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A Geography Snafu + Poulet Basquaise with Domaine Illaria Irouleguy 2016 #Winophiles

Jeff of FoodWineClick! is hosting The French Winophiles this month as we explore the French Basque wine region. Here is his invitation.

A couple of years ago, Lynn of Savor the Harvest shared this post: Basque-ing in the Sud-Ouest: Wines of Irouléguy. And I probably should have revisted it before I went wine shopping because, I initially went to the wrong side of the Basque region. You can read about my little geography snafu when I made Spanish Basque Nibbles for a French Wine Group - Whoops! And I did it twice, making Paella with another wine from the wrong side of the Pyrenees.

Yikes. I know better. Really. I do. But I was just so excited about making Basque food and tasting Basque wine that I completely skipped over the part that I was on the wrong side of the border. So, my pairing of Papas Bravas, Ganba Brotxeta, and Piparras with Camino Roca Altxerri Txakoli 2017 was not going to work for the #Winophiles event. Oh, well... that just offered me more time for another wine pairing - this time, a French Basque wine with a French Basque dish.

Wine and Food of the Basque Region
There is only 1 AOC wine officially part of the Basque region, Irouleguy. Because Irouleguy can be difficult to locate in the US, we stretched the boundaries and included white wines from Jurancon in our post. Take a look below at all the great ideas you’ll see this weekend. While you’re at it, join our chat on Twitter on 17 August at 10am CDT. Just search for the hashtag: #Winophiles. But first, here's what the rest of the group shared...

In My Glass

This time around I uncorked a bottle of Domaine Illaria Irouleguy 2016. Notice... "Produit de France.' Phew.

One of the appellation’s long-standing producers is Peio Espil at Domaine Ilarria. In fact, until 1990, he was one of only two independent producers in the area. He was born and raised in the region and lives in the same house that has been in his family for many generations. After spending two years in Africa with the Peace Corp, Peio returned to France and studied winemaking at La Tour Blanche in Sauternes and, then, worked at Domaine Cauhapé in Jurançon. He returned to the family domaine in 1988 where he worked alongside his father.

Peio now farms just over 17 acres of vines on the steep hillsides a near his house. He is certified organic through Ecocert and is one of the few producers in the region that doesn't cut terraces into his hills. I have yet to dig up photos of that, but it sounds interesting.

The Domaine Illaria Irouleguy 2016 is a weighty blend of Tannat, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes - from vines planted in iron-rich soils. On the nose, I got dark notes of cherry and smoke. On the palate, the wine was brighter than it smelled. Bright berries and woody herbs. Structured tannins make this a great match with meat or aged cheeses.

On My Plate

When I was searching for a Basque-inspired dish to pair with my wine, I stumbled across several recipes for Poulet Basquaise, Basque-style chicken.

I loved the combination of chicken and chorizo. And I was only too happy to go on  a hunt for Piment d'Espelette - Espelette Pepper Powder! If you can't find any where you are, try online or substitute paprika. Of course I made some adaptations from what I was reading: chicken thighs for breasts, red wine for white.

But I think I stayed true to the spirit of the dish, especially with the Piment d'Espelette and grilled Piquillo peppers.

Ingredients serves 5

  • 3 T olive oil, divided
  • 5 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 1⁄2 C peeled, chopped chorizo (I used an aged Spanish chorizo)
  • 1⁄2 C sliced grilled Piquillo peppers
  • 1⁄2 C diced tomatoes
  • 1⁄4 C diced apple (I used a Granny Smith)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1⁄2 C chicken stock
  • 1⁄2 cups dry red wine
  • 2 t piment d'Espelette (ground Espelette pepper) or paprika
  • organic chopped parsley for garnish
  • roasted or boiled potatoes for serving


Pour 2 T olive oil in a large skillet - I used a braiser. Place chicken thighs skin side down and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add in remaining olive oil - to the rendered chicken fat and oil - and stir in the shallots, chorizo, sliced peppers, and diced tomatoes. Simmer until the shallots soften and turn translucent. Stir in the diced apple and nestle the herbs in the pan. Sprinkle in the piment d'Espelette. Pour in the stock and the wine.

Return the chicken thighs to the pan, this time skin side up. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for an additional 20 minutes.

To serve, move the chicken thighs to a serving platter. Spoon the sauce over the top. If it's too liquidy, turn the heat up and reduce the sauce to desired thickness.

Serve the Poulet Basquaise with potatoes and a green salad.

This dish was delightfully layered with smoky and salty notes. It paired well with the Domaine Illaria Irouleguy 2016.

The #Winophiles will be back in September with a focus on the wines of Corsica with Payal of Keep the Peas leading the discussion. Stay tuned...


  1. Great calls on the recipe adaptations! Making a note of these Piquillo peppers to sub for the local Basque sweet peppers. And first time we see a Piment d'Espelette label in English! Since we fly it back, we'd never looked here!

  2. The pairing sounds fab... esp with chicken thighs instead of breasts. Btw love your nail polish in that one pic of the pepper 😊

    1. I always use chicken thighs when I can because they are so much more moist. And thanks! Living with three males, I try to be as pink and glittery as I can. LOL.

  3. This sounds delicious! I'm with Payal...thighs instead of breasts and....I took was marveling at the nail polish! LOL!

    1. Thanks! LOL. I am a perpetual resident of Testosterone Land. So any time I can be pink and glittery, I do!

  4. The dish looks yummy and perfect for a weighty wine. I did not notice the nail polish, focused as I was on the pairing. LOL!

  5. OMG this dish sounds amazing! I'm going to have to make it Cam! I'm also going to have to check out your pairing for Spanish Txakoli - favorite wine of mine! Thanks for sharing!


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