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Peio Espil at Domaine Ilarria in Irouleguy
We're very happy to offer the fantastic 2021 Ilarria Rosé at a new low price of $21.99 (less 10% on a case) - it's one of our very favorite rosés and is regularly featured by our friend Eric Asimov at the NY Times. This full-bodied rosé is a bit lighter and more vibrant than the 2020 version, combining gorgeous fruit, zingy acidity and great minerality - it will evolve gracefully for three to five years.
Inspired by his reading of Masanobu Fukuoka, Peio Espil implanted this philosophy, observing nature and its powers in order to farm with as little human intervention as possible. The whole 10 hectares are farmed this way, and were also certified organic in 1999: no tilling, the spontaneous vegetation is mowed, in the winter ewes are coming to graze, their manure used as compost to enrich the microbiological life, which is for Peio the most important part of the health of the soils. Underground bacterias working in non-tilled soils are key partners to the vigneron to guarantee the health of the vines. And the 2020 Irouleguy Rouge and Blanc have just returned - these are truly special wines that deserve your attention - and you'll be fighting global warming while drinking them...
Jean-Marc Grussaute, Camin Larredya
We had a fabulous tasting with Jean-Marc Grussaute last month in Angers, unaware that he had just been named "Winemaker of the Year" by the Review du Vin de France! The 2021 "La Part Davant" and "Virada" showed beautifully, followed by the superb new cuvée "Cote Blanche." This astonishing wine is from young vines of Petit Manseng, Camaralet and Lauzet planted on a vertiginous slope in the south of Jurançon - we hope it will be available later this year. The 21 "Au Capceu" is a moelleux of incredible complexity and the new 2020 Iranja was extraordinary but with a bit more skin tannin than the 2019, we'll see how it evloves. For the moment, 2 wines from the 2020 vintage are here, both showing the sensational elegance and perfect balance of Jurançon by Jean-Marc!
2020 Jurançon Sec "La Part Davant," composed of 50% Gros Manseng, 35% Petit Manseng and 15% Petit Courbu. This pale yellow-gold wine has pronounced aromas of flowers, exotic fruits, fresh grass, spices and herbs. There is an interesting interplay between the fruit character and umami, with acidity giving this dry wine a firm assertiveness allowing it to be paired with rich food: cassoulet, roasted goose, terrine, ceviche or seared scallops or lobster... or simply with goat cheese. Drink this vibrant wine over the next ten years.
Jurançon Moelleux, "Les Grains de Copains." The 2020 is a new version of his Constat Darrer, made from 100% Petit Manseng grapes purchased from three neighbors. The ripe, dried grapes (no botrytis) were hand-harvested from Oct 25 to Nov 10, then slowly pressed to extract aroma and structure from the Manseng. Vinification and aging, partly sur-lie, happens in small barrels and foudres. "Les Grains des Copains" is a delicious candy, a pure gourmandise with a little more concentration than usual with about 60 grams per liter of residual sugar. If you like orange marmalade, membrillo paste, cinnamon and lily of the valley, you will love this nose and the sweetness seems swallowed by the acidity, leaving the palate fresh and ready for another glass. This is a beautiful aperitif or a perfect accompaniment to pates and cheeses and it's a sensational value.
And just a reminder that the Biodynamic Jurançons of the Aurisset family at Chateau Lapuyade are back in stock - beautiful wines of terroir that highlight the ripe, complex aromas and flavors of late-harvested Petit Manseng...
Wines arrive Friday March 10, 10% case/mixed case discount applies.
