“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.” —Ernest Hemingway
When Txanton opened its doors to the public in 2015, it was conceived as a discreet haven where the appreciation for fine wine could be taken to even greater heights. Undoubtedly, the expertise of the team behind it ran deep, endowed with a common passion. “There was an ambition for learning more, going into every detail and of course, for sharing these discoveries with other equally passionate wine drinkers,” Txanton’s general manager Besay Gonzalez revealed.
It was a quiet morning when we had our talk. We were ensconced within the cool confines of La Gran Añada, where the team’s collection of vintage wines is the focal point. One’s gaze could not but be drawn to the enviable selection of rare and valuable wines carefully accumulated over the years.
While Besay candidly imparted that it was difficult to recall which wines were first added to the cellar, he vouched that majority would have come from the old world region. “It would have included bottles of Champagne Salon Brut Blanc de Blancs Le Mesnil,” the GM revealed. “Perhaps a couple of Bordeaux bottles from 1982, 1989 and 1990, white and red Burgundies when they were not as popular, Barbaresco from Gaja, some old Viña Tondonia and premium Napa Valley wines. Definitely, wines we knew would be age-worthy.”
Since starting, the Txanton team has amassed around 10,000 labels, which features Spanish, French, Italian and premium Napa Valley vintages, including bottles of Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone, Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello and Amarone.
“The oldest bottle we have is a Chateau d’ Yquem 1890 Premiere Cru Classe Superieur,” Besay disclosed. “It’s very important to know the source in order to be able to get wines like that. This wine came straight from the cellar. Well not just this bottle, but a full vertical collection from this vintage until 2016.”
It was a privilege being granted access to part of this valuable collection and listen to the stories that accompanied each bottle. He told us how Txanton started working with Viña Tondonia, a legendary winery located in Rioja, “This is a wine with ties to the Philippines, since it was one of the first Spanish wines imported into the country. Before, they were able to allocate us a few bottles of their Gran Reserva 1980 or 1981.” He emphasized how this winery placed importance on its natural environs and how that impacts the winemaking. Spiders, offered Besay, were allowed to roam freely around the wine caves—since the spiders eat the insects which get into the corks and compromise the preservation and evolution of the wine.
Part of Txanton’s collection housed in a humidity-controlled facility impresses with its remarkable array of special vintages from Bordeaux’s top estates and first growths from 1982, 1989 and 1990. This group includes legendary right bank bottles of Château Pétrus, Château Cheval Blanc and Château Le Pin. “We have a vertical from 1980 to 2002 and even a good selection of big formats. Collectors love big formats,” Besay added.
He paused to point out their 2005 bottles of Château Latour, Château Haut-Brion, Château Lafite Rothschild and Château Petrus. “This is one of the best vintages in the last 20 years in Bordeaux. From most of these wineries we carry some of their best and harder vintages to find like a Château Lafite Rothschild 1959 or a 1961 Château Latour and Châtau Haut-Brion.”
A walk around the cellar reveals hard-to-find verticals of Massetto from the 1990s, Brunello di Montalcino Soldera, and single bottles of Vega Sicilia from the 1980s, 1970s and even from further back to the 1960s.
Besay showcased the range of their Burgundy selections, including a Domaine Armand Rousseau Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru 2002, Domaine Meo-Camuzet Clos de Vougeot, some Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Domaine Prieure Roch Chambertin Clos de Beze Grand Cru, and a Grands Echézaux from Domaine Leroy.
Even the Champagnes are a sight to behold. “From the beloved Salon including its 1964 vintage or the James Bond edition for Bollinger, Bollinger R.D. since 1988, Champagne Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill and the Champagne Jacques Selosse Brut Rose, which are completely impossible to find.”
Besay recalled some of the special tastings they did in the past, one of which included a Domaine Armand Rousseau Gevrey Chambertin 2002, Domaine Romanée Conti Grands Echezeaux 2001, Domaine Leroy Vosne-Romanee 1988, Château La Mission Haut-Brion 1996, Château Lafite Rothschild 1989 and Château Latour 1982. “If you appreciate good things in life, you will retain that moment in your memory for the rest of your days.”
The passion for wine is something that binds the Txanton team and will guide the choice of bottles that will end up in their collection. “A family that spends a whole year dealing with the weather, working hard in the fields, analyzing every single detail and parameter that could affect the chain of production—there is so much work behind every bottle. It deserves the respect from everyone whether you like wine or not,” Besay mused.
“Wine is culture,” he ended. “You are drinking culture and history. A lot of anecdotes and experiences have gone through a bottle of wine preserved for decades.”
That is certainly something worth pondering in future wine choices to be made.
Photographs by Berwin Coroza