Domaine Brana

Saint Jean Pied de Port
Jean Brana
Martine Brana

The appellation of Irouleguy stretches along steep hillsides in the Pyrenees within the French Pays Basque. The 245 hectares are planted almost exclusively to red grapes. The vineyards which range in altitude between 200 and 450 meters can have inclines up to 70% and are often planted along narrowly cut terraces that require an enormous amount of hand labor. The characteristic soil of Irouleguy is a red sandstone that is rich in iron. This is complemented by a richer mix of clay/limestone and some outcrops of limestone. The vineyards face south and are protected by the surrounding mountain peaks from the wet weather coming off the Atlantic. The cool and wet springs are balanced by an “Indian summer” that allows the full ripening of the grapes into October.

The Branas started as wine and spirits negociants in the Pays Basque in 1897, an activity that continues today. A few generations on, in 1974, Etienne Brana decided to plant a pear orchard and build a distillery in Saint Jean Pied de Port that would focus on distilling local fruits such as pears, plums and raspberries. Ten years later in 1984 and one hundred years after phyloxera ravaged the Basque vineyards, Etienne planted 20 hectares of vines, making the Branas the first in Irouleguy to replant on a meaningful scale. Tragically in 1992, the year before the completion of the Brana’s stunning winery, built into the steep hills above Saint Jean Pied de Port, Etienne died. He left his wife, Adrienne, and their two children, Martine and Jean, to carry on with his projects. Jean took over the vineyards and winemaking after studying oenology and then interning with Basque neighbor and winemaker at Chateau Petrus, Jean-Claude Berrouet. Martine took over the sourcing of fruit and the distilling. Most recently, in 2018 a new structure was built housing a new distillery and tasting room. The accomplishments of the Brana family are recognized not only in the Pays Basque, but internationally and their Eaux-de-Vies are considered among the best in France.

Jean Brana’s farming philosophy could be called bio-diverse. He gave up his certification of organic farming because the treatment of his vines required an application of copper that produced toxicity in his soils. He also abandoned most of the bio-dynamic remedies he employed, moving instead to a biodiversity that encouraged the natural flora and fauna to co-exist with the vines. The result has been the return of insects and birds that hadn’t been seen in the vineyard for years as well as one hundred and ten plant species that co-habit with the vines. To celebrate this development, Jean redesigned all the wine labels so that each one features one of the indigenous birds found in the vineyards.

Irouleguy Blanc “Ilori”

The Irouleguy Blanc “Ilori” cuvée varies a bit according to the vintage. It is always primarily Gros Manseng, 50% to 70%, with Petit Courbu and Petit Manseng making up the balance. The Branas are one of the few families to have replanted the Petit Courbu. It is a traditional varietal of the region but has trouble with the wet and unpredictable spring weather and is not terribly productive. Fermentation with indigenous yeasts is preceded by a gentle maceration of the skins “maceration pellicullaire” and a settling of the must “debourbage”. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and rests “sur lie” until bottling the following spring. Ilori is the basque word for daffodil.

Irouleguy Blanc “Domaine”

The Irouleguy Blanc “Domaine” cuvée is a blend of 70% Gros Manseng and 15% each of Petit Manseng and Petit Courbu. The grapes are selected from vineyards in the higher elevations with Gros Manseng planted in soils of compressed sandstone called “argilite” and the Petit Manseng and Petit Courbu planted in limestone soils. Using indigenous yeast, the wine is fermented 70% in stainless steel and 30% in barrel. The wine stays in contact with the lies for nine months before an assemblage is made. The wine is filtered but not fined before bottling in June.

Irouleguy Rosé “Harri Gorri”

The Harri Gorri Rosé cuvée varies a bit according to the vintage. But it always seems to be a blend of at least 50% Tannat and the remaining percentage Cabernet Franc. The wine incorporates both the “saignée” method, with a maceration sufficient to give a deep color, good body and lots of spice and “direct press” which yields a juice with little color and delicate aromas. The Brana Rosé is not bottled until the summer and is normally sold in the U.S. market the following spring. “Harri Gorri” is basque for red stones and refers to the red sandstone found locally in Irouleguy.

