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2022 Balea Blanco Txakoli

Getaria, Spain
95% Hondarrabi Zuri + 5% Hondarrabi Beltza

Hondarrabi Zuri and its red skinned cousin Hondarrabi Beltza are the indigenous grape varietals of the Spanish Basque coast. Since at least the 1400s, these grapes have been made into a spritzy, high-acid white wine called txakolina. Much like cider in the inland, it was the every-day drink of the coastal Basques and especially popular among fishermen who traded parts of their catch for whole foeders to take out to sea. Whalers, whose voyages tended to be the longest, naturally bought and consumed the most. Thus, whaling and txakoli production became linked over the centuries; vines dotting the green cliffs were often trestled with whale bones, while barrels of wine being hoisted onto ships could be seen in the ports below. Today, the whalers are long gone, but they are commemorated in the logo of the most prominent txakoli appellation, D.O. Getaria and in the name of this wine, BALEA, which is the Basque word for whale.

The Producer

Many Basques can trace their ancestry to rural farmhouses or “baserris”. These small estates generally made a living by raising cattle for sale and subsisting off whatever else they could produce. To drink, this almost always meant cider for the inland baserris and txakoli on the coast. As the economy changed in the mid-1900s, many baserris traded in their cattle pastures for expanding their orchards and vineyards. This was the case for the neighboring Akarregi Txiki and Lasalde farms which, after generations of collaboration, formally joined houses to form Lasalde Elkartea. The txakoli they produce today bares the Akarregi Txiki name and was one of the 10 original wines to be admitted into the appellation of origin, Getariako Txakolina, of which there are now 33 member producers.

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