Domaine Brana - Ohitza - "Souvenir" 2017
Domaine Brana is located in the tiny appellation of Irouléguy, in the extreme southwest of France in the Pyreness within the French Basque country. In 1984, Étienne Brana was one of the first to plant vines on a meaningful scale in over a century in this area. The vines are planted along very narrow terraces cut out of the steep hillsides. Today the estate is run by Étienne's children, Jean and Martine, who often work with Jean-Claude Berrouet, the former winemaker at Château Pétrus. Jean Brana’s farming philosophy could be called bio-diverse: encouraging the natural flora and fauna to co-exist with the vines. The result has been the return of insects and birds that haven’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.
The estate is HVE (Haut Valeur Environnementale) certified: a French three-tiered system that focuses on increasing biodiversity, decreasing use and impact of pesticides and fungicides, managing fertilizer use and improving water management.
The Irouleguy Rouge Ohitza cuvée is typically made from 50% Tannat and 50% Cabernet Franc. from parcels at mid-elevation on sandstone soils. 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.