Irouleguy Rouge “Ohitza”

The Irouleguy Rouge “Ohitza” cuvée is typically made from 50% Tannat and 50% Cabernet Franc. The parcels are from sandstone soils at mid-elevation. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel with a maceration of around seventeen days. The wine is aged 70% in barrels of 3/4/5 years and 30% in cement tanks. Every three months the wine is racked and assembled and then redivided among the barrels and tanks. After a year, a final assemblage is made which then continues to mature in barrel and tank until bottling in June, eighteen months after harvest. Ohitza is the basque word for tradition.

Irouleguy Rouge “Domaine”

The Irouleguy Rouge “Domaine” cuvée is typically a blend of 60% Cabernet Franc and 20% each of Cabernet Sauvignon and Tannat. The parcels are on both sandstone and limestone soils. Fermentation is done with indigenous yeasts and maceration lasts for two to three weeks. The wine is aged in barrels for twelve months with rackings done every three months. Jean Brana uses primarily barrels that are one year old, but includes in the mix a small proportion of both older barrels and new barrels.

Vin de France “Bizi Berri”

The cuvée “Bizi Berri” is produced from the native varieties; Arrouya and Erremaxaoua. Originally the blend included Axeria (Cabernet Franc), but after a few vintages the Axeria was dropped. This was done in part because the French government wouldn’t allow the name “Axeria” to appear on the label in place of the French synonym, “Cabernet Franc.” The wine is produced from a mere 1,000 plants grown at high elevation in soils of red sandstone. Fermentation is done in stainless steel tanks with a maceration of up to two weeks. The wine matures for 18 months before being blended and bottled. Production is two barrels. “Bizi Berri” is basque for “new life.”


Eric Asimov is back from Irouléguy. He writes an article in today's "Dining and Wine" section featuring the appellation and its top producers, including Domaine Brana. Also the photographs in the online slideshow are quite beautiful, very worth a look. Link:


Splendor in Solitude

The Wines of Irouléguy, in French Basque Country

JULY 29, 2014

Slide Show

The Wines of Irouléguy

The Pour


ST.-ÉTIENNE-DE-BAÏGORRY, France — On a Saturday morning, this village in the French Pyrenees seems like any other small French town. Shoppers wend through the outdoor market while tourists snap photos. But resounding above the ordinary fray are the cries of young men playingpelote, a game akin to jai alai.

On an outdoor fronton, or court, adjacent to the market, using a basket shaped like a scimitar, they hurl a hard ball against a wall; it ricochets skyward at incredible speeds, sometimes flying onto the street, obliging passers-by to keep their heads up. Taking it all in, you realize that St.-Étienne, in the heart of Irouléguy in French Basque Country, is a different kind of place.

So it is with the wines of Irouléguy (ee-RHOO-lay-ghee), very much part of the constellation of appellations found in the southwest of France yet separate and distinct. It’s not that the grapes are different — the reds are made of tannat, as in Madiran, and cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, as in Bordeaux and Bergerac. Whites are made of gros manseng, petit manseng and petit courbu, as in Jurançon.

Yet the land, the climate, the language and the culture remain apart, isolated by the Pyrenees, which wrinkle upward in a confluence of steep, verdant slopes like the sides of a giant bowl, containing this land of picturesque towns, rivers and patchwork farms. The wine expresses those differences as plainly as the Basque differs from the French on the region’s dual-language signs.

I have been obsessed with the wines of Irouléguy for five years. It began with a visit to Bordeaux, where a restaurateur, recognizing that two friends and I were in the region professionally, plied us with a series of wines that he was producing. They were glossy, oaky things, modern and generic, not at all what I would have chosen to drink given the chance. As a refresher before the next round, he offered a rosé from Irouléguy, practically dismissing it as a palate cleanser.

