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Wine By Region Right Europe Right France Right Southwest Right Irouléguy

Although it is regulated by the authorities of France and it is geographically located in Southwest France, the Irouléguy region is really part of the unrecognized Northern Basque Country. As is well known, the Basque Country is seeking to officially become its own country. If that happens it is not clear what the effect will be on the wine, but due to the Basque people's separate take on winemaking, the wines are already vastly different from anything else produced in France.

The Irouléguy vineyards are located in nine villages. With only around 500 acres under vine, the AOC is one of the smallest in Southwest France, but production is high at 400,000 cases of wine each year. Most of these wines are robust, Spanish-style reds.


Winemaking here dates back to the Roman era, but despite its long history the region was neglected after the phylloxera epidemic. Only relatively recently were the vineyards replanted and interest in the region renewed. Irouléguy became an AOC in 1970.

Climate and Viticulture

Since Irouléguy borders upon Spain and the people who live in the wine region are more Spanish than French in customs and traditions, the wines are very Spanish in style. The climate is very similar to that of, say, Rioja, but Irouléguy vineyards are planted on very steep hills, far steeper than those in most Spanish vineyards. The hills are made up of limestone, but clay and schist also exist in the soil.

Grape Varieties

Tannat, a very full, robust grape variety named for its high tannin content, is the main red grape here. In order to give the wines more international appeal, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are also allowed.

Major Producers

Due to the Irouléguy appellation's relative obscurity and location in the Basque Country, exporting of these wines is extremely rare. Three producers, however, make good wines that can be found in countries other than France. These are listed below.