Marco and I were invited out by our good friends Marti, and Kevin to visit a txakoli bodega near Getaria. I’ve been making a pretty good run around wineries since I’ve been here, so I didn’t mind visiting a 5th. Plus I hadn’t been to a txakoli bodega before.
First a quick description of what txakoli is. It’s a basque white wine that is D.O. and only grown in a certain area with a guideline in methods, and with the Hondarribi Zuri grape variety. Hondarribi Zuri grapes are indigenous to basque country and are the only grapes used to make txakoli. Txakoli is a white wine, but it’s quite different than your average white. Typically the wine doesn’t have a a lot of depth, and is slightly effervescent. In the past it was a very poor quality wine, but with more modern equipment and better practices txakoli has come up in quality quite a bit recently, but is still considered cheap.
Modern bottling equipment, pretty uncommon for a txakoli bodega.
Now on to the bodega, K5 Argiñano- owned by Karlos Arguiñano- is a rather new bodega with vines planted just 5 years ago, and the first vintage out in 2010. The key difference is that this winery is trying to do something new with txakoli,- artisan txakoli. They have enough money for a well designed bodega and excellent equipment, and are putting in better practices than what is used in most txakoli vineyards. Typically Txakoli isn’t aged, and is consumed within 1 year of bottling because it won’t last any longer. But at K5 they believe their wine will still be good 3-4 years later and possibly have improved in quality. In fact when they ship their wine they recommend it shouldn’t be sold or used for at least one month because the wine will be “fatigued”
The vat on the left is where they let slightly macerated grapes sit for 6 hours to get their free run juice. then press whats left over on the right.
Their wine making practices are of considerably high quality from what I’ve seen around this area. They go through the extra step of de-stemming their grapes which most txakoli vineyards don’t do. They use gravity when possibly to move the wine around. They first break the skin of the grapes then put them into a large container where the weight of the grapes squeezes out their highest quality juice, called free-run liquid. The rest is then pressed, but they are fermented and aged separately and only added together depending on the quality of the pressed liquid. Currently they aren’t using the pressed grape liquid for the wine because their wine maker decided it wasn’t of good enough quality, so instead they plan on making txakoli vinegar with it.
The bodega is located 300 meters above sea level on a hill facing towards the Cantabrian sea.
They also keep each day of the harvest in a separate container because each come from a different parcel of land that has different sun, wind, and soil conditions. when bottling the wine maker will decide how to mix the wine together for the best possible blend. Their soil is made up of mostly lime and chalk thus has high mineral qualities which comes through in the quality of the grapes.
Tasting wine that is done fermenting, but is still sitting on its lees to develop for about 6 months before bottling. This is from 2011's harvest
This is the wine we tasted from sitting on the lees. foamy because it came spraying out of the little tasting valve, and cloudy because it hasn't been filtered yet. It actually wasn't too bad. The taste/smell was more single noted than a bottled and ready wine- very floral and fruity. We tasted from the different harvest days and each one tasted different, and the wine from the press was plainly inferior in quality.
There are some undesirable practices that other txakoli bodegas make. If they have a bad year, they may buy grapes from someone else to make txakoli, which is illegal under the D.O. Also many harvest a full month earlier than K5. Which probably means they’ll be adding sugar in order to get the right alcoholic content and fermentation. Probably one of the biggest reasons that they take these shortcuts is that the txakoli is their main source of income, and they cannot afford a bad year, and try to be cheap as possible in production. the D.O. seems to be easily cheated.
K5′s txakoli is definitely different from a lot of the other txakolis I’ve tasted. It’s more amber in color, more rounded and depth in flavor and aroma. Unlike other txakolis is poured close to the glass and has no effervescence. Normally txakoli is poured from very high because it aerates the wine making poor wine taste better, also it looks damn cool. They are currently working on selling to the U.S. and over Europe despite they currently produce much less txakoli than other vineyards. Though they do plan on being able to produce much more in the coming years.