Some palate cleanser! Unlike the Bordeaux, this wine was fascinating. It was refreshing, sure, but it tasted almost like blood and iron, with rocks thrown in for good measure. Amid the parade of banality, this rosé stood out as a formidable wine of great character.

Back home, I set about tracking down as many wines from Irouléguy as I could. There weren’t many. Irouléguy is a tiny appellation, about as far southwest as you can go in France. Though I found just a handful, the wines were almost always compelling.

Mostly, they are reds, yet not the inky black, tannic monsters typical of Madiran. Rather, they are limber, marked as much by acidity as by tannins, with an almost exotic flavor of flowers and red fruits laced with that bloody iron tang. I found them rustic in the best sense of the word, genuine and forthright, without the finesse, perhaps, of the wines of the Médoc or Graves, but also without the artifice.

The whites were tougher to find but equally irresistible. They may have tasted like flowers and yellow fruits, but they weren’t fruity. Instead, they were savory, sometimes saline, yet fresh and lively. And the rosés: The few I could find reinforced that initial impression of elemental wines of the earth, worthy of aging, unlike most ephemeral rosés. I resolved that I had to visit Irouléguy to see for myself the soil from which these wines emerged, and the people who shaped them.

So it was in June that Irouléguy unfolded before me in all its pastoral splendor. Sheep and cattle grazed on the sharp-angled pastures, next to fields of grain and an occasional orchard. Rivers gurgled along, and though Irouléguy is known for frequent rain, the weather over the course of four days was sunny and hot.

St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the other major town, is an embarkation point forthe Camino de Santiago, the Christian pilgrimage route that leads to the shrine of St. James at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. Dozens of backpackers, preparing for their spiritual walk, wander the main streets. It all reinforced Irouléguy’s Brigadoon-like quality of otherworldliness.

Vineyards are not a dominant feature here, as they are in so many wine regions. They are simply one facet of an agricultural way of life, as perhaps they were centuries ago in those other places before wine became an industry. And yet the handful of excellent estates that do focus on wine, like Domaine Ilarria, Maison Arretxea and Domaine Brana, are resolute, seeing it more as a calling than a business.

Peio Espil, the grandson of vignerons, started Ilarria in the 1980s, painstakingly constructing terraces on precipitous limestone slopes so he could plant vines. He is a follower of the Japanese agronomist Masanobu Fukuoka, who before his death in 2008 preached a hands-off style of farming that paradoxically requires constant vigilance in the vineyard. In the cellar, Mr. Espil operates in a similar style, avoiding manipulations and, as much as possible, the use of sulfur dioxide, a common wine preservative. Yet his wines are rock stable, and they show an intricate sense of detail that is rare in any region.

"I try to work as naturally as possible," he said as we walked in the vineyard. He described the soil as rich in calcium, iron and magnesium. "It’s healthy for wine and for life," he said.

His wines radiate minerality. The rosé is superb, complex and lasting, as is the lively, intense white and the vibrant, pure red. In the best years, he makes a special red cuvée, Bixintxo. The 2009, still a baby, was substantial yet elegant, with the signature elemental flavors that stamp the wines of the region.

Only about 500 acres of grapes are farmed in Irouléguy, equal to a couple of good-size Bordeaux estates and half as much as a century ago, when phylloxera, a ravenous aphid, devastated the vines. Grapes were not grown on a meaningful scale again until 1984, when Étienne Brana, whose family distilled eau de vie, planted a vineyard on red sandstone and began to make wine independent of the local cooperative.

Today, Domaine Brana, run by Étienne’s children, Jean and Martine, produces lively, excellent wines, including a refreshing Ilori white and an Ohitza red that is beautifully balanced and graceful.

For advice, the Branas often go to a family friend, Jean-Claude Berrouet, who for many years oversaw the winemaking at Château Pétrus, the acclaimed Pomerol estate. Mr. Berrouet, whose father grew cherries in Irouléguy, has consulted with winemakers all over the world. But his desire, he said, was always to return to the land of his heritage. In 1992, he planted four and a half acres of sandstone terraces, primarily with white grapes, and produced his first vintage in 1998. He called his wine Herri Mina, which essentially translates as homesick for the country.

