Sunday, January 3, 2010

TN: Domaine Ilarria 2006 Irouleguy

For some reason, it seems like half the wines I buy get closed out for peanuts after I buy them. Such was the case for the Domaine Ilarria 2006 Irouleguy that cost $15, but was punted out of the inventory at $10. For what it's worth, $15 is a totally fair price for this wine. It was probably the victim of having a strange name written on the label.

Irouleguy is an appellation in Southwestern France in the Basque region bordering Spain. It's nestled down there with Cahors and Madiran, and like those other two regions known for dark, tannic and rustic wines, the Tannat grape is a major player (though less so in Cahors where Malbec takes the lead). This wine was 70% Tannat with 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. While this sounds like the recipe for an impenetrable, face-smashing wine, this turned out to be a sort of approachable fruit-bomb, albeit not the candied, vanillified Cali-version. The nose oozed red and black currants as well as raspberry and blackberry, almost reaching the point of jamminess. But there was also a bit of licorice to add depth. The palate stepped back from the fruit, though, and was fairly acidic with a spicy earthiness. On the finish there was a definite bitter, phenolic bite, though the tannins were not overwhelming.

It was a typically French wine, smelling and tasting like two altogether different things. Not the most polished or complex of wines, but it wasn't nearly as rustic as I'd anticipated. For some reason it made me think, "this is how Zinfandel should taste." Imagine a fruit-forward Zin without the jellied and raisiny character, and possessing a few rough edges, and this is what you'd get.

Pros: Strong Ripe Fruit Aromas, Structured, Earthy Flavors
Cons: Not Complex
Decant: Yes, tons of sediment (tartrate crystals) in bottle
Price: $15 from K&L Wines
QPR: Fair (out of Poor, Mediocre, Fair, Good or Excellent with Fair denoting expectations were met for the price point)

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