2018 Domaine Bordaxuria Irouléguy Blanc - France, Southwest France, Pays Basque, Irouléguy (7.5.2021)
Mainly organically farmed Gros Manseng (60%) and Petit Manseng (40%) with a dash of Petit Courbu. 90% of the wine is free-run juice and 10% is slowly pressed over 18 hours. The wine is aged for 8 months in old 400-liter oak casks (70%) and concrete tanks (30%). 14% alcohol.
Quite concentrated and intense yellow-green color. Rich, somewhat tropical and also subtly sappy-green nose with quite bold aromas of guava, beeswax, some sweet golden apples, a little bit of white peach, light creamy tones, a hint of plantain and a touch of savory wood spice. The wine is noticeably ripe, broad and quite viscous - even fat - on the palate with a full body and lush, sweetly-fruited tropical flavors of mango, creaminess, some acacia honey, a little bit of acacia honey, light apple jam tones, a hint of savory wood spice and a touch of guava. The high alcohol shows through a little. The somewhat sweet edge of the wine makes me wonder whether this has a little bit of residual sugar to it or if the wine is just so super-ripe. The medium acidity feels a bit inadequate in relation to the weighty body and sweet-toned fruit. The finish is rich, round and even somewhat extracted with ripe, sweet-toned tropical fruit flavors of mango and guava, some apple jam, a little bit of honey, light pineapple tones, a hint of creaminess and a touch of alcohol warmth. The lengthy aftertaste seems to taper toward a point of sweetness, making the wine end on a rich, honeyed note.
A very rich, complex and noticeably ripe Basque white that feels a bit too round and sweet for my taste, making the wine come across as a bit too heavy and ponderous quite quickly. Although the taste is quite typical of Manseng (without the hallmark bitterness of the Mansengs, mind you), the overall feel is much more similar to an Alsatian Pinot Gris from a hot vintage - the wine is just way too big, fat and off-dry for what I’ve grown to expect from a dry Manseng white. This is pleasant for the duration of a glass or so, but it really calls for higher acidity and lower alcohol. I don’t feel like this wine is going to benefit much from aging in a cellar. Feels a bit pricey for the quality at 22€. (86 pts.)
2017 Domaine Bordaxuria Irouléguy Blanc - France, Southwest France, Pays Basque, Irouléguy (7.5.2021)
Mainly organically farmed Gros Manseng (60%) and Petit Manseng (40%) with a dash of Petit Courbu. 90% of the wine is free-run juice and 10% is slowly pressed over 18 hours. The wine is aged for 6 months in old 400-liter oak casks (70%) and concrete tanks (30%). 13,5% alcohol.
Quite intense, luminous greenish-yellow color. Fresh, precise and sappy nose with bright, crunchy aromas of fresh red apples, some creaminess, a little bit of cantaloupe, light Chenin-like waxy tones and a hint of greengage. Quite lovely and engaging aroma here. The wine feels dry, crunchy and somewhat bitter on the palate with a medium body and intense flavors of white peach, apple peel bitterness, some creamy tones, a little bit of fresh pineapple, light crunchy notes of whitecurrants, a hint of sappy herbal character and a touch of savory spice. The mouthfeel has a hint of waxy viscosity, but the high and focused acidity keeps the wine enjoyably firm and structured. The finish is dry, crisp and persistent with a lengthy aftertaste of apple peel bitterness, some sappy herbal spice, a little bit of crunchy greencurrant, light tangy notes of salinity, a hint of white peach and perhaps a slightest touch of tannic grip.
A fresh, crisp and still very youthful Basque white with wonderful sense of focus, purity and structure. So very unlike the lush, heavy and sweet 2018 vintage, this wine is exactly what I look for in a Manseng-based white. The wine is very enjoyable already now, but I can see it benefiting from further aging in a cellar. Solid value at 21€. (90 pts.)
2017 Domaine Arretxea Irouléguy - France, Southwest France, Pays Basque, Irouléguy (7.5.2021)
Mainly biodynamically farmed Tannat with some Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon in the mix. Macerated with the skins for approximately 3 weeks. Aged in concrete tanks for 10 months. 12% alcohol.
Very slightly translucent black cherry color. Youthful, sweetish and somewhat primary nose with fruity aromas of blackcurrants and blueberries, some sweet black cherry tones, a little bit of jammy dark fruits, light marmaladey tones and a hint of iron. The wine is juicy, dry and vivid on the palate with an open-knit texture and a medium body. Youthful flavors of blueberries and wild strawberries, some juicy blackcurrant tones, a little bit of dark plummy fruit, light inky tones, a hint of leafy greenness and a touch of peppery and slightly ferrous spice. The structure relies more on the rather high acidity than on the relatively ripe and easy medium tannins that slowly pile up on the gums. The finish is long, dry and quite crunchy with flavors of ripe bilberries and blackcurrants, some inky tones, a little bit of brambly raspberry, light wild strawberry tones, a hint of stony minerality and a touch of sappy herbal spice.