"My story is sentimental," he said. "I have a nostalgic feeling for this region."

Mr. Berrouet aims for grace and balance, making what he calls "nonsophisticated wines, without technology." He is passionate about tea, and sees it as an analogy for the structure and aromatic expression he seeks in wine.

"If you steep tea too long, you lose it," he said. "Balance and modest extraction are crucial to guard the nobility of the wine."

Indeed, his 2013 Herri Mina white is beautifully balanced and lip-smacking, with savory fruit flavors. He also makes a bit of red, entirely cabernet franc, with stony red fruit flavors and impeccable tension and harmony.

Despite the initial success of Domaine Brana, it was not easy to resurrect the local wine industry. Michel Riouspeyrous of Maison Arretxea, the grandson of a vigneron, and his wife, Thérèse, remembered the difficulty of trying to plant vines 25 years ago. "The banks would lend money for cows and sheep, which they understood," he said, "but not for wine."

They persevered and now own about 20 acres, which they supplement with grapes bought from a friend. Searching and experimental, Mr. Riouspeyrous is quick to describe the 40 kinds of soil on his property. He began practicing biodynamic viticulture in 2008.

The wines are superb, including a deeply colored, delicious rosé, an almost-exotic white and an energetic, earthy red. A red cuvée, Haitza, is made from older vines. The 2011 was richly flavored and expressive, with great aging potential.

Wine is not the only intriguing product of Irouléguy. Bixintxo Aphaule started as a winemaker, but now, with his wife, Pascale, he devotes himself to making cider, which he calls "another leitmotif of the land." He believes that cider can be as expressive of terroir as wine is, provided that you have a diversity of trees planted on the right soils, and that you work organically.

"It’s necessary for the aromas, not a commercial question," he said.

He makes three different vintage ciders under the Bordatto label, and all are well worth seeking out, particularly the elegant, concentrated Txalaparta.

What did it taste like? As with the wines, the people and the game of pelote, it was pure Irouléguy.

Here are some notable producers of Irouléguy wine and cider, which are difficult to find but worth seeking out.

AMEZTIA Exuberant, tannic reds; about $20. (De Maison Selections, Chapel Hill, N.C.)

MAISON ARRETXEA Refreshing whites, earthy reds, delicious rosés; about $25. (Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant, Berkeley, Calif.)

BORDATTO Exceptional ciders; about $20. (De Maison Selections)

DOMAINE BRANA Lively whites; subtle, age-worthy reds, $25 to $30. (Wine Traditions, Falls Church, Va.)

HERRI MINA Savory whites; stony, impeccable reds; $25 to $30. (Martine’s Wines, Novato, Calif.)

DOMAINE ILARRIA Complex rosés, minerally whites, superb reds; $20 to $30. (Thomas Calder Selection/Moonlight Wine, New York)

Email: And follow Eric Asimov on Twitter: @EricAsimov.

A version of this article appears in print on July 30, 2014, on page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: Splendor in Solitude. Order Reprints|Today's Paper|Subscribe

5 Wines to try from Southwestern France

The husband-and-wife team of Ed Addiss and Barbara Selig have specialized in importing wines from southwestern France under their Falls Church-based Wine Traditions label, representing family-owned wineries that use environmentally friendly farming to produce wines that reflect individuality and terroir. They give Washington area wine lovers a unique opportunity to explore this region. — D.M.

Domaine Brana Ohitza 2010

★★1 / 2

Irouleguy, France, $22

This blend is 80 percent tannat, the rest cabernet franc. Its structure speaks of the mountains (Irouleguy is nestled among the foothills of the Pyrenees), yet the cab franc lends a softness and a Bordeaux sensibility that makes the wine eminently accessible now, while easily worthy of five or six years in your cellar.

