Introduction to Txakoli
As old as the hills and the history of Baskland, this smooth, young and fruity wine is produced in Bizkaia and other parts of the Basque Provinces through the wise combination of traditional and modern wine production methods.
Facing south and protected from the cold north-eastern winds by natural barriers, the vines are found on the hillsides next to the Cantabrian Sea. In this environment the grapes ripen suitably with the south wind which arrives at the beginning of autumn.
Centuries of history
Produced for centuries in farmhouses, using secrets which were passed down from father to son, Txakoli is a manifestation of popular Basque culture, further endowing it with its particular mythical tradition.
Deeply rooted in the collective memory of Bizkaia, the first written references date from the 13th and 14th centuries. It was formally presented in old texts such as the Ordinances of Lekeitio and Portugalete. These only allowed ships to unload wine in the port if they also unloaded an equal amount of Txakoli from Portugalete. The Ordinances of Lekeitio offered tax exemption for vine arbours.
Vineyards soon became popular and were appeared in countless places in Bizkaia. Indeed the word Txakoli came to refer not only to fresh young wine, but also to the cosy, familiar places where, gathered around a few bottles, Basques would talk, place bets, or simply enjoy a well earned rest after a hard day’s work.
After a serious crisis which almost led to the disappearance of both the vineyards and of Txakoli, it once again started to pick up and gain momentum around 1980. Txakoli thus came to be understood as a concept of wine. The production areas are also considered proper wine cellars, and the final product is unquestionably a very special wine which could be a serious contender in the competitive market of quality wines.
The home of Txakoli
Bizkaia is a small Basque Province in the North of the Iberian Peninsula. Its capital, Bilbao, has the character of large industrial cities, in sharp contrast to the green landscape which surrounds it. Land of sailors and explorers, the history of Bizkaia is marked by the sea. We should remember that the rough Bay of Biscay has never been seen as a frontier, but rather an extension of the natural territory.
Bizkaia is rich in traditions, and deeply rooted in popular culture, going from ancestral expressions of folklore to local sports. Basque handball, pilota, a modern-day version of Jeu de paume, in which the ball is hit against an opposing wall, is one of the most known and universal of Basque sport and traditions.
The symbol of Bizkaia is the Tree of Gernika, an old oak which stands proud in this municipality as an emblem of a past, the spirit of which is renewed day after day. This is Bizkaia, the home of Txakoli. Our land.
About the vine
The particularities of the geography of Bizkaia, the characteristics of the soil and the climate are determining factors in the production of Txakoli, since it is the soil which gives the grape its singularity.
The varieties of grape accepted by the Bizkaiko Txakolina Denomination of Origin Regulation Board are:
- Ondarrabi Zuri
- Ondarrabi Beltza
These local varieties are well adapted to the climate and to the mineral qualities of the soils of Bizkaia.
The grape harvest
Gently blown by the breeze of the Cantabrian Sea, storing each ray of sunlight in their seeds, the grapes ripen and sweeten their juices. The gentle Bizkaia summer sees how, day after day, the vines droop under the weight of the grapes. Under the watchful eye of the harvester, the seeds take on this translucent colour, showing that harvesting time has arrived.
In autumn, the grape pickers will select and collect the best bunches in small boxes, so that the grape arrives whole in the wine cellar.
The wine cellar
At the wine cellar the grape is pressed and converted to must. Several days of rest are sufficient for it to begin to ferment and convert, almost magically, into wine. The resulting liquid is put through different wine production practices controlled by the Regulation Board in order to stabilise its fundamental characteristics and keep all the properties of the Bizkaia Txakoli intact.
Over several months the Txakoli will remain in the wine cellar, resting until spring, awakening when it is ready for consumption. The Regulation Board will determine, using analytic and organoleptic tests, whether the wine is fit for denomination of origin. The effort and the waiting have been worthwhile. It is the moment to raise a toast for the new Txakoli.
The result is a fresh, smooth, fruity wine with a discreet sparkle. It can be white, red or rosé, or more popularly known as ojo de gallo, dark rosé. Although, the white wine is now the most popular, the production of red wine in small quantities, has been, and continues to be, a sign of identity of Bakio wine cellars.
