Saint-Jean de Luz
Egia Tegia Estate. Emmanuel Poirmeur doesn’t respect any norms, he cannot be categorized yet is full of class. A surprising trajectory for this elitist young man, oenologist, scientist, who having spent time with the best, recognised by his peers, trained with Moet and Chandon and in Argentina, decided to take the leap and to mix the future of wine and the sea. The example of the elders perhaps? The Roman amphorae that sank in the sea were well preserved. Emmanuel had poured a lot of thought into this and evaluated all the parameters for the immersion of wine barrels in the waters of the port of Socoa with the tides of the sea. Working with and around the fishermen, some more supportive than others, his project saw the light of day. His vineyards, planted almost only with Chardonnay grapes, on the hills of the district of Urrugne, dominates the coast and flourishes from the sea spray. Traces of old vineyards remain on the Basque coast. Emmanuel is planting new ones. The site for his wine store is none other than the old gunpowder building in the port of Socoa that dates from the XVIIth century. For the vinification process, his barrels made from cement are submerged off the coast at 12 metre depths. Absolutely exceptional, unprecedented, producing a white wine full of youth and promise that will soon be a reference. The first vines planted in 2009 produced the Egia Tegia (Workshop of Truth) blend in 2011. An exemplary vintage that produces a well honed wine with light bubbles, full of aromas and citrus fruit. Visits by appointment. firstname.lastname@example.org
The Terrasse du Madrid. Full sun at lunchtime, it is the place to be and enjoy the postcard view over the port of Ciboure, whilst devouring a sumptuous seafood platters or a sea bass encrusted with sea salt. Georges Mailharo, its owner, takes special care to ensure his fish and seafood are of the utmost freshness. We trust him blindly.
Villa Leihorra. This Art Deco masterpiece, by the architect Hiriart, is open to the public as an exceptional guest house. A classified historical monument after a very long renovation, this villa-museum will please the most fortunate. Exceptional in its purity of design and its style, Leihorra, property of the Lannes family, has kept its original furniture. The central patio covered in blue, white and gold mosaics with stained glass designed by Jacques Gruber and the extraordinary bathroom all tiled in glass are worthy of a visit, or an overnight stay. email@example.com
Adam. Macaroons! Founded in the XVIIth century, the maison has preserved the secret recipe for the smooth and fondant macaroons for over four centuries. It is thought they were Louis XIV sweets. Rue de la République. Tel.: +33 5 59 26 03 54 www.macaron-adam.com
The Kaïku. Located in one of the oldest houses, dating from 1543, the Kaiku is the trendiest restaurant in St Jean de Luz. The Gault and Millau guide gave it a “toque”. “A clever blend of Basque tradition and inventive and current cuisine that will seduce you “. 17 avenue de la République. Tel.: +33 5 59 26 13 20
The weaving mills of Luz. The family has weaved cushions, tablecloths, curtains since 1908. Keeping in with the tradition of beautiful craft, Maité Fanfare and her son Jêrome have modernised the creations with a line full of colour. The large canvas beach bags are a great success. Their workshop is at Espelette and the shop in Saint Jean de Luz. www.tissagedeluz.com
The Pepper workshop. Espelette is the capital of hot pepper. Everywhere in the village, pepper chains decorate the porches of Basque houses. When visiting the workshop you will discover that hot pepper can be used as powder, sauce, preserved. Ramuntxo Pochelu innovates by associating the hot pepper with criollo, the queen cocoa bean. Its chocolate bars are deliciously spicy. The products carry the label Max Havellar and organically certified. www.atelier-du-piment-espelette.fr
Artiga. Basque linen as we like it, fresh, coloured and of the highest quality. A nice shop where the whole collection is on display alongside some designs from previous years that never go out of style. Tel.: +33 5 59 93 81 72 www.maisonartiga.com.fr
Do stop at the artisan village of Osses, on the road that follows the river Nive from Bayonne to Saint Etienne de Baigorry.
Goicocchea. A large space that features pottery and ceramics in all shapes and colours. Enormous clay jars and contemporary potteries, whose stylish designs are inspired from Japanese pots and look smashing to decorate your garden or house. www.poterie-goicoecha.com
Arnabar. Foie gras, geese, ducks and preserves, the shop is a window for local farm produce.
Don Quichosse. One cannot leave the Basque country without a pair of cotton espadrilles, so chic in the summer. They come in every colour to match the fashion of the day but are still made in striped canvas and raffia cord and many stores stock them. Best to choose those that are traditionally made, which doesn’t mean they can’t be trendy!