Clos Fardet Madiran 2010

★★1 / 2

Madiran, France, $18

Madiran is happily situated to enjoy the cool climatic influence of the Atlantic as well as the warmth from the Mediterranean. Its tannat-based wines are closer in style to those of Virginia: rich, tannic and ripe, with bright red fruit and a dense earthiness to keep the flavors grounded. The Clos Fardet shows dark berry fruit with an appealing stony character.

Domaine du Cros Cuvee Vieilles Vignes 2010


Marcillac, France, $18

Made entirely from the fer servadou grape, this is almost nutty, with a roasted character over ripe dark-fruit flavors. There’s an appealing liveliness that suggests authenticity and honesty. It tastes as though someone’s hands were involved in its production.

Camin Larredya Au Capceu 2010


Jurancon, France, $35

This sweet dessert wine made entirely from the petit manseng grape could be the poor man’s Sauternes: rich and honeyed, without the sublime knee-buckling focus, to be sure, but also without the knee-buckling price tag. This is a model for sweet wines from this grape in Virginia. Camin Larredya also makes delicious dry wines from gros manseng and petit manseng at more affordable prices.

Wine Traditions Ltd.:

Available in the District at Cork Market, MacArthur Beverages; on the list at Cork Wine Bar.

Available in Virginia at Arrowine and Whole Foods Market in Arlington, at the Wine Cabinet in Reston; on the list at Bastille in Alexandria.


Drink in southwestern France

Dave McIntyre MAR 19

With their combination of history, geography and ethnic culture, the wines are a must for "travelers."

Southwest France is a bit off the beaten track, in travel and in wine. When wine lovers go to France — and by that I mean the French shelves at our local wine store — we gravitate toward Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne and the Rhone Valley. The hipsters among us long for the Loire, while more old-fashioned enogeeks reach for Alsace. Most of us don’t get to the southwest, which is too bad, because the wines can be as delicious as the scenery is spectacular.

So the next time you feel like traveling by corkscrew, ask your retailer to take you to Irouleguy, Fronton, Madiran or Jurancon. You’ll taste unfamiliar grapes such as negrette, tannat and fer servadou, reds that produce wine at once perfumed and rugged. Gros and petit manseng produce aromatic whites that range from dry and delicate to unctuously sweet.

These aren’t the stylish wines of classed-growth Bordeaux chateaux, nor do they have the sublime luxury of premier cru Burgundy. But they are honest, tasting as though they were grown and produced in a particular place instead of according to a recipe. They are what some people might call "weeknight wines," because they are inexpensive and uncomplicated. You don’t need to worry about which foods to match with them; almost anything works. They won’t take you too far out of your comfort zone. Most are blended with familiar grapes such as cabernet franc, malbec and syrah.

And it’s fun to say Irouleguy (ee-ROO-luh-ghee). That appellation name is one of the easier words to pronounce on the labels of the excellent Domaine Brana. The wine names reflect the Basque influence of the region; they include the Ohitza red blend, made from tannat that’s tamed with 20 percent cabernet franc.

Exploring southwestern France gives me an excuse to consult my favorite travel primer, "Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours," by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding and Jose Vouillamoz (HarperCollins, 2012), more an encyclopedic tome than a pocket travel guide, to be sure.

Tannat, for example, is known for its high tannin (the mouth-puckering, drying factor in red wine), though its name may refer to its dark color. Micro-oxygenation, the modern technique of bubbling small amounts of air into young wine to soften the tannins, was developed in Madiran, the appellation most known for tannat.

Fer servadou, or simply fer, derives from the Latin word for wild, and this grape is the genetic grandparent of carmenere, now popular in Chile. It shines at Domaine du Cros in Marcillac, an appellation that enjoys climatic influence of both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Negrette, as its name suggests, is another dark-colored grape, though more aromatic and less brooding than tannat. It is blended successfully with syrah, cabernet sauvignon and malbec at Chateau Bouissel in Fronton. While fer servadou may be native to southwestern France, negrette is thought to have been brought back from the Crusades by the Knights Templar.

