Basque Country (also known as El Pais Vasco) is a winemaking region of Spain located along the northern coast of the country near the famous cities of Bilbao and San Sebastian. This region is primarily known for its Txakoli wines, which are characterized as light, slightly fruity, and zesty white wines with high acidity and low alcohol content.
As with other regions of Spain, the winemaking traditions of Basque Country extend all the way back to the ancient Roman era. Over time, religious orders located within the region kept alive the tradition of winemaking until the modern era.
While Basque cuisine may be better known than the wines of the region, the light white wines pair nicely with seafood and fresh fish (both of which are central to Basque cuisine).
There are three distinct Txakoli denominaciones de origen (DOs) within Basque Country: Txakoli de Bizcaia, Txakoli de Getaria, and Txakoli de Alava. In addition, Basque Country is home to a sub-region of the famous Rioja region (La Rioja Alavesa), which lies south of Basque Country. The primary grape varietals of these Txakoli DOs include Ondarribi Zuri and Ondarribi Beltza. Wines made from Bordeleza Zuria and Izkiorota grapes are also found here. In addition, Txakoli de Bizcaia is known for producing red Txakoli wines with very slight pinkish overtones known locally as Ojo Gallo.
What is distinctive about the Txakoli wines is that they have a slight fizz to them. For that reason, they are often poured in such a way as to accentuate this fizzing action. Some wines are also produced using a special process called carbonic maceration, in which grapes are not de-stemmed or crushed before fermentation.
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