It’s been just about a year since I went to that Guild of Sommeliers master class on Sud-Ouest, the wines of Southwest France, which I’ve referenced countless times in the blog since then.I’m generally a traditional sort of person with traditional preferences, and I’ve always had a great love for good wines of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Loire, and some of the better-known regions of France, not to mention my love for traditional wine of Italy, Spain, and Germany.
And then I attended the class on Southwest French wines. We went into a room in the lower level of Morton’s Steakhouse in New York, and already the room was filled with exotic wine aromas. The whites were exciting, and the reds were amazing, and the dessert wine was stunning. All were fascinating and unique, but it was more than that, something I can’t quite identify, but I connected so well with them, and since then, I’ve been hunting down more wines from Sud-Ouest and familiarizing myself and my palate with a wine region that seems more mysterious than the others.
A few nights ago, I opened the 2009 Domaine Etienne Brana “Ohitza” Irouleguy. Vineyards in Irouleguy are within the Basque area, very near Spain. The wine is 80% Tannat and 20% Cabernet Franc. Interestingly, it’s very different from wines from the nearby Madiran made up of exactly the same quotient of the same grapes. I told you wines from Southwest are mysterious! It has a very deep red color and it’s quite expressive and terroir-driven, with characteristics of mostly red fruit and some dark berry and plum as well, and spice, pepper, somewhat subdued wood notes, and a lot of earthiness and some indications of saline notes, quite possibly from its vicinity to the Atlantic ocean. The wine has bright acidity and nice structure, a smooth and clean feel, and a long unique finish.
In the $20-$30 range, this wine is worth buying and tasting for the unique experience alone, but it’s just so aromatic and delicious that for me, it’s a good value, even nearing $30.
I did come across some more wines from Sud-Ouest so now that the weather will be transitioning into cooler evenings, I’ll have more of a desire to open that type of wine.