If some of these grape names sound familiar, you might be hearing their Virginia accent. Tannat and fer servadou were planted in the 1990s by vintners eager to experiment with grape varieties that could ripen well in Virginia’s humid climate and contribute color and tannin to its sometimes pallid red wines. Today they show up in wines produced by Chrysalis, Hillsborough and Fabbioli Cellars in Loudoun County, as well as Delaplane Cellars in Fauquier County and Horton Vineyards in Orange County. Varietally labeled tannat can be quite good in Virginia.

Virginia is also making nice wine from petit manseng, a floral white grape that survives well against humidity and ripens with high acidity and sugar levels. In France, the grape plays a minor supporting role to gros manseng in the white wines of Jurancon. Those range from dry, fruity whites to unctuously sweet dessert wines.

With their combination of history, geography and ethnic culture in the glass, the wines of southwest France are too delicious to leave off your travel itinerary.

Wine Traditions Ltd. 2012 Rosés

2012 Château Jouclary, Cabardès Rosé

2012 Domaine Monte de Marie, "Anatheme" VDT Rosé

2012 Domaine Roumagnac "Authentique" Fronton Rosé

2012 Domaine des Terrisses, Gaillac Rosé

2012 Domaine Brana, Irouleguy Rosé 6pk

2012 Domaine de Berane, Côtes du Ventoux Rosé

Château Jouclary, Cabardès Rosé

Château Jouclary is a blend of 40% Cabernet Franc, 40% Grenache and 20% Cinsault. The grapes are harvested early in the morning to avoid any oxidation. Once in the vat house, they are gently pressed and then fermented at low temperatures. The wine has a pale salmon color and is enticingly aromatic with scents of red currant, citrus and exotic fruit. The flavors of fresh fruit are supported by a good structure and acidity that allows the wine to remain buoyant and fresh throughout the palate.

Domaine Mont de Marie, "Anatheme" VDT Rosé

Made of 100% Aramon from 100 year old vines. The vines are pruned "en gobelet" or goblet/bush-pruning, as is traditional in the Languedoc, and cultivated respecting the authenticity of the terroir. This wine is made with naturally occurring yeasts, vinified without sulfur and with no oenological input.

The nose is immediate and aromatic of small red fruits, in the mouth it is unctuous, fresh and crisp, it finishes with suggestions of caramel and a touch of liquorice.

Domaine Roumagnac, Fronton Rosé Authentique

Domaine Roumagnac Rosé Authentique is a blend of 50% Négrette, 30% Syrah, 20% Cabernet, harvested during the night in order to preserve their aromatic freshness. Made in the "saignée method, the wine sees a short maceration resulting in a transparent coppery-pink color. From the first juice, the most noble and fruity, the nose is of red berry and citrus fruits (red currants and grapefruit).

Domaine Roumagnac’s vineyards are the very same on which were planted the first Négrette vines in the 12th century, on soils of alluvial gravel, which give the wines authentic fruit aromatics and a natural suppleness. Farmed naturally, with grasses growing among the vines and with the advantage of the natural drainage of their parcels, yields are kept low in order to extract full potential of the fruit, and to preserve the soil and its geological riches from erosion.

Work in the vineyard is manual and quite intensive, making for the closest possible monitoring of the progress of the vines in the field. Vinification is traditional in resin lined cement vats. Varieties are vinified separately, then blended before bottling.

Domaine des Terrisses, Gaillac Rosé

Domaine des Terrisses is a blend of 60% Syrah, 20% Braucol and 20% Duras. The average age of the vines is 25 years. The syrah for this wine comes from a parcel on the plain, harvested when just ripe, offering a balance of fruit, suppleness and freshness. Extraction by « pressurage » or pressing results in a very light color. The juice from Duras and Braucol grapes, harvested later from hillside parcels, are obtained by the « saignée » method. The different grape varieties are fermented separately at low temperatures , allowed to settle naturally for 5 months and racked several times before blending and bottling. The wine has aromas of strawberries and rasberries and on the palate it combines stone fruit with more savory flavors. The wine has a balance and structure that will allow it to improve for a year.

