Irouléguy Wine

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Irouléguy Wine

The historically-significant Basque vineyards of Irouléguy lie above the important pilgrim pit-stop of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Their relative isolation means that they have upheld traditional grape varieties and means of production making the resultant wines traditional and true to their terroir. We have been importing wines from Peio Espil's Domaine Ilarria since 1997 when Robin Yapp was impressed by their authenticity.

Today, Peio tends 10 hectares of vines that are all grown organically on steep, free-draining, limestone slopes yielding wines of great character and finesse. His white is made from a blend of Petit Courbu and Petit Manseng that are vinified in vats and left on their fine lees over winter. The finished wine has alluring scents and a supple stone-fruit palate with a elegant, dry finish. It can be drunk on its own as an aperitif but pairs well with seafood and poultry. Peio's principal wine - in terms of volume - is his red Domaine Ilarria which comprises a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Tannat that is vinified then raised in vat and barrel for 16 to 24 months prior to blending and bottling. It merits decanting or cellaring for 3 to 5 years and makes a fine partner to game or slow-cooked stews. Peio also produces a flagship red called 'Cuvée Bixintxo' that is made from 65% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Tannat. With a wealth of brooding hedgerow fruit and a firm structure of tannins, it ages well for 5 to 10+ years and pairs well with deeply-savoury dishes like a wild boar ragu.

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  1. Irouléguy: Domaine Ilarria Blanc 2018
    Bottle
    £27.00
    Bottle (Case)
    £324.00
  2. Vin de France: Domaine Ilarria Rosé 2020
    Bottle
    £18.45
    Bottle (Case)
    £221.40
    Half Bottle
    £10.20
    Half Bottle (Case)
    £244.80
  3. Irouléguy: Domaine Ilarria Rouge 2018
    Bottle
    £23.00
    Bottle (Case)
    £276.00
  4. Irouléguy: Domaine Ilarria Rouge 2017
    Half Bottle
    £13.20
    Half Bottle (Case)
    £316.80
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Quick and Easy Guide to Irouléguy wine

The specialist Basque appellation of Irouléguy, above the pilgrim pit-stop of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in the Pyrenees, is home to a single cave co-opérative and a handful of independent wine-makers including Peio Espil from whom we have been shipping since 1997.

Wine has been produced in this languid agricultural landscape in the western Pyrenees since the Abbey of Roncevaux planted vineyards in the Middle Ages. A trio of mildew-plagued vintages in 1907-1909, followed by phylloxera arriving in 1912 almost put paid to viticulture in the vicinity altogether. Happily, a few dogged vignerons kept the faith and in 1952 the VDQS classification was awarded, followed, finally, by full Appellation Contrôlée status in 1970.

The appellation now runs to some 1,000 hectares encompassing a huge range of soil types, aspects and at altitudes up to some 400m. Its climate is heavily influenced by the Atlantic yet has enjoys "...more sunshine than most French wine regions", according to Jancis Robinson OBE, MW.

Appellation rules insist that reds must be composed of at least half Tannat and/or Cabernet Franc with the balance from Cabernet Sauvignon. Local varieties Courbu, Petit Courbu, plus Gros- and Petit Manseng and are used for crisp, aromatic white blends, although a little joins the red varieties in rosé wine production.