What southwest French wines should I look for in the Basque Country?
We will be staying six nights in a b and b outside of St.-Jean-de-Luz and another three nights in a b and b south of Lourdes. We will try to hit a top restaurant or two but mostly we will look for the good value ones with local wines. Any suggestions of what to look for?
In the Basque country the appelation Irouleguy is probably most prominent for red wines. I have had good luck with the following producers: Brana, Arretxea, and Mignaberry. These tend to be kind of rustic full bodied wines.
Also in the same general area is the appelation Madiran. Chateau Montus and Chateau d'Aydie are very good Madiran wines.
For whites I am not so sure other than the sweet wines of Jurancon and Pacherenc du Vic Bihl which are quite good.
My guess is that not a lot of output from this part of France is exported, especially to the US, so there are probably a lot of undiscovered (so to speak) wines to be had there. I mostly know these from ordering wines at Basque restaurants in Paris, except the Arretxea, which I have a case of from 2003 but have not yet sampled.
The most recent issue of Wine Spectator (the one before the restaurant issue) has a section devoted to Basque wines and wineries. Also has recommendations about restaurants, etc.