Straw-lemon in color, Itsasmendi is a youthful, fruit-driven wine with notes of lemon drops, ripe grapefruit and more subtle floral notes. On the palate, it is crisp and expressive with a persistent and pleasantly bitter finish, typical of the grape variety.
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In Basque, ”itsas” means ”seaR21; and ”mendi” means ”mountain,” as a reference to the major features of this ancient winemaking landscape. This wine is produced from 60% Hondarrabi Zuri and 40% Hondarrabi Zuri Zerratie grapes, white varieties native to the Basque area. Unlike other wines from this DO which are bottled with a little CO2 ‘spritz”, this wine offers a sophisticated taste of this unique place.
60% Hondarrabi Zuri and 40% Hondarrabi Zuri Zerratie
Each parcel from the loam-and-clay vineyards are vinified separately in stainless steel tanks, and the best are then combined to create a crisp, citrus, unique white wine. One of Spain”s foremost oenologists, Ana Martin, is the winemaker, producing dynamic new expressions of this traditional Basque grape. Ana Martin was born in the Basque region of Spain and caught the wine bug during her chemistry studies at the University of Pais Vasco. She continued her studies of viticulture and enology at the University of Madrid. Much of Ana”s early work was in collaboration with Jose Hidalgo, another well-known and respected winemaker. Together they worked in a number of different DOs including Cigales, Ribera del Duero and La Mancha. Much of their work was concentrated in the white wine regions of Rias Baixas and Rueda. During the early 1990s, Ana supplemented her winemaking with teaching and tasting-committee work, enabling her to share her ideas and keep current on industry progress being made throughout Spain. She also performed marketing work for Terras Gaudas, a Rias Baixas winery, which gave her the opportunity to further learn about the public”s perception of wine. In 1995, Ana began working independently, starting at Grandes Bodegas in Ribera del Duero and Itsas Mendi in the Txakoli de Bizkaia DO (her Basque home province). In 2000, she also became the winemaker for Castillo de Cuzcurrita, in Rioja. The wine that brought Ana to the attention of Spain”s domestic wine world is Traslanzas. While interning at a local cooperative, Ana met Maria Pinacho, whose family owns the winery of the same name. Together, they recognized the value of the property”s 60-year-old vines and decided to form a partnership. In 1998, they released the first red wine to come from the Cigales DO. Prior to that the DO”s primary production was roses. Ana never consults with more than one winery in any specific region; she feels this helps expand her experience in the world of wine, and that working in this fashion is ”more honest.” It also enables her to avoid direct competition between her wines. In fact, the contrast between Ana”s various wines exemplifies her ability to understand what the grapes of a specific vineyard have to offer. After she has studied her raw materials, she applies judicious and gentle treatment to shepherd them into wines of great individual character and interest.
Bodegas Itsasmendi (Basque for ”Sea and Mountain”) comprises 67.5 acres of vineyard, planted in 1989. It is located in the Basque DO of Bizkaiko Txakolina overlooking the Bay of Biscay, not far from the city of Bilbao. Its unusual white wine is from the native variety Hondarrabi Zuri, farmed by a small group of partners who own the extraordinarily beautiful land.