By Valentina Phillips
The name Txakoli (or chacolí) comes from the expression “etxeko ain“, meaning “just for home”. And for a long time, Txakoli wines were considered just that – home-made, young, inexpensive wines with high acidity. In recent years, however, these white Basque wines have been experiencing a true revival, establishing themselves as good quality, modern wines with a unique character inspired by the Atlantic climate and terroir.
The perfect example of this image change is Gorka Izagirre’s 42 by Eneko Atxa, which garnered the 2019 International White Wine Revelation award from Concours Mondial de Bruxelles.
“This award strengthens our basic premise – that in addition to traditional young offerings, great wines with good aging capacity can also be produced in Biscay,” says wine maker Joserra Calvo .
42 by Eneko Atxa is an exclusive wine – just 7,000 bottles are made every year, and it is currently completely sold out. Calvo expounds further: “Interest prompted by the Revelation award has been impressive. The 1,500 bottles left in the winery were snapped up within 3 days.”
“Interest prompted by the Revelation award has been impressive. The 1,500 bottles left in the winery were snapped up within 3 days.”
Gorka Izagirre is part of ARAEX Grands (Spanish Fine Wines), an independent association that brings together dynamic and innovative wineries throughout Spain, especially in Rioja Alavesa and the Basque Country, who have spearheaded the emergence of new types of wine, whilst preserving the authenticity of Txakoli in an increasingly globalized world.
A Designation of Origin, Bizkaiko Txakolina, created 25 years ago, guarantees that the wine meets strict quality standards throughout the production process, from the vineyard to the bottle. Requirements include the location of the vineyards, which can’t be higher than 400 meters above sea level, therefore imparting the site’s distinctive agro-climatic conditions to the wine.
“Our intention is for our wines to always reflect our land: the climate, the terroir, the rainfall, the winds and especially the identity of our unique grapes – Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarrabi Zuri Zerratia.”
Joserra Calvo, wine maker at Gorka Izzagire
A limited number of wines are produced by Gorka Izagirre, all of them from the indigenous white grapes of the Basque Country.
“Our idea from the beginning was to focus on our local varieties, which are unique and largely unknown. These varieties give our wines an identity, differentiate them from others and appeal to our customers’ inquisitive nature. Wines from Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarrabi Zuri Zerratia are not lush on the nose, but stand out for their balance, freshness and elegance.”
“The Revelation award for our 42 by Eneko Atxa demonstrates that a Txakoli made in 2015 can be excellent and can compete against any white wine in the world while keeping its identity intact.”
The traditional white Txakoli has evolved not only in terms of quality but also for its variety: the new-generation Txakolis can be young and fruity, macerated on the lees, aged in barrels, sparkling and also rosé and red.
“Although there is a growing interest in Basque wines made from native grapes, there is still a lot of work to be done,” explains Joserra Calvo. “Producers should make an effort to promote the different types of Txakolis and make it clear to customers that, in addition to the young dry wines, there are more complex examples, aged on the lees or fermented in barrels. The Revelation award for our 42 by Eneko Atxa demonstrates that a Txakoli made in 2015 can be excellent and can compete against any white wine in the world while keeping its identity intact.”
In the future, the winemakers of Gorka Izagirre want to surprise their customers by adding a red wine to their product range and, true to the winery’s philosophy, it will be from the native variety Hondarrabi Belitza.
42 by Eneko Atxa
Varieties: 100% Hondarrabi Zerratia
DO: Bizkaia Txakoli
Aged on the lees for 10 months, the lees are then stirred daily until they reach the perfect combination of fruit, wood and lees.
Tasting Notes: Golden yellow hue with greenish reflections, the nose evokes the clean and intense aromas of ripe white peach and citrus fruits like pink grapefruit, though toast, pastry and oak can also be enjoyed. The body is powerful and glycerin-filled with a ripe apple base, citrus and tropical fruit, accompanied by a subtle smoky aroma of toasted butter and delicate acidity. A characteristic, long-lived wine with fantastic aging potential.
About the winery:
The Gorka Izagirre winery has forty hectares of vineyards divided into small plots integrated into the landscape of Biscay. The coastal air, steep hilly slopes, southeast morning sun, well-aerated plots green lush hillsides impart a unique freshness and character to the wines.
The complex geography of the lands requires delicate manual harvest in the month of October. Small tight bunches deliver a concentrated low yield per hectare allowing for optimum maturation creating structured wines of the highest quality.