Published the 10/15/2020 in Exploring the Region
After a gourmet break in the Aldudes Valley, focus on another beautiful specialty of the region, the wines of Irouleguy and local aperitifs.
When you arrive towards Saint Jean Pied de Port or Saint Etienne de Baigorry, it is impossible to miss the vineyards on the mountainsides. A vineyard at the foot of the Pyrenees, which offers red and white wines of character.
One of the smallest vineyards in France, Irouleguy bears the name of the village located in its heart. If the appellation includes about fifteen villages, it covers only 200 ha (compared to the 120,000 ha of the Bordeaux vineyard... ), which means an annual production of less than one million bottles. It is not easy to get your hands on a bottle outside the Basque Country. However, the wine-growing tradition is not new and dates back to the Middle Ages, thanks to the pilgrims of Santiago de Compostela who passed through Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and Ronceveaux.
As a wine lover, these landscapes of vineyards on the mountainside are not without reminding you of Burgundy... this is the great characteristic of the wines of Irouleguy! Two thirds of the vineyards are planted on terraces, between 200 and 400 meters above sea level, on a sloping relief ... Often extremely steep! This imposes a manual work of the vine, always impressive! It is also common in the Basque Country to meet farmers working on extremely sloping land... or grazing with their cattle.
The wines of Irouleguy are mostly red (70%) with grape varieties such as Tannat, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. On the white wine side (10% of the production), we find the white courbu, the petit courbu, and the small and large manseng that we also find in the neighboring vineyard of Jurançon.
The Red : generally a good wine for laying down, with aromas of spices and wild flowers, red and black fruits, humus and undergrowth. Red wines are fleshy and long. They are well structured.
The Rosé is nervous and aromatic, reminiscent of wild flowers, with fairly powerful tannins.
The White is fresh and fruity. with aromas of white flowers and exotic fruits, with a nice freshness and aromatic length.
At the level of the agreements, we will respect the rule of the agreement to the local dish, with a piperade, duck confit, veal axoa, tuna à la basquaise or a simple local sheep's cheese.
Our selection: Arretxea estate, Brana estate with the Gorri which is quite easy to find.
After (or before) the wine, we propose a small selection of local aperitifs. We have selected the Txapa de Brana, the biggest producer of the region. It is produced from white wine, cherry liqueur and local spices. Very refreshing!
For those who are more courageous, why not try the Pimençon, an amazing sweet white wine flavoured with Espelette chilli pepper. Topa ! ( cheers ! )
Looking for food to match these wines, don't miss our gastronomic recommendations in the Aldudes Valley! And to know everything about this beautiful region, contact us to organize your itinerary in the heart of the Basque Country!
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