Guide to Wine from Basque Country (Pais Vasco)
The Basques can boast that a significant amount of Spanish wine that goes out onto the open market with the Rioja label are produced within their Autonomous Community.
Pais Vasco is regarded as a European food sanctuary. There are few places where enthusiasm for the pleasures of the table (and good wine) is so deeply-rooted and few regional cuisines have so many admirers across Spain.
The Alavan Rioja (Alava is one of the three Basque provinces) is home to many of the wineries, Marques de Riscal, Contino, Remelluri, Faustino Martinez, Palacio, Campillo among others, which have cemented Rioja’s good name.
Apart from the great wine labels, the province of Alava produces the so-called harvester’s wines; young reds, full of fruity aromas, light and slightly pungent on the palate, very much in line with the “Beaujolais Nouveau” from the other side of the Pyrennees.
Some popular wines from the Basque Country (Pais Vasco)
Geteriako Txakolina (Chacoli de Guetaria) and Bizkaiako Txacolina (Chacoli de Voxcaya) are the designations for some light, generally white, wines with a subtle acidic touch and strong personality. Perfect for accompanying a mouth-watering dish of wonderful grilled fish and seafood, so popular along the Basque coast.
At the moment, the individual vineyard owner in the Alavan Rioja has on average only about eight hectares of land.
However, there are plenty of other large landowning wine producers, in fact, more than the rest of the Rioja D.O. About 50% of the small vineyard owners produce their own wine, leaving considerably fewer grapes available for the market than in other parts of Rioja.
One of the main attractions of the Alavan Rioja is the survival, in this Basque strip belonging to the Rioja Denominacion de Origen (designation of origin), of a very old and original style of wine known locally as ‘harvester’s red‘, which is produced via a winemaking method known as ‘carbonic maceration‘, fermented whole grapes without the pressing, and made exclusively to be drunk young.