Its pleasant acidity and range of aromas make for an extraordinary wine with great personality.
In 1801 William Humbolt compared it to the wines of the Rhine and the Moselle, and, even earlier than this, in 1782 the Irish naturalist William Bowles wrote that in Biscay there were wines as tasty as the French wines of Frontignan.
How to enjoy Txakoli: The ideal way to serve Txakoli
To adequately serve Txakoli, it is important in order to appreciate its quality in all its stages, namely in appearance, colour and brilliance in the glass, its aromas in the nose, and its range of flavours and sensations on the palate.
Foremost, Txakoli should always be served in a large wine glass, preferably narrow at the top to best appreciate its colour and brilliance. Care must be taken that serving temperature do not go below 7° C, as this will not allow us to appreciate the aromas, which are volatile substances, whilst temperatures of over 10° will enhance the sensation of alcohol.
Excluded from this rule are the red and dark rosé Txakolis, which are produced from red grapes. The red wines should be served at between 12º C and 14º C, and the rosés at a slightly lower temperature. This will allow us to appreciate the nuances of the skins which give the wine its body, whilst a low temperature would bring these tannins present in the red grape too much to the fore.
Bakio wine cellars and their Txakolis
In Bakio there are four wines cellars ascribed to Bizkaiko Txakolina Denomination of Origin:
Telephone: +34 94 619 43 45
White Txakoli: Pale golden yellow, bright, with an elegant must. No bubbles. Good intensity aromas, some of them fruity like apples, and other herbaceous aromas which remind one of fennel. Fresh and pleasant on the palate, with sharp acidity, moderate persistence and a dry finish where we once again find the good notes observed during smelling.
Red and rosé Txakolis
Telephone: +34 94 619 42 71
White Txakoli: Pale golden yellow with greenish tints, clean and bright. Glyceric and without bubbles, its clear and intense aroma, and a fruity citrus backdrop, is reminiscent lemon tree leaves, and some nuances of mint. It is fresh and pleasant on the palate, with slight acidity, and a finish with citric sensations predominating.
Doniene Gorrondona txakolina
Bentalde auzoa, 10
Tel.: +34 94 619 47 95
Fax: + 34 64 619 58 31
Wine cellar located in a typical Basque farmhouse of the area. Since 1996 four young people have innovated and developed a modern concept of Txakoli, based on local varieties, old vines, environmentally friendly harvesting and the use of new technologies. Since 2002 they have supplemented their range of Txakolis with the production of pommace spirits.
White txakoli. 100% Ondarrabi zuri. It is produced with selected harvested grapes. Flower must which ferments in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperature. Fermentation on its sediments in a tank. Cold stabilised.
White txakoli. 70% Ondarrabi zuri, 25% Munematsa and 5% Ondarrabi beltza. Fermented in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperature. Cold stabilised.
Doniene. Fermented in barrels
White Txakoli. 100% Ondarrabi zuri. Fermented in new barrels of French and Hungarian oak.
Red Txakoli. 100% Ondarrabi beltza. Selected harvest. Cryogenic maceration with dry ice. Alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation at the beginning of December. Cold stabilised.
Doniene. Pommace spirits
Pommace spirits Ondarrabi zuri and Ondarrabi beltza, distilled in the traditional method in copper stills.
Doniene. Herbal spirits
Pommace spirits Ondarrabi zuri and Ondarrabi beltza, distilled in the traditional way in copper stills. Macerated with ten aromatic herbs selected by the wine cellar.
BASARTE BASERRIA: Urkitzaurrealde, 4
605 026 115
Natural fermentation with grapes made by integrated production techniques, originating from Basarre in Bakion.
1st certification of Txakoli grapes. Highest quality maturation. Varietal: 100% Ondarrabi Zuri.
Note: Part of the information has been taken from the information brochure “The latest in Azkena”, edited by the Bizkaiko Txakolina Denomination of Origin Regulation Board