(Arrives Tuesday Feb 21) Clos Marie-Louise/Château Lapuyade is a beautiful biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, south of Pau. Their wines are harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in old barrels purchased from Yquem and Haut-Brion. Their 2019 Petit Manseng is a gorgeous wine and a sensational value. The wine needs a bit of air to open up, then shows deep floral honeyed apricot, candied citrus, stone, spice and caramel aromas with sweet fruit on the palate—lemon oil, exotic fruit and brown spice lifted by very firm acidity. Terrific length. With a few days open, more exotic fruit, pineapple and lychee emerge and the wine softens into something wonderful. An outstanding Jurançon moelleux that will accompany fois gras, patés, cheeses, fruit desserts and is fabulous on its own. (About 70 gr/liter RS)
"This is one of my favorite rosés" said Eric Asimov in the NY Times and for good reason, as this beautiful blend of Cabernet Franc and Tannat is a vibrant and refreshing wine that pairs well with salads, seafood, white meats and grilled foods all year round. Domaine Ilarria practices superb organic, no-till farming with the goal of creating living soils that provide needed micro-nutrients and natural defenses to the vine. This is evident in al the estates wines which have a remarkable brightness and saline mineral character balancing the vibrant fruit. The 2021 Rosé shows a vivid pink/garnet color and ripe sweet aromas of red currant, pomegranate, rose, citrus and earth., very fresh and bright. There is luscious cherry, red currant and raspberry fruit on the palate which is sappy and deep but quite refreshing with earth, mineral and citrus flavors that continue in the very long juicy finish. This full-bodied rosé is lighter and more vibrant than the 2020 version, combining gorgeous fruit, zingy acidity and great minerality - it will evolve gracefully for three to five years. Only a small quantity reaches the US, be sure to grab some of this rare treat for tis spring and summer or for the cellar. Highly recommended! David Lillie
From organically certified vineyards, 1 ha dedicated to Petit Manseng and 1 ha to Petit Courbu, permaculture-pioneer Peio Espil offers a very unique interpretation of Irouléguy Blanc as he is one of the few growing grapes on Trias limestone, a soil so hard he had to use dynamite to plant the vines. No tilling, use of ewes to graze the spontaneous vegetation and compost the soils leads to balanced yields of very concentrated grapes. Harvested almost at the same time despite the fact Petit Courbu is usually an earlier ripening grape than Petit Manseng (Petit Courbu has usually dense cluster and thinner skin berries, but not at Ilarria thanks to the farming), both see some skin maceration (6 hours or so for the Petit Courbu, 12-14 hours for the Petit Manseng) in order to extract aromatic compounds and structure, the musts are blended right away, and fermented spontaneously, with malolactic always occurring, something very rare for the region! Long fermentations are preferred for texture. A little bit of sulfites are used after the fermentation when the wine needs to be racked from inox to demi-muids from tonnellerie de l’Adour. Then the wine stays untouched on its fine lees with racking if needed. The wine is aged up to 18 months, and doesn’t need to be filtered before bottling. Sulfites are adjusted at this time for a total round 45ppm. With moderate alcohol, it has a surprising density with so many layers: a very complex nose of passion fruit, chamomile, yellow plum and smoked salt, the palate is very savory with a saline quality, and more dried hawthorne and thai basil leaves. It is a salivating wine with so much to give, that you want to sip on it little by little. Enjoy it today in large Burgundy glass or keep it for 10 years. For pairing, a rabbit agnolotti with dried sage or a cauliflower panna cotta with crab meat flesh and grapefruit segment.
In the French Basque hills, enveloped by Spain, Peio Espil tends his family’s estate with impressive care. Peio, after careers in both Sauternes and Jurancon, returned to Irouleguy to work sustainably, and received complete organic certification in 2008. Here he strictly adheres to a Fukuoka-inspired way of organic farming, with biodiversity in the vineyards and no plowing, with the overall health of the soil being his number one concern. The 2020 Rouge is approximately 55% Tannat, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 30% Cabernet Franc and it's another sensational vintage for this unique wine. Deep black/red color with bright rim; elegant aromas of red currant, cassis and blackberry with rose petal and earth, really lovely. A bit leaner than the 2019, the wine is intense and well structured with firm acidity beneath sapid berry fruits that coat the palate. There is a lovely balance between intensity of fruit and refreshing acidity and while there are firm tannins the wine remains elegant, supple and immensely enjoyable to drink now, with a beautiful combination of soil, fruit and bright acidity in the finish. Serve a bit cool with grilled lamb, hangar steak or a tagine of vegetables, enjoy until 2035.