Domaine Brana, Irouleguy Rosé

The Brana "Harri Gorri" Rosé is produced from 70% Tannat and 30% Cabernet Franc. The cuvee name "Harri Gorri" is Basque for red stones and refers to the red sandstone found locally in the Basque Pyrénées Atlantiques. The wine is produced using the "saignée" method with maceration sufficient to give the wine a deep color and good body. The scents are typically Basque with floral and earthy vying for "first out of the glass." The earthy aromas are mirrored on the palate which is lifted by stone fruit, lots of spice and lingering citrus notes on the finish

Domaine de Berane, Côtes du Ventoux Rosé

Domaine de Berane Rosé of Haute Provence is a blend of 85% Old Vines Grenache (41 years) and 15% Mourvedre (12 years). The vineyards are located 330 meters above Mediterranean sea level, next to Mont Ventoux, the largest mountain in the Provence region. The cool nights at harvest time here permit Bertrand and Anne Claire to obtain amazing freshness in their wines,.

The vines are tended organically with out pesticides or herbacides. The grapes were harvested late in September with excellent maturity and balance. The same approach is used in the winery as in the vineyard, avoiding the use of any additional products so that the fermentations remain entirely natural. The rosé is produced by combining two methods of vinification ; extraction by "pressurage" for the Grenache and by "saignée" for the Mourvedre.

The wine is pale with a slight orange tinge. The scents tend toward stone fruits with citric overtones. The wine is delicate on the palate with strong mineral and saline notes both providing a long, refreshing finish.

Chez Pascal presents:

Wurst Wine Tasting

Monday, September 17

6:00pm - 8:00pm

ed & barbara.

we anxiously await

their arrival.

In collaboration with our friends at Campus Wines, this will be a fun, casual, mingle about, wine sipping, wurst nibbling evening. We will be trying 5 fantastic wines from one of our favorite importers. If you have been to a few of our wine events before you will remember Barbara & Ed of Wine Traditions and their wealth of information and unique and wonderful wines.

Come, mingle, taste wine and enjoy some of our new wurst offerings out of the Wurst Kitchen.

The tasting will be held in our Wurst Kitchen

& side dining room.

Wines we will be tasting:

Domaine du Pas Saint Martin, La Vie en Rose, sparkling

Domaine Brana, Harri Gorri, Irouleguy Rose

Domaine Grosbot-Barbara, La Vreladiere, Saint Pourcin Blanc

Domaine Grosbot-Barbara, Chambre d'Edouard, Saint Pourcin Rouge

Domaine Philemon, La Croix de la Bouscarie, Gaillac Rouge

The price is $45 per person and this INCLUDES the wine, hors d'oeuvres from the Wurst Kitchen, tax and gratuity!

Please call Chez Pascal for reservations. Payment for this event will be taken in advance with a credit card, non refundable but you can certainly pass your reservation on to a friend.

Our 2011 Rosés are here- reconnecting us to summer long days and gentle weather time to share with friends...

Château Jouclary, Cabardès Rosé

Château Jouclary is a blend of 40% Merlot, 30% Syrah and 30% Grenache and is produced by combining two methods of vinification, or more precisely, extraction. Known as the "saignée" method, the Grenache grapes begin a traditional vinification but with skin maceration lasting only about 12 hours after which the juice is drained to continue its fermentation without the solids. The Merlot and Syrah are produced using "pressurage," like white wines where the juice is pressed from the grapes before fermentation begins. The wine has a pale salmon color and is enticingly aromatic with scents of red currant, citrus and exotic fruit. The flavors of fresh fruit are supported by a good structure and acidity that allows the wine to remain buoyant and fresh throughout the palate.

Château Bellevue La Forêt, Fronton Rosé

Château Bellevue La Forêt is a blend of 60% Negrette, 20% Gamay, 10% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Franc. The different varieties are picked separately by parcel in the early morning to maximize freshness. They are gently pressed upon reception and then vinified separately at low temperatures. Following an "elevage sur lies" an assemblage is made. The local negrette grape gives the wine both its luminous strawberry color and lively floral aromas. The supple mouth feel supports flavors ranging from orchard fruit to notes of herbs and spices.