A lively, clean and accessible Basque red. Not a tough or challenging wine, but not a crowdpleaser either. Perhaps a bit too primary for its own good at the moment, making the wine feel very fruit-forward and almost candied in nature. The overall feel is quite straightforward and surprisingly friendly for an Irouléguy (after all, the region is known for the tannic, acid-driven reds) even though the wine isn’t lacking in acidity or tannins in any way. Most likely the wine will improve with age once it loses its sweet-toned primary fruit, although otherwise the wine isn’t really screaming for additional aging. Priced according to its quality at 17€. (87 pts.)
2016 Domaine Bordaxuria Irouléguy Rouge - France, Southwest France, Pays Basque, Irouléguy (7.5.2021)
A blend of organically farmed Cabernet Franc and Tannat. Fermented and macerated with the skins for 16 days. Aged for 11 months in concrete tanks. 13% alcohol.
Very dark, almost fully opaque blackish-red color. Dry, savory and slightly animale nose with aromas of juicy dark fruits, gamey meatiness, some herbaceous leafy tones, a little bit barnyard, light blackcurrant tones, a hint of ink and a touch of bretty funk and leather. There’s a touch of merde here that reminds me of a rustic Chinon red. The wine feels dry, quite full-bodied and moderately concentrated on the palate with juicy dark-fruited flavors of blackcurrants and dark plums, some barnyard funk, a little bit of leather, light notes of phenolic spice, a hint of tobacco and a touch of meaty umami. The mouthfeel is velvety smooth and chewy, yet the wine appears quite sinewy and muscular, thanks to its high acidity and quite assertive and rather grippy yet not aggressive tannins. The finish is dry, long and quite tannic with bold, quite concentrated flavors of blackcurrants and blackberries, some bretty phenolic notes of spices and smoke, a little bit of leathery funk, light barnyardy tones, savory hints of meat and tobacco and a touch of sour cherry bitterness. The rather complex and quite savory aftertaste carries for a long time on the palate.
An excellent, harmonious and hands-down delicious Irouléguy red. The wine is somewhere between a rustic Chinon and an old-school left-bank Bordeaux with wonderfully savory and quite concentrated overall feel and terrific, rather tightly-knit structure. Although the wine isn’t particularly herbaceous, this is nevertheless a wine for the fans of traditional French Cabernet. Although the wine doesn’t appear youthful in any way, it could definitely benefit from extended cellaring: the bold fruit holds lots of promise for additional tertiary complexity and the firm structure could use some resolution. A terrific wine indeed, outstanding now and will be even better with more age. A bargain at 19€. (92 pts.)
2016 Domaine Bordaxuria Irouléguy Kixka - France, Southwest France, Pays Basque, Irouléguy (7.5.2021)
Made with organically farmed Tannat. Fermented and macerated with the skins for 16 days. Aged for 20 months in old 400-liter casks. 13,5% alcohol.
Very dark, concentrated and fully opaque blackish-red color. Ripe, intense and somewhat sweet-toned nose with concentrated aromas of blackcurrants and black cherries, some bretty notes of leather and cloves, a little bit of barnyard, light inky tones, a hint of sappy herbal spice and a touch of bilberry. The wine feels quite ripe, chewy and somewhat rustic on the palate with a moderately full body and intense flavors of blackcurrants and astringent chokeberries, some inky tones, a little bit of tart red plums, light stony mineral notes, bretty hints of leather and farmhouse funk and a touch of tobacco. The overall feel is somewhat concentrated, but at the same time very vivid and not at all heavy - instead surprisingly light on its feet. Impressive structure, thanks to the high acidity and ample, noticeably grippy tannins. The very long finish is ripe, very tannic and quite concentrated with intense flavors of fresh blackcurrants, blackberries and chokeberries, some leathery funk, a little bit of phenolic spice, light stony mineral tones, a hint of licorice root and a touch of iron.
An excellent, wonderfully rustic and impressively structured Basque red that is still very young, although not at all primary anymore. Despite its quite obvious ripeness, there is nothing heavy or ponderous here and the taste is firmly on the dry-and-savory end of the spectrum. The overall style is delightfully un-polished and very similar to old-school Bordeaux reds, despite being a varietal Tannat wine. This might be a tad too tightly-knit for enjoyment for now, but seeing how the wine is all about cellaring potential, I can imagine this will become just stunning over the following decade or two. I’d let the wine wait until its 10th birthday before opening it. Outrageous value at 26€. Very highly recommended. (94 pts.)
