Alfredo Egia: “What matters to me is that my wines make you feel good for you, that they are in key with your body.”

Alfredo Egia

We have recently talked about what Alfredo Egia does with txakoli in Bizkaia. Today we will talk to him to learn about his work.

Thank you very much, Alfredo, for collaborating with me. The first thing that caught my attention is that you work following the principles of biodynamics. In which ways does biodynamics influence your wines?

Biodynamics at no time I understand it as an end in itself. In my case, I use it more as a vehicle in my intricacy with the vineyard. I do not think that the mere application of biodynamic preparations or the absence of synthetic phytosanitary products will make a wine transcend. It is naturally necessary that all this is accompanied by an intention, will, sincere and coherent exercise of the winegrower in pursuit of a transformation that must take place, both in his vineyard and in himself. From there, the changes will be what they have to be, always consistent with the energy applied in the process, and very independent of the apparent economic result.

Isn’t it very difficult in the north to work in such an artisan way as you, following biodynamics and trying to make the wine as natural as possible?

It is true that we have a climate that does not accompany the low proliferation of mildew and botrytis, and that for the moment I understand very important a control in the vigor and productivity for an adequate response of the vineyard to the absence of systemic or penetrating phytosanitary products of synthesis. In any case, biodynamics or similar practices must be accompanied by an assumption of significant losses in production. We have been so educated towards a productivity agriculture that I have to admit that one never seems to be prepared to see mildew act every year.

What difficulties do you find for it?

Mainly the intensity of work. The grass grows continuously and must be mowed, almost every year you need to do treatments every 12-15 days against mildew, which even if they are very low doses require the same work as any other sulfated one. If you also add that the Hondarrabi Zerratia has an irregular sprouting that requires several passes to drive the vegetation, then you will not miss work.

What treatments do you usually do in the vineyard?

Only anti-mildew with copper in the form of hydroxide, sulfate, oxychloride and gluconate, sometimes supplemented with a little wettable sulfur in Petit Manseng. Hondarrabi Zerratia as a general rule I do not apply sulfur since oidium does not affect it much. The normal doses per year are 2-2.5 kg of copper metal per hectare. It involves giving in a constant way very low doses to guarantee its presence in the vineyard. I accompany them with dynamizations of horsetail tea and nettle, rice milk and lavender essential oil that you cannot see how it smells when you prepare the cistern.

You mostly work with Hondarrabi Zerratia and Petit Manseng. What do these grapes provide you?

They are incredible varieties that provide fresh vegetation characteristics, acidity, they have skeletons, some rusticity but are aromatically complete and show a vocation to be “tamed” in their preparation so that they show their most complete version and their storage capacity. Honestly, and although very interesting wines can also be made with other varieties, I don’t miss any more white varieties to show the potential of my terroir. I think that, just like on the other side of the Pyrenees (Baigorri, Bearn, Pacherenc du VicBilh) these two varieties complement each other. Hondarrabi Zerratia (Petit Courbu in French) brings roundness, sapidity and Petit Manseng (Izkiriota Txiki in Basque) fruit and floral aromas, apart from alcoholic strength and acidity.

Do you plan to work with Hondarrabi Beltza?

Not at this time, since it is not a red variety from the area where I work, the region of Las Encartaciones in Bizkaia. In this area, the Gascón and Seña varieties were more typical, unknown in the rest of the province where the Hondarrabi Beltza and similar varieties were more imposed. The inclusion of Cabernet Franc, a 50% genetic precursor of Hondarrabi Beltza, has recently been approved. I will possibly make a small high-density plantation next year of Cabernet Franc and more in the future, and once legal and bureaucratic aspects are solved, another one with Gascón and Seña.

You collaborate with Gile Iturri and Imanol Garay on the Bizkaibarne wines. What is the role of each of you?

The collaboration between all of us is based on a very common way of seeing where we want to go. Without a doubt, Imanol’s experience in minimal intervention wines has definitely guided us on this path. Let’s say that Imanol puts the “know-how”, Gile works as a winemaker and I as a viticulturist. But above all, the most exciting thing about all this is to see that three, instead of adding, multiply. We enrich each other with our energies, we share visions, emotionally we become accomplices and we feel that the wines accompany us on that path.

What are the characteristics of an Alfredo Egia wine?

Above all, what matters most to me is that it is a product that you feel is good for you, that is in tune with your body. Also, be a creator or contributor of good times. What I like the most to be told is that when they had my wine it was a great day. The aromatic aspects, body, acidity, etc. I leave them in the background, balance and the whole are more important. We are too inclined to dissect wines instead of drinking and feeling them.

You work with white grapes in the north. When will we see a white wine from Alfredo Egia macerated with the skins?

We have already done something… but to be part of the final blend. To do 100% skin contact I have to increase production somewhat. For this, the idea is to transform the rest of the vineyards that I have into biodynamics. And it is something that at a given moment I have to feel with a beautiful emotion, not only because these wines may be more or less fashionable. I am sure that when I taste more orange wines that make me feel something special, I consider it more seriously, something that can happen when one least expects it!

Thank you very much for your kindness, Alfredo!