Camin Larredya by Jean -Marc Grussaute comes from a small vineyard in Chapelle de Rousse area of Jurançon, in the Pyrenees where the climate is mild, southern with Atlantic influence. The vineyard situated in the Chapelle Rousse area of Jurançon owned by Jean-Marc and his mother is organic. This south-facing vineyard with a view of the peaks in the Pyrenees is also Demeter certified Biodynamic. Camin Larredya Jurancon Sec La Part Devant is composed of 50% Gros Manseng, 35% Petit Manseng and 15% Petit Courbu. It is fermented in wood (2500 L foudres plus some 225 L barrels) The wine is then matured ‘sur lie’ for six months. This pale yellow-gold wine has pronounced aromas of flowers, exotic fruits, fresh grass, spices and herbs. There is an interesting interplay between the fruit character and umami, with acidity giving the wine a firm assertiveness allowing it to be paired with rich food: cassoulet, roasted goose, terrine, to lobster. OR, simply with goat cheese. Mariko Kobayashi
Formerly called Costat Darrèr, "Les Grains des Copains" is a great introduction to the style of the domaine and how Jean-Marc Grussaute is capturing the concentration of the sugar with remarkable elegance. In 2020 this wine is 100% Petit Manseng grown by his neighbors (Pedeflus, Lacazette and Vignau) - they have another job and are tending their small plots for pleasure. The goal of this wine is to offer a delicious, refreshing moelleux in the way it was done last century at a fantastic price for value. Hand-harvested, picking was done of the ripe, dried grapes (no botrytis) from Oct 25 to Nov 10, the grapes are slowly pressed to extract aroma and structure from the Manseng. Vinification and aging, partly sur-lie, happens in small barrels and foudres. Volcanic sulfur is used with parsimony and the wine is sterile filtered. "Les Grains des Copains" is a delicious candy, a pure gourmandise with a little more concentration than usual. If you like orange marmalade, membrillo paste, cinnamon and lily of the valley, you will love this nose. Once again, the sweetness seems swallowed by the acidity, leaving the palate fresh and ready for another glass. Enjoy it today or keep it 5 years. A pan-sautéed foie gras with apple-cider reduction, a passion fruit panna cotta or a mild blue-cheese would make some great pairing. 100% Petit Manseng, 60 g RS.
Clos Marie-Louise/Château Lapuyade is a beautiful Biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, south of Pau. Their wines are harvested by hand, fermented with wild yeasts and aged in old barrels purchased from Yquem and Haut-Brion. Château Lapuyade produces a complex, ripe, exotic style of "Sec" and the lovely 2020 is no exception. Produced from Petit Manseng and Gros Manseng, the wine shows a bright gold color; ripe aromas of exotic fruit, lemon zest, almond, honeysuckle and hay; the palate is ripe and round with spiced pear, buttery lemon, earth and mineral flavors; very bright citrusy acidity in the finish with hay and minerals. This will evolve nicely re-corked in your fridge or with five to ten years of cellaring. Not for everyone perhaps, this is really a unique and intense bottle of Jurançon! Serve with chicken or fish in sauce, full-flavored cheeses, patés and Asian foods.
(Arrives Fri 3/10) The Cuvée Dentelle from our biodynamic friends at Chateau Lapuyade in Jurançon is one of the rare dry Jurançon that is made from 100% Petit Manseng, in this case from 45 year-old vines always tended in organic and biodynamic farming, it's a tiny special production in the best vintages - we're fortunate to get 5 cases. The 2019 shows a bright gold color and beautiful aromas of lemon confit, apricot, almond, exotic fruit and brown spice. The palate is dense and round with dried pear, citrus, apricot, hay and mineral flavors with perhaps a bit of residual sugar. The finish is very long with firm acidity under ripe white fruits, citrus and stone. Lovely wine! Serve with foie gras, fish in sauce, Asian foods, goat chesses and patés. Sensational now and should be very interesting in ten years. David Lillie
Régine and Jean-Joseph Aurisset of Chateau Lapuyade/Clos Marie-Louise produce sensational dry, moelleux and dessert wines from Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng on their Biodynamic estate deep in the hills of Jurançon, southeast of Pau. The soils are primarily "poudingue," a conglomeration of calcareous stones and gravel deposited during the formation of the Pyrenees, with sandy clay topsoil. The Aurissets prefer a very full-bodied style of Jurançon - all their wines are aged in used barriques which gives amazing complexity and phenomenal richness to the 100% Petit Manseng Cuvée Marie-Louise. This is a superb Jurançon Moelleux, harvested in late December, about 90 grams/liter of residual sugar. Wonderfully complex aromas of apricot, candied citrus, flowers and exotic fruit with a hint of vanillin. Lemon confit, apricot, brown spice and chalky acids on the palate. A young wine that is gorgeous now but perhaps best in five to ten years. With more acidity than Sauternes, this is a great match for foie gras, lemon tarts and strong cheeses, and for apple and mince pies on Thanksgiving! Absolutely superb! (The wine drinks beautifully for weeks, re-corked in the fridge.)