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What our expert thought of Hiruzta, Txakolin ‘Berezia’




the tasting

The Tasting


In the glass this is a medium-plus greeny-gold.  It’s really quite a deep colour, especially for txakoli which is normally very pale.  Swirling reveals strong, slow-moving ’legs’ on the sides of the glass.  This looks almost like a sweet wine.
 
It smells like it might be sweet, too, with a pungent, petrolly nose backed by wild flowers, like an aged Riesling or a Jurançon from nearby south-west France.  Along with the floral and kerosene scents come some unusual vegetal aromas: celery and even a touch of asparagus.  Clearly this has seen some bottle-age.  There are stony and yeasty aromas too, typical of lees-aging, along with an intriguing seawater brininess.
 
The overall effect is initially quite strange but grows on you.  With air and warmth some more conventional grapefruit zest citrus comes to the fore, balancing the unusual mineral and vegetal scents.  This is a brilliant nose.
 
In the mouth it is fully dry, with fresh, just-more-than-medium acidity that’s actually quite low for txakoli.  By contrast, the fullish body is positively huge by txakoli standards, though about what you’d expect for 13.5%.
 
There’s lots of extract here, with a mouthcoating intensity that’s quite difficult to describe because the flavours are not about fruit.  Instead it’s all minerals: wet stones on a beach, even damp plaster.  There’s spicy citrus, but very spicy and not very fruity; I’m strongly reminded of tequila.
 
That white pepper spiciness is particularly apparent on the long, textured and stony finish.  So is the mouthwatering acidity, which was concealed by the weight of the palate.  A suggestion of celery salt echoes the nose, and there’s some appealing almond nuttiness too.  Eventually the flavours fade out into a salinity that has me licking my lips expecting to taste salt on them.


Assessment


This isn’t very typical of txakoli, which is usually much lighter, sharper, paler and, of course, frothy.  But the briny minerality of txakoli is present in spades.  This Berezia actually has a lot in common with our previous Basque white, Bengoetxe, which we featured in September 2016.  That too was a lees-aged, late-picked example that didn’t have bubbles.  This wine is bigger still, with unprecedented weight and power for this appellation, augmented by two years more bottle age (Bengoetxe was also a 2014).
 
The wildflower spiciness of the nose reminds me of a dry (or even not-so-dry) Jurançon from just across the border into France.  The blend for this wine includes 15% Gros Manseng, the main grape of Jurançon, so perhaps that’s not surprising.  But that petrolly pungency reminds me of another wine altogether, and one from much further away.  In the tasting notes I likened it to Riesling, which also goes petrolly with age, but it’s rather closer to old, unoaked Semillon from Australia, which is one of my favourite wine styles though not one many people will be familiar with.
 
With their briny, unfruity stoniness and hints of tequila, the palate and finish are more reminiscent of another seaside white from the Atlantic coast – Muscadet.  But no Muscadet has this much power, or so much scent.  For me, this extraordinary wine comes over like a cross between Peter Lehmann ‘Margaret’ Semillon and a turbocharged Muscadet.  It’s so distinctive that it won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I think it’s brilliant.



Tasting notes

Appearance
medium+ greeny-gold, v. deep for txakoli, strong slow legs. Looks almost sweet.
Nose

Intensity pronounced, pungent, sinus-clearing

Aromas mineral (petrol, seawater), floral (wild flowers), vegetal (celery, asparagus), lees (stones, yeast), citrus (grapefruit zest). Smells like a sweet wine.

Development fully developed
Palate

Sweetness dry

Acidity medium(+, just), low for txakoli

Body medium++, huge for txakoli

Intensity medium++, mouth-coating

Flavours mineral (briny stones, damp plaster), spice (white pepper), faint pithy citrus (lemon, grapefruit), tequila!
Finish

Length long

Flavours as palate, textured, mouthwatering, spices (white pepper, celery salt), nuts (almonds), ends v. saline
Other notes
Unoaked. No reduction. Nose like well-aged Sem. or Sem/Sauv crossed with Jurançon - strange but grows on you. Tequila on palate & finish. Mineral/spicy, not fruity. Turbocharged Muscadet crossed with Lehmann Margaret Semillon. A marmite wine, but I love it.


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