pâté or an air-dried Bayonne ham would be apposite.
|Style||Red Wine, Sec, Full-bodied, Non Sparkling|
|Wine Region||Midi, Irouléguy|
|Grape Variety (Cépage)||Cabernet Franc, Tannat|
|Food & Wine Matching||Beef, Charcuterie, Duck, Lamb|
|Cellarage||This Irouléguy wine should cellar well for 10 years from vintage.|
|Vinification||Very low yields of hand-harvested grapes are de-stemmed and pressed prior to a 10 day cuvaison and then alcoholic and malolactic fermentation using indigenous yeasts before an eventual egg white fining, filtration and a September bottling.|
|Alcohol By Volume (%)||13|
Domaine Ilarria (Peio Espil)
The tiny appellation of Irouléguy centres on the village of the same name in the Basque country near the Spanish border. The Espil family has owned Domaine Ilarria for centuries and the Basque language is still spoken in the family home. One of only 7 independent winemakers here (and the longest-serving), Peio presides over 30 hectares that are farmed organically following natural principles espoused by Japanese microbiologist Masonobu Fukuaka. Only 10 hectares are under vine and farmed organically with 3ha planted with white varieties Petit Manseng and Petit Corbu. The remaining 7ha consists principally of Tannat which yields tannic and long-lived wines so Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are deployed to soften its harder edges for red and rosé.
His characterful Irouléguy blanc is made from a blend of Petit Corbu and Petit Manseng that are left on their fine lees over winter prior to a spring bottling. The finished wine has appealing herb and wildflower scents and a ripe orchard fruit palate with a persistent dry finish. It makes a fine foil for the local cuisine that is rich in olive oil, garlic and spicy piment peppers. Peio's Irouléguy rouge is usually blended from around Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat in descending proportions. With a bouquet of dark cherries and bay plus a palate of forest fruit supported by earthy tannins, it comes into its own with 2 to 3 years bottle age and will cellar well for a decade. He also makes a similar red with no added sulphur and his 'Cuvée Bixinto' only in the best vintages. The latter is a true 'vin de garde' that will cellar for 20 years and hits its stride after around a decade in bottle. His Domaine rosé has a similar cépage to the reds and is designed particularly to drink with food, especially charcuterie, fish and poultry.
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