One might think the new-found popularity for traversing the medieval pathways of the Camino de Santiago would see an upsurge in demand for the local wine as thirsty travellers pile through Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port en route to divine absolution.
Apparently, this isn't the case as 21st Century pilgrims aren't as hedonistic as they were in Chaucer's day. Their chief concerns today are finding sockets to charge mobile devices and stealing a march on the competition in order to secure the following evening's accommodation.
That is their loss as the local Irouléguy wines are some of the most characterful and distinctive in France and merit contemplative appreciation. Peio Espil is one of a handful of independent winemakers in the vicinity producing finely-crafted organic wines at his Domaine Ilarria in the foothills of the Pyrenees. His Irouléguy blanc is made from a blend of Petit Corbu and Petit Manseng and has wild flower and herb aromas, a savoury palate of dried apple and cobnuts underscored by mineral streaks. A sibling red 'Cuvée Ilaria' is blended from Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat and brings a bouquet of dark cherries and myrtle backed up by a briary palate of dark forest fruit and rugged tannins that will be tamed if you can bear to further mature it in bottle over the coming decade or so.