A Visit to an Orchard…To Become A Vineyard.

We got a jingle from our good mate Iñaki (a wine & cider maker) who invited us to take a wee trip with him to Azpeitia where he had been asked for his vino advice. His mate Eddy had recently purchased a sizeable apple orchard with the idea of turning it into a vineyard. Eddy is what you might call a ‘vino loco’ – to say he is passionate about wine would be a vast understatement. Iñaki forewarned us that much of the orchard-to-vineyard conversations would be in Basque and he thought it would take not much more than a couple of hours – no pasa nada…

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Old & Retired Apple Press, Views from a Vineyard….and one confused rose…

It was once again a stunning day in the Basque Country with sweet blue skies, sun shinning down & mucho mild temperatures. We checked out the old cider press, walked the orchard while the discussions in Basque took place…and about the time it looked like it was a wrap, we were invited to Eddy’s house. Wow! It is always a pleasant surprise when the unexpected turns into a phenomenal time.

We retreated to a family room under Eddy’s house kitted out with a kitchen, bar, a set of long tables with chairs and, of course, Eddy’s wonderful wine cellar. Promptly laid out on the table were several plates of sliced homemade chorizo that uncle-in-law Arume retrieved from the family’s stash, fresh crispy bread and ventresca de atún (tuna belly) floating in savoury olive oil…and of course, some wines from Eddy’s cellar. Oh Boy.

Our snack & wines were accompanied by lively conversations in Spanish, where we were priviledged to hear Imanol Lazkano (sorry but the link’s in Basque), Eddy’s father-in-law, recount his fascinating early days as a improvisational singer (cantante improvisador) in a competitive style called Bertsolari. In bertsolari, a theme or topic is picked and the singer or singers (often found in pairs) improvise verses and melodies. Imanol told us he had travelled the world doing this – all over Spain of course but also to Cuba, South America and even the United States. Our mate Iñaki was a wee bit stunned to find out he was standing next to such a famous person – like me finding out I was standing next to Frank Sinatra and not knowing it!

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THE Wine Cellar Group Shot – Bottom Pic L to R: Iñaki, Imanol Lazkano, Me & Eddy

And oh the wines…Eddy, like many wine aficionados, love to share their bounty. His cellar was quite extensive in its vino coverage but he leans a tad toward the French drops. An so it was that our first bottle, generously poured, was an Arbois Pupillin from Maison Pierre Overnoy. My experience with Jura region wines is limited but this was a stunner…a mutual wine mate of mine & Iñaki’s Dave Brookes does a much better job of putting flesh to the details of this type of wine and its producer.

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The Wines – Super Yum!

Next up in the glass was a grape I’d never heard of – Xarel Lo…made by a producer I’d never heard of – Terroir Al Límit. It’s one of the primary grapes (the other two being Macabeu – nice drop on its own too – and Parellada) that go in to making cava and these guys are apparently part of the ‘new outsiders of Spain’ movement breathing new life into old vineyards & grapes. Apparently rare as hen’s teeth – muchas gracias Eddy.

And to top off our vino experience we sampled another outta here bottle, the 2011 Fontanasanta Nosiola by Foradori. A wine from the Dolomite Mountain region of Italy & a superb first try of the native grape Nosiola para mi. Rich & unctuous on the palate but still crisp & clean & very fresh.

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Chorizo, Chorizo, Chorizo by Arume & Familia

After our vino & chorizo & atún repast, Amure offered to show us his chorizo curing room where they had just hung the years makings to dry. Up to the attic we climbed to find a vast room filled to the rafters, literally, with rack after rack of various types of chorizo, colour coded for flavour and family member ownership.

And piling pleasure upon pleasure, we were generously gifted a bottle of wine from Eddy’s cellar, a FULL bag of freshly harvested walnuts, some of Arume & familia’s chorizo and a vessel of homemade quince paste!

A day to remember…for 2016 Iñaki, more of these mate!

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