2014 Domaine Bordaxuria Irouléguy Kixka - France, Southwest France, Pays Basque, Irouléguy (7.5.2021)
Made with organically farmed Tannat and Cabernet Franc. Fermented and macerated with the skins for 16 days. Aged for 18 months in old 400-liter casks. 13,5% alcohol.
Extracted, fully opaque blackish-red color with a subtly purple hue. Fine-tuned, sweetish and somewhat restrained nose with understated aromas of ripe blackcurrants, some inky tones, a little bit of leafy greenness, light notes of beet root, a hint of fresh dark plum and a touch of crunchy crowberry. Despite the reticent nature, the nose seems to hold quite a bit of power. The wine feels crunchy, somewhat extracted and texturally rather open-knit on the palate with a full body and firm, dry flavors of crunchy crowberries, meaty tones, some sour cherry bitterness, a little bit of earth and pouch tobacco, light inky tones, tart hints of lingonberries and chokeberries and a touch of leafy greenness. The taste is slightly less ripe than the more muscular 2016 vintage. The overall feel is sinewy and very structured, thanks to the high acidity and quite ample and grippy tannins. However, the wine still comes across as remarkably lively and light on its feet. The lengthy finish is dry, crunchy and noticeably grippy with intense flavors of crowberries and tart lingonberries, some sour cherry bitterness, a little bit of tobacco, light herbaceous notes of leafy greenness, a hint of inky character and a sanguine touch of iron.
A wonderfully savory and dead-serious Irouléguy red that shows quite a bit of extraction and intensity, but remarkable lightness and sense of elegance at the same time. While there is some obvious ripeness here, it stays firmly in the background and the tart, crunchy fruit remains to the fore, framed by the firm, still quite unresolved tannins. This wine comes across as leaner and more austere than the bolder 2016 vintage, but only by a small margin. Perhaps a tad forbidding at the moment, but the wine will in all likelihood evolve beautifully for many more years, if not even decades. A terrific effort, heartily recommended for the fans of old-school (aka. “thin and weedy”) Bordeaux reds. Excellent value at 25€. (93 pts.)
2017 Domaine Arretxea Irouléguy Cuvée Haitza - France, Southwest France, Pays Basque, Irouléguy (7.5.2021)
A blend of Bordelesa Beltza (Tannat, 70%) and Axeri Handia (Cabernet Sauvignon, 30%). Fermented spontaneously and macerated with the skins for 3-4 weeks. Aged for 16 months in 400-600-liter demi-muids. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. 12% alcohol.
Youthful, almost fully opaque yet not particularly extracted blackish-red color with a purplish hue. Dry, odd and even somewhat foxy nose with aromas of fresh blackcurrants, some foxy notes of grape jelly and créme-de-cassis, a little bit of dusty earth, light notes of exotic spices, a hint of leather and a touch of marmaladey candy. Overall the nose is fragrant, but that almost candied cassis note really throws me off. The wine is dry, crunchy and very intense but also only light-to-medium-bodied on the palate with very fresh and focused flavors of blackcurrants and crowberries, some foxy grapey notes and a little bit of cassis-flavored candies, light herbaceous notes of sappy green herbs, a ferrous hint of blood and a touch of exotic spice. Even though the wine is relatively light in body, it is also remarkably concentrated with tons of structure, thanks to the high acidity and moderately grippy tannins. The finish is fresh, crunchy and quite tannic with long, dry and quite intense but also rather linear aftertaste of fresh blackcurrants, some herbaceous leafy notes, a little bit of savory wood spice, light inky tones and a foxy hint of grape and blackcurrant jellies.
A very young and fruit-forward Irouléguy red with a rather odd, even somewhat foxy nose and taste. There’s a streak of blackcurrant that really doesn’t taste like the classic Bordeaux blackcurrant but more of that candied, almost artificial blackcurrant jelly character that is quite typical of hybrid grape varieties. Structurally this wine is built like a proper Claret from the 1970’s: the wine isn’t big or weighty, but it is not lacking in intensity or in structure in any way. It’s sort of refreshing to taste a "“top cuvée” of the house which isn’t bigger and bolder than the entry-level red, but instead more intense and complex in taste without growing in size. Nonetheless, I found the wine a bit too odd - at least for now - with its foxy, grapey overall character and, tasting this alongside 2013 and 2008 vintages, found the older vintages more enjoyable with their more savory, less fruit-forward nature. Definitely an odd bird, but seeing how the wine feels like it is really built to age, I think that this wine will need a decade or two before it really starts to show its best. Perhaps a bit pricey for its quality at the moment at 27€. (88 pts.)
