2019 Bodegas Itsamendi Txakoli de Bizkaia
Region: Txakolina Bizkaiko > Spain
Grapes: 85% Hondarrabi Zuri, 10% Riesling, 5% Folle Blanche
Vinification/ cellar stats: Organic, high-altitude vineyards in the middle of a UNESCO-protected bird sanctuary; bottled unfined/unfiltered with minimal So2; 12.5% ABV
In Basque Country region of Urdaibai, vineyards are planted in a natural enclave around the Gernika estuary which has been declared a Biosphere Reserve for native birds by UNESCO. Here Bodegas Itsasmendi (which means 'sea and mountains') was built by friends with a shared vision of producing authentic wines from their coastal terroir. Spread over 15 small, biodiverse sites, their vineyards represent the diverse climate and geological conditions that make interesting wine, and the constant winds blowing off the Atlantic help protect the grapes from the constant threat of rot.
If you are familiar with Txakoli, you probably know it as summer in bottle -- salty, with bracing acidity and a persistent spritz. But those fine bubbles don't occur naturally -- they're result of Co2 injection before bottling. In this pretty wine, all Co2 is natural (not injected), so it doesn't show the spritzy character of other Txakoli. In fact, it's a serious and quite complex wine, coming from vines planted on different soils and fermented separately, some on the lees, some without.
It's still fresh and salty, with citrusy and floral undertones and maybe a touch of fennel, that works as well for the beach as it does your summer alfresco dinner. But don't expect it to taste like any simple, spritzy Txakolina you’ve had before – this was how the original Txakoli wines tasted before commercial yeast, chemicals and heavy filtration took hold of the region.