Join the movement, try Basque favorite Txakolina 

click to enlarge Ameztoi Txakolina
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.f. Examiner
  • Ameztoi Txakolina, with prominent acidity and fruity notes, is a good starter Txakolina.
How far we have come. Twenty years ago, very few outside of Spain’s Basque region in the country’s northwest knew about Txakolina, which is pronounced chock-oh-lee-na. Today, I have friends who can barely say merlot properly, but who are asking me what I think of these wines. More than the advent of Twitter, this is a sign of social progress.

There are red, rosé and white versions of Txakolina, but it really is the latter that has garnered so much attention. With the mainstay grape hondarribi zuri, a fairly neutral grape variety that can handle humidity, the wines absorb much of their character from the oceanic terroir, and as such, you will often notice a saline-like minerality.

There are several subzones, Getaria being the most famous and the first to be anointed with a DO (denominación de origen) designation in 1989. Bizkaiko Txakolina followed in 1994, and Arabako Txakolina was recognized in 2001.

While there are subtle differences, the wines in general are light and zesty, with a little bit of spritz resulting from refermentation in the bottle. Usually under 12 percent alcohol, they make superb summer sippers and are especially good with raw seafood.

Here are a few to stock up on over the next few months.

Ameztoi Txakolina, 2013 (Getaria, Spain): A seventh-generation producer, Ameztoi is one of the best-known producers in the region, and for good reason. The wines are consistently good and never veer away from what people have come to expect from Txakolina. With bracing acidity, lemon-lime and a green apple tartness, this is the wine to track down if you have never tried Txakolina before. Suggested retail: $19

Talai Berri Txakolina, 2012 (Getaria): Bixente Eizaguirre, whose family has been making wine for five generations, founded Talai Berri in 1992. The production has increased over the years, but the quality of the wines has held steady. Fresh with citrus, a hint of nectarine and an underlying salty minerality, this is an unassuming wine that hits all the right notes. Suggested retail: $20

Bengoetxe Txakolina, 2011 (Getaria): Meaning “come home” in Basque, Bengoetxe was established in 2001 and has been organic from the start. Further from the coast than other vineyards, its warmer microclimate and clay soil promote body, yet there is enough sizzling acidity for it to retain a characteristic vibrancy. Most Txakolina is best when it is no more than a couple of years old, but this 3-year-old bottling is still going strong with briny oyster shell and chamomile tea aromas, subtle Meyer lemon on the palate and a long, focused finish. Suggested retail: $21

Some of these wines can be found at Arlequin Wine Merchant, Bi-Rite Market, K&L Wine Merchants, Paul Marcus Wines, Plumpjack Noe Valley, Ruby Wine, San Francisco Wine Trading Co., The Spanish Table Mill Valley and William Cross Wine Merchant.

Pamela S. Busch has been working in the wine industry since 1990 as a writer, educator and consultant and co-founded Hayes & Vine Wine Bar and Cav Wine Bar & Kitchen. In 2013, she launched TheVinguard.com, a blog covering a variety of wine-related topics.

About The Author

Pamela S. Busch

Bio