Txakoli: pearl of the Basque Country
Txakoli is one of those Spanish wines that tend to stay under the radar almost completely. Outside the country, but even in Spain, this Basque wine is more or less unknown. A large consumption in Basque Country itself sure is one of the reasons.. after all, it is home to thousands of restaurants and pintxos bars. A short visit to San Sebastian, Bilbao or Vitoria-Gasteiz would be the proof of the pudding... In addition to that, quality often is not up to standard (a common problem in the big world of wine). But there sure are some bodegas that strive for top wines and succeed in that goal. Up to us (and you) to discover them!
What exactly is Txakoli?
Think of Txakoli as an amalgam of wines made from autochthonous Basque grapes. By far the largest part are white wines, although rosé and red wine do exist. The production is divided over three denominations. By definition, Txakoli is deeply rooted in the Basque Country: grapes are local, the climate is maritime-Atlantic 'par excellence'. The wines are marked by a pronounced acidity, low alcohol content, a remarkable saltiness, spicy character and a fresh fruitiness with a floral undertone. In the hands of a skilled winemaker: a different-than-other-but-undaunted-delicious wine!
Txakoli is made in three different production areas spread across the provinces of Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa and Araba. The oldest denomination is Getariako Txakolina, covering about 450 hectares of vineyard and 34 bodegas. The freshest Txakolis are made here. In 1994, D.O. Bizkaiko Txakolina was created, including 400 hectares and 38 bodegas. The best wines from this area are blessed with a remarkable complexity. The youngest D.O. is Arabako Txakolina, a smaller area with 100 hectares of vineyard and 7 wineries.
Terroir in the Basque Country
Looking at the Basque Country, we perceive an evergreen landscape. Just like in Galicia, the climate is quite different from the rest of Spain. In growing season, temperatures vary between 8°C and 22°C. Annual rainfall can reach up to 1600 millimeters... a lot! However, the 900 hectares of vineyards are located on a mountainous terrain -sometimes overviewing the Atlantic- where the slopes provide good drainage and allow the vines to be exposed to the sun for as much time as possible. Most vineyards are planted on sedimentary soils consisting of fossilized remains of coral and shellfish, mixed with limestone and clay.
Unique grape varieties
Many people look up a little suprised when noticing Basque grape varieties on their bottle of wine. Not a strange thing, since there is a good chance they never heard or read those names before. By far the most important grape is hondarrabi zuri: it has an excellent resistance to the humid environment. It contains a lot of acidity, which culminates to wines with a lot of freshness, intensity and a great aging capacity. Other varieties are hondarrabi beltza (for red wines), hondarrabi zuri zerratia, mune mahatsa,…
There is clearly a lot going on in this somewhat atypical Spanish wine region. Exciting wines are being made that stimulate your (proverbial) senses on a summer evening, during a pleasant aperitif, but just as well as a marvellous meal companion. In short: totally worth discovering!
At Xpertvinum: Doniene Gorrondona. Itziar, winemaker at Doniene Gorrondona is coming to our store in Brussels on Friday December 3, 2021 and to the Vinoteka in Leest on Saturday December 4. Everyone is welcome (without reservation) to come and taste the wines and talk to Itziar!