Irouléguy: Domaine Ilarria ‘Sans Soufre Ajouté’ Rouge 2017
For a number of years, Peio Espil has been researching 'natural' wines and since 2008, has made a modicum of red wine with no added sulphur. Based on Cabernet Franc and Tannat, it is matured for 18 months with time in both tank and barrel. Round and weighty on the palate, it has a lovely finesse with deep intense fruit flavours and layers of spice set against fine tannins.
Certified as an organic wine.
Peio Espil's tiny bottling of 'Sans Soufre Ajouté' (no added sulphur) is his version of a minimal-intervention ‘natural wine. 50% Tannat is blended with Cabernet Franc grown on limestone soils from very low-yielding vines. Benefits from decanting for a couple of hours before drinking and cellaring it in dark, cool conditions.
|Style||Red Wine, Sec, Full-bodied, Non Sparkling|
|Wine Region||Midi, Irouléguy|
|Grape Variety (Cépage)||Cabernet Franc, Tannat|
|Food & Wine Matching||Beef, Charcuterie, Lamb, Mushrooms|
|Cellarage||This wine should cellar well for around a decade after vintage.|
|Vinification||Grown on limestone soils, it’s matured for at least 18 months before release with time both in tank and barrique to gently micro-oxygenate the wine via the wood. This acts to soften the tannins and bring out the fruit.|
|Alcohol By Volume (%)||12.5|
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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