Domaine des Terrisses, Gaillac Rosé

Domaine des Terrisses is a blend of 60% Syrah, 20% Braucol and 20% Duras. 2011 was a particularly hot and dry year in Gaillac and Alain Cazottes picked the Syrah for the Rosé very early and instead of using the saignée method as usual; he gently pressed the grapes before fermenting them at low temperatures. For the Braucol and Duras he used the saignée method with maceration lasting about 12 hours. The different grape varieties were fermented separately at low temperatures allowed to settle naturally for 5 months and racked several times before blending and bottling. The 2011 vintage is particularly light in color, "provençalesque," and combines stone fruit with more savory flavors. Despite its delicate nature, the wine has a balance and structure that will allow it to improve for a year.

Domaine de Berane, Côtes du Ventoux Rosé

Domaine de Berane is a blend of 90% Grenache and 10% Mourvedre. It is produced by combining two methods of vinification, or more precisely, extraction with 70% by "pressurage" and 30% by "saignée". The grapes were harvested late in September with excellent maturity and balance. The wine is pale with a slight orange tinge. The scents tend toward stone fruits with citric overtones. The wine is delicate on the palate with strong mineral and saline notes both providing a long refreshing finish.

Domaine Brana, Irouleguy Rosé

The Brana "Harri Gorri" Rosé is produced from 70% Tannat and 30% Cabernet Franc. The cuvee name "Harri Gorri" is basque for red stones and refers to the red sandstone found locally in the Basque Pyrénées Atlantiques. The wine is produced using the "saignée" method with maceration sufficient to give the wine a deep color and good body. The scents are typically Basque with floral and earthy vying for first out of the glass. The earthy aromas are mirrored on the palate lifted by stone fruit, lots of spice and lingering citrus notes on the finish.

Region: Southwest

The wine appellations of southwest France are spread throughout ten different “départments”. The Romans called the area Aquitania, “land of waters”, and it has been described as the area of few roads but many rivers. This group of appellations is certainly the most far ranging and diverse to be brought together under one geographical umbrella...

Although the area is spread out, it is given contours by its impressive natural boundaries. The great mountain range known as the Massif Central forms the eastern boundary. This vast range gives rise to the Dordogne, the Lot and the Tarn rivers, which flow westward toward the Atlantic Ocean and have been so crucial to the development of the region’s vineyards. The southern extreme is formed by the Pyrénées, the source of the Garonne River whose northern route passes through Toulouse and Bordeaux. The region is met on its western edge by the Atlantic Ocean.

Within the southwest of France there are many cultural and culinary traditions. Around Toulouse one finds a distinctly southern, “Provençal” influence, while the Pyrénées is home to the Basque culture as well as the Béarnaise. Further north one passes through Gascony on route to Bordeaux and Périgord.

When the French talk about abandoning the charms of nouvelle cuisine for good old country cooking or “cuisine du terroir”, the Southwest is the first “terroir” that springs to mind. Not surprisingly, the wines of southwest France also offer a welcome antidote to “nouvelle” wines and we have chosen to work with vignerons who prefer to refine the quality of their traditional wines rather than abandon them. Many of the appellations in the Southwest have ancient and illustrious histories such as the Gaillac vineyards which date back to the Gauls and were widely planted by the Romans in the first century. In the fourteenth century over half the wine shipped from the port of Bordeaux was from the Cahors region. Reflective of the cultural diversity is the diversity of wine styles and grape varieties grown in the Southwest, many of which are particular to their appellations. Red varieties from the Carmenet family such as Fer Servadou, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc are grown throughout the region as well as Tannat, Malbec and Negrette from the Cotoïdes family. White varieties of the region include Len de l’el, Mauzac, Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng. There is a bucolic quality in this corner of France, a quality which is mirrored in the rich tapestry of terroirs and local grape varieties that produce these most savory, delicious and charming wines.