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2013 Irouléguy Rouge “Cuvée Haitza”

Domaine Arretxea

2013 Irouléguy Rouge “Cuvée Haitza” Domaine Arretxea - Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant
Welcome to Basque country, where Michel and Thérèse Riouspeyrous of Domaine Arretxea biodynamically farm Irouléguy’s steep mountain slopes just miles from the Spanish border. There is a lot of wine here: Tannat and a touch of Cabernet Sauvignon give a powerful beast built for the long haul, yet delightfully balanced at only 12.5% alcohol. Pitch-black in color with dense, earthy tannins and suggestions of wild forest berries and spice, their Haitza bottling is the Pyrenees’ answer to Clape’s Cornas and Tempier’s Cabassaou. And old vintages—you can’t help but think, “Why didn’t I put down more of this one?”

Anthony Lynch

Vintage: 2013
Bottle Size: 750mL
Blend: 70% Tannat, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon
Appellation: Irouléguy
Country: France
Region: Southwest
Producer: Domaine Arretxea
Winemaker: Thérese & Michel Riouspeyrous
Vineyard: 20 years, 2 ha
Soil: Sandstone
Aging: Organic, Biodynamic
Farming: Biodynamic (certified)
Production: 3300 cases
Alcohol: 12.5%

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About Southwest

Tucked away beneath Bordeaux and buffeted by the Pyrenees to the south, this expansive region of France, commonly known as the Southwest, is home to a diverse number of viticulture and gastronomic traditions as well as cultures. Though Cahors might be the most well known (and easiest to pronounce) appellation from the Southwest, the importance and influence of French Basque culture cannot be underestimated. Irouléguy, the primary appellation of the Basque region of France produces full-bodied, hearty red wines, produced from Tannat grape (known for its tannic qualities). Dry whites from Irouléguy are also produced from Petit and Gros Manseng. Northeast of Irouléguy is the sweet wine-producing appellation of Jurançon. These moelleux wines made from Petit and Gros Manseng have a storied history in France, from being the first wine region to have a vineyard classification, which dates back to the 154th century, to being preferred wine of royalty dating back to the 16th century as well as the French poet Colette.

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Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch

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