Irouleguy Vineyards in the Heart of French Basque Country
In order to arrive at the vineyards of Irouleguy, you must ascend slopes so steep you will feel like you are standing in the presence of the sun. But O! The mountain is beautiful!
The vineyards of Irouleguy are situated in the heart of French Basque Country, in the province of Lower Navarre. They extend over 250 hectare and are utilized by about fifty wine growers.
The region owes his name to the town of Irouleguy (which in Basque means “three crests”), situated in the center of the vineyards, and wines of which were developed in the last century.
Perched between 650 – 1,475 feet high, the vines are often located on steep slopes with up to an 80% incline. As a result, two-thirds of the vineyard are cultivated in terraces which follow contour lines to allow for growth on the steep slopes. Sheltered from north winds by a mountain range, the vineyards enjoy a unique microclimate thanks to the influence of the south winds which help with the maturation of the grapes.
The region produces 5,500 hectoliters, with approximately 70% red wine, 20% rosé, and 10% white wine. The reds and rosés utilize Tannat, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon varietals. The white wines utilize Courbu Blanc, Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng grapes.
Le Domaine Etxegaraya
The Domain of Etxegaraya is probably one of the most secluded places on the road between Saint Jean Pied de Port and Baigorri in the French Basques. Seven and a half hectares of vineyards ensure an outstanding visual show from June onwards. Two mountains border the vineyard and shield it from the clamor of the city.
Once you step foot on its grounds, it is easy to lose track of time. Your first impulse is to amble between two vine stocks and take advantage of the Basque sun which warms your face. The Domain Etxegeraya is truly a haven of peace and beauty.
The vintage Lehengoa comes from vineyards which are more than 100 years old, extremely rare in the AOC. The Hillau family, a fifth generation family of producers at the domain, exploits seven hectares of vineyards arranged in terraces along the hillside.
After settling, the vintage Lehengoa is a charming wine with its dark dress, of an almost black intense garnet. In the nose, we find aromas of spices, violet, leather and red berries. The fruity qualities explode in the mouth. It tight tannins will delight those who enjoy tannic wines.
It demonstrates a very beautiful complexity which makes it a vintage much appreciated by those who appreciate wines of character.