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Essays and books by Charles Neal, importer of fine French wine and spirits.
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Domaine Ilarria Irouléguy

More About Irouléguy

Irouléguy, Pyrénées-Atlantiques

Peio Espil standing beside his truck that's parked by his vineyard.
Irouléguy winemaker Peio Espil

One of the top independent producers of AOC Irouléguy is Peio Espil, whose tiny six hectare (15 acre) domaine is located in the small village named for the appellation, just six miles from the Spanish border. Here the slopes are steep (60 degrees) and cows fill the narrow streets.

Like most people in the area, Peio speaks the Basque language with famly and friends. He studied at La Tour Blanche in Sauternes and at Domaine Cauhapé in Jurançon before taking over the family domaine in 1988.

Certified Organic by Ecocert

Peio is a firm believer in organic farming, not because it is fashionable nowadays, but because he feels it leads to a stronger natural yeast formation within the vineyard. His wines are now certified organic (Ecocert). His vines range between 10 and 30 years of age, although some are 45-years-old.

Outside chez Peio

Illaria Grapes

Reds are generally split between Tannat and Cabernet Franc, although Cabernet Sauvignon often rounds out the blend. They normally display a dark red color, nuances that hint at blackberry, cassis, and raspberry, and finish with moderate tannins. They are best when drunk between their second and eighth birthdays and always provide a sturdy accompanyment to red meats, game and hard sheep cheeses.

-- Charles Neal

French Spirits Books
by Charles Neal

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The Spirit of Normandy

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Cover to the book Armagnac: The Definitive Guide to France's Premier Brandy by Charles Neal

The Definitive Guide to France's Premier Brandy

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Map of the showing the location of Domaine Ilarria Irouleguy in southwestern France

Domaine Ilarria Red

70% Tannat, 20% Cabernet Franc, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in older bariques.

Tasting Notes: Forthcoming nose hints at black fruit and rose hip tea. Medium to full-body. Notes of currant and red fruit in the mouth. A hint of licorice, a touch of smoke and well-integrated tannins on the finish.

Domaine Ilarria Irouléguy

Domaine Ilarria Cuvée Bixintxo

Bixintxo is the Basque name for St. Vincent, the patron saint of Irouléguy.

100% Tannat. 20% new oak.

2001 Tasting Notes: Contains layers of blackberry and currant-scented fruit, hints of wood spice, well rounded tannins, and a long, brooding finish. The wine will continue to improve over the next decade.


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