Wine of the Day December 19, 2013

2011Ilarria2011 Domaine Ilarria, Irouleguy AC Basque Red, France.
This intriguing Basque red comes from the foot of the French Pyrenees and is made from the classic Irouleguy blend of Tannat with Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. This makes for a chewy and tannic dry red, but Domaine Ilarria has crafted a balanced elegant vintage in 2011 with good fruit density and smooth ripe tannins that are not as harsh as can be the case in these rustic country wines, in fact this year’s Ilarria is a rival for many more famous Claret wines found in parts of Bordeaux and certainly makes for a wonderful alternative to those fairly generic wines, I’ll not name names, but let’s just say this distinct Basque red is a wine worth searching out, for short to mid term drinking pleasure as these wines do age pretty well and are very interesting in their first decade in bottle, though they can dry out after 15 to 20 years, I suggest to drink in the window of 5 to 7 years for the best results, and at around $20 a bottle this wine would be a great wine to grab a case of, it goes especially well with hearty cuisine. The 2011 Domaine Ilarria shows an almost Loire red like nose and mineral tones with roses and wild flowers, minty, red spices, game and red currants leading the way along with a palate of raspberry, black cherry, loganberry and plum fruits unfolding with air as well as briar notes, a hint of bell pepper, earthy loam, cedar and truffle. This wine feels juicy now and the ripe tannins don’t cut into the pleasure of this unique red, showing a deft talent in the winemaking and the finish is detailed and lingering, this is a fine and lovely Tannat driven effort deserving attention and praise, imported by Charles Neal Imports, look for it.
($22 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive