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2022 Balea Unfiltered Txakoli

Biscay, Spain
Hand-harvested. Native yeast fermentation in stainless steel. Fermentation is allowed to build pressure leaving a natural spritz. Aged 6 months on the lees, bottled unfiltered.

Just an hour and a half west of DO Getaria near the Basque capital of Bilbao, is the lesser-known DO Bizkaiko Txakolina. Like its neighbor, Bizkaya has a txakoli tradition that goes back to the 1400s, but with some important differences both in terroir and style. It is a more mountainous province and vines, on average, sit at higher elevation. Most estates are also planted 10-20 miles inland whereas they are literally seaside in Getaria. The result is more sun exposure and ultimately riper fruit which is evident in the golden hue, higher alcohol content, and fuller body that Bizkayan txakolis showcase. In general, yield is much less of a priority than it is for the more-discovered and in-demand Getarian txakolis. Rather than being trained up high in a canopy, the vines are closer to the ground, producing about half per hectare as they would otherwise, but maximizing the quality of fruit. Though at least 80% hondarrib zuri is required by DO Bizkaiko, there is also a tradition of incorporating more aromatic varietals such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and, in the case of Ugabe, Petit Corobou which is known as Hondarrabi Zuri Zerratie in Basque.

80% Hondarrabi Zuri, 20% Petit Courbu (aka Hondarrabi Zuri Zerratie) - 100% estate-grown.

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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