Red Basque Wine

Red Basque Wine

Posted on Sep, 09. 2010 by

Categories: Wine

One French region I don’t think we have ever offered wine from here at the Guild is the Pays Basque. It is an odd little region, Lisa and I visited some time back and had a wonderful time there. They have their own culture and like many border areas in Europe they stick primarily to the traditions of that culture. In fact I don’t think it is too much to say that the Spanish and French Basque have more in common with each other than they do with their own Countries. They have their own language, they have a fantastic culinary tradition which most of us have had a glimpse of with the house favorite P’tite Basque cheese.

Also of note is their delicious Green Cider, which is a hard apple cider that is crisp and dry and perfect with food. Their Charcouterie is sought after throughout France. The Pays Basque enjoys both mountain and maritime traditions and the foods range from mountain lamb and game to fantastic Fruit de Mare platters by the sea. It was Jean Michele Cazes, owner of Lynch Bages who suggested that we go to this region, for this and all his kindnesses we will be forever grateful.

The wine I have for you today is not for every palate, this is a very French wine. That said, it is a lot more approachable than any others of its kind I have tasted. The wine region here is called Irouleguy (I pronounce that i-ru-la-gee). It is a 2007 red Irouleguy from Arretxea and imported by master wine oracle Kermit Lynch!

Typically the wines in this area are made from the Tannat grape. This is the grape that is also the mainstay of the Madiran region near Cahors. People say that the name of the grape comes from the word tannic because, well it is really tannic red wine. Others say that any good Tannat needs to age ten years at least for the wine to soften and be ready. I have found this to be true in many cases. Today there are many ways around this need for aging, microoxigenation (totally not spelled right I think) and skillful blending are ways to soften these tougher grapes and make them more accessible early.

I can not find really good notes about this wine even though it is a Kermit Lynch import but I have read some people who think that it is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon. That might well be as they have done something to make the wine approachable. It has the classic deep color, almost black in the glass. The fruit is lively and ripe most reminiscent of Bordeaux in flavor but a little more brightness and bramble as is the character of the Tannat. There is certainly a hard, tannic finish. The wine is terse, tough, meaty and chewy, that is just what Irouleguy is.

So if you like big juicy Cali/Aussie fruit bombs then you may not like the higher acid and firm tannic structure of this wine even though I think you will like the profile of the fruit in it. This is no Pinot Zinsyrauvignon (My word for gigantic New World Pinot Noir/Syrah/Cabernet Sauvignons that basically all taste the same).

This wine offers great deep fruit and big chewy tannins almost to a mouth puckering level. But if you like big masculine wines with steak or any heavy grilled red meats, or you like what crazy French wines do to your palate, stretching it in different ways and making it think a little bit more about what it is doing or if you are a confirmed Tannic wine fanatic then this is a great, extremely well made for its style, red wine to pick up and enjoy. Furthermore, I personally loved the heck out of it, it is awesome wine.

This is the type of wine I like to put in my cellar for a few years and break out at blind wine tastings with my friends to blow their minds. The wine is ready now for the description above but it will soften like a Bordeaux with 5-7 years of aging. this is a top wine in its class and highly recommended

2007 Arrestxea, Irouleguy
Member Price: [private_member] Grand Cru: $21.26 • Premier Cru: $22.23 [/private_member]
Retail Price: $30.00
Buy Now!

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