2013 Domaine Arretxea Irouléguy Cuvée Haitza - France, Southwest France, Pays Basque, Irouléguy (7.5.2021)
A blend of Bordelesa Beltza (Tannat, 70%) and Axeri Handia (Cabernet Sauvignon, 30%). Fermented spontaneously and macerated with the skins for 3-4 weeks. Aged for 16 months in 400-600-liter demi-muids. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. 12,5% alcohol.
Still quite youthful, almost fully opaque yet not particularly extracted blackish-red color with a slightest hint of purple hue. Somewhat weird and quite characterful nose with expressive aromas of ripe blackcurrants, some herbal minty notes, a little bit of sweet dark fruits, light inky tones, a foxy hint of grape jelly and a touch of fresh and crunchy dark berries. The nose feels quite similar to the vintage 2017 that was tasted alongside, but noticeably less foxy. The wine is lively, open-knit and medium-bodied on the palate with flavors of fresh forest fruits and astringent chokeberries, some foxy notes of grape jelly and blackcurrant candies, light inky tones, a little bit of sanguine iron, a hint of whipped lingonberry porridge and a touch of sappy herbal bitterness. The overall feel is quite lean and sinewy, thanks to the noticeably high acidity, while the powdery yet moderately grippy medium-plus tannins feel less assertive than in the other two Haitza vintages (2017, 2008) we tasted. The finish is dry, crunchy and moderately grippy with flavors of blueberries and chokeberries, some tart lingonberries, a little bit of minty herbal spice, light foxy notes of blackcurrant candies and grapey fruit, a hint of sour cherry bitterness and a sanguine touch of iron.
This was something of an odd bird. The wine is at the same time relatively lean and surprisingly light-bodied, but at the same time remarkably intense and showing quite a bit of richness in fruit. There’s some weird, foxy grapey-cassis character that is something I haven’t tasted in any other Tannat-based wines than in Haitza, but it feels less pronounced than in 2017 vintage - hopefully it disappears with age. Overall the wine is remarkably youthful for a wine almost 8 years old and both aromatically and structurally it could use some additional aging. Most likely this won’t reach its peak in the next 10-15 years, so this is definitely built for the long haul. Very distinctive, but also pretty good for what it is. Somewhat worth the price at 30€. (89 pts.)
2008 Domaine Arretxea Irouléguy Cuvée Haitza - France, Southwest France, Pays Basque, Irouléguy (7.5.2021)
A blend of Bordelesa Beltza (Tannat, 75%) and Axeri Handia (Cabernet Sauvignon, 25%). Fermented spontaneously and macerated with the skins for 3-4 weeks. Aged for 16 months in 400-600-liter demi-muids. Bottled unfined and unfiltered. 13% alcohol.
Very deep and dark blackish-red color that permits only very little color through; looks slightly less opaque than the 2013 and 2017 vintages that were tasted alongside. The nose feels big, rich and sweetish with complex and quite attractive aromas of ripe red cherries and chokeberry marmalade, some bilberry tones, a little bit of dark grapey fruit, light inky tones, a hint of meaty character, a hint of tobacco and a foxy whiff of blackcurrant candies. The wine is medium-to-moderately full-bodied, savory and bone-dry on the palate with a silky texture and intense flavors of ripe bilberries and blackcurrants, some astringent chokeberries, a little bit of fresh and crunchy red plums, light savory notes of meaty umami and dried tobacco leaves, a hint of inky character and a touch of tart lingonberries. There’s a subtly herbaceous streak of Cabernet here, but less leafy and more reminiscent of dried green herbs. Despite the ripeness and nice textural mouthfeel, the wine has a somewhat austere overall character, thanks to the rather high acidity and the ample, assertive tannins. The finish is dry, crunchy and grippy with long, complex flavors of tart lingonberries and sour cherries, some tobacco, a little bit of meaty umami, light inky tones, sweeter hints of bilberries and almost foxy grapey fruit and a touch of dried herbs.
An excellent, fine-tuned and very muscular Irouléguy Rouge that is remarkably youthful for a 13-year old wine and only slowly gliding into its drinking window. It has lost most of its foxy-grapey-cassis notes that were much more noticeable in the Haitzas that were tasted alongside (2013, 2017) without having lost any of its youthful vibrancy and intensity. Obviously built for the very long haul. Excellent sense of purity here, combined with rather tightly-knit structure. This is a wine for the fans of old-school Bordeaux and it is going to make beautiful old bones. Let it wait for another 10-12 years. Quite good value at 34€. (92 pts.)
Posted from CellarTracker