La Ferme Gourmande. La ferme Gourmande is buried in the hills at the end of a narrow road that leads you up into the mountain. Luckily, the route is signposted. The place is discreet but very renowned and one must book in advance. After years of travelling, Henri Amestoy went back to his native land. We thank him for this as it means we can discover with great pleasure original dishes that are full of surprises. Prawns are wrapped in a pistachio crust. Yellowtail comes garnished with parsnips and cream of ceps. Pigeon is cooked with sweet vanilla, a real alchemy of flavours. A delight! Tel.: +33 5 59 37 77 32 www.restaurant-fermegourmande.com
Saint-Jean Pied de Port
Brana Estate. The lord of the Irouléguy is called Brana, Brana father and sons. Winegrowers, distillers, Jean Etienne, then Etienne and now Jean run the estate. Under Etienne, the estate focused on liquors. He started a distillery and planted an orchard with Williams pears. His pear liquor is unique. His son Jean started producing Irouléguy following sustainable agriculture principles. He plants vineyards with traditional tannât grape plants while researching older grape varieties that have existed ever since the origins of vines and reintroduces them. A perfect example is the Bizi Beorie (New Life) blend from varieties that have disappeared from the camarou family. A red wine that emerges as spicy and peppery silky on the palate, whilst remaining feminine and elegant. The wine store in Ispoure, backing onto the Roncevaux pass and located in a Navarre tower, houses ultra modern installations and a tasting room. Visits of the vineyard and wine store with slideshow, tastings and sale of wine every day in July and August and by appointment. Tel.: +33 5 59 37 00 44 www.brana.fr
Mourguy Estate. In their beautiful and solid Navarre house, the Mourguy family holds the culture of vines in their hearts and produces character wines. Nine hectares of vineyards on the slopes of the Arradou, passed on from father to son and daughter. Red and rosé wines made from a majority of tannât grapes blended with cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon grapes to bring out the aromas and flavours of fruit. The Pyrenees donkeys live alongside the Irouléguy vineyard on the estate and tours of the vineyards on donkey-back are organised. A tour that is followed by wine tastings at the house. A lovely idea that will go far. Open all year round and by appointment. Tel.: + 33 5 59 37 06 23 www.domainemourguy.com
Domaine Arretxea. Arretxea designates a stone house in the Basque language. The one on the estate dates from 1624 is remarkable. The estate is renowned for the constant monitoring and quality of its Irouléguy. Thérèse and Michel Riouspeyrous wanted to be farmers and winegrowers. A dream they accomplished and went much further. They planted eight hectares of vineyards that clung to the mountain and produced their first vintage in 1993. Five years later, they were organically certified and the estate is run according to biodynamic principles. The label on their emblematic bottle depicts the grape harvests, the sun, the stepped vineyards and the grape press, the four elements essential to the production of wine. Just one blend in white Hegoxuri (white from the south) leans towards a range of exotic and citrus fruits, a full bodied and very mineral wine. Both blends of red are so dark in colour, they are almost black, crunchy, with aromas of cherry and blackcurrant; wines to put down. Visits and tastings by appointment. Tel.: +33 5 59 37 33 67
Etxegaraya Estate. At the foot of the Jara, in a small valley, Marienna Hillau cultivates seven hectares of stepped vines on the side of a steep mountainside. The first plots, old vines of tannât variety, date from 1850. In the middle of a river of vines, the estate with its XIXth century Basque house produces four cuvées. A rosé and three reds with tannât grapes that Marianna blends with cabernet franc and sauvignon grapes. The Etxegaraya blend (the house of above) and the Lehengoa blend (In times gone by) are reds that are straight and full of character in line with the spirit of the region. The rosé, Aitaina, a vibrant wine, created in memory of her father. Visits and tastings from Monday to Saturday. Tel.: +33 5 59 37 23 76. www.domaine-etxegaraya.fr
Irouléguy priory. The priory was built in the XIIth century by the monks of Roncevaux abbey. Monks, who are at the origin of the cultivation and expansion of vines. On the hilltops, only the chapel remains, surrounded by the cemetery with stunning discoid stela. From there, you can see the superb rolling landscape with the Irouléguy vineyards.
Tambourin. A family farm that produces sheep’s cheese exclusively, delicious! In basque, «ardi gasna» from AOC Ossau Iraty . Tastings and sale of produce at the farm. Tel.: +33 5 59 37 40 64
Saint-Etienne de Baigorry
Cooperative cellar of Irouléguy. The first stop to make at the heart of Irouléguy country to fully take in the full measure of the appellation and appreciate its nuances, character and typicity. Under the direction of Xavier Pierre, the cellar is open every day of the week. In a space where conviviality reigns, the wines from selected estates are matched to products, cheeses and charcuterie. Almost every winegrower in the appellation brings their produce to the cellar where the vinification takes place. Tastings with lectures and tips by oenologists or winegrowers. Everything you need to make an educated choice. Tel.: +33 5 59 37 41 33 www.cave-irouleguy.com
In the XVIIth century farm, Jean-Louis Coster is the last keeper of vines. Jean-Louis has two loves in his life, ceps and sheep. Both complement each other so well and him too! The “Manex” breed of sheep gives the very best AOC Issou Iraty cheese. His Irouléguy wine is full of character and tenderness. He likes to say that “tannât grapes are like a Basque, rustic with a big heart”, the comparison rings very true. When you take a walk through his vineyard steeped on a hillside, don’t be surprised to find white sheep’s fleece grazing under the trees among the rows of vines. There are two hundred sheep in vineyard and their compost aerates the ground and feeds it. Everything is natural for a real, straight wine! Ten years of listening to his vines and vinifying, Jean-Louis has made the wine he had dreamt of. First class wines with blends in the three colours, a small production that connoisseurs fight over every year. Each vintage is practically a sell-out, the dry white especially. Visits, tastings by appointment. Tel.: +33 5 59 37 93 70
Arcé. The first sign went up for « Au Bon Vin du Pays », a refreshing and welcoming stop for the pilgrims on their way to Compostella. Followed the Inn-Hotel du Trinquet, the establishment was good and grew. The Trinquet ceded its place to the large dining room and the hotel-restaurant is now simply called Arcé, the family’s name. Surrounded by vineyards and fields where sheep graze, the Arcé family’s inn has become, with the fourth generation Pascal and Christine, an elegant and renowned Basque establishment. Pascal cooks. Christine, as the perfect hostess, is everywhere and looks after her clients with delight. The river still runs under the Roman bridge. The church tower rings every hour. It is a pleasure to dine under the chestnut trees, enjoying calf’s head, freshly caught trout, savoured with a fresh glass of white wine from Jean Louis Costera. To be at Arcé is like being in paradise; you’ll come again and again. Tel.: +33 5 59 37 40 14 www.hotel-arce.com