Doniene Gorrondona “Beltza” Txakolina

A naturally fermented red made by the producer that made Hondarrabi Beltza famous. Fresh and peppery.

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Doniene Gorrondona is famous for never giving up on the native hondarrabi beltza grape and red txakolina, as the history of the region once included more red wines than white prior to phylloxera due to the proximity of the lucrative Bordeaux market across the bay. In fact, they built their entire project in 1994 around the centenary vines in the oldest vineyards at Gorrondona, acting as inspiration for reviving the lost traditions of txakolina production in the Bizkaiko area.

Beltza is easily one of the coolest and most unique red wines produced in the Basque Country, or Spain, for that matter. Beltza is a pioneering red txakoli that both Doniene Gorrondona and De Maison Selections have fought for more than two decades to save hondarrabi beltza from extinction. These days it is easy to forget that before producers like Gorrondona saved hondarrabi beltza, only a few hectares of the grape existed in very small pockets in Basque Country, and most everyone except two of our producers had given up on it entirely. This was before the rosé explosion convinced other local producers that the grape was worthwhile.

Beltza has become a cult classic among those in the know and is widely regarded as the premier red txakolina of Basque Country. With a wild, rustic red fruit character and not a trace of astringency, Beltza is fruit-driven and peppery; it is reminiscent of cabernet franc, to which it has recently been identified to be one of the parents. Fans of Loire Valley Chinon and Saumur Rouge will instantly understand this charming, wild, fresh red wine. Beltza repays time spent aging in bottle, patience rewarded with added complexity in just three to eight years of cellar time.

Vintage Notes – 2018 was a very rainy, Atlantic vintage, which produced lighter framed wines with nuanced aromatics. Yields were down, but quality was good at Gorrondona due to the team’s experience working in difficult vintages. Rain beginning in the spring of 2018 was prolonged until early summer, affecting flowering, resulting in smaller grape clusters. Summer was clear, mild and grapes ripened under optimal conditions, with a healthy harvest on October 10.

Vinification – After a manual harvest on October 10th using small boxes, the grapes are rushed back to the winery no more than three hours after being cut. There they are destemmed and go through a brief pre-fermentation cold maceration. Fermentation with native yeasts occurs in stainless steel tanks, and malolactic fermentation occurs spontaneously. The wine rests in stainless steel on its fine lees until late January, when it is racked and bottled. Only very minimal use of sulfur is employed during the process.

  • Bizkaiko Txakolina
  • Site: Aldape, Balanda, and Torrezar
  • Grapes: Hondarrabi Beltza
  • Vine Age: Vines planted from 1917 to 2012
  • Soil: Clay
  • Farming: Practicing Organic
  • Vinification: Temperature controlled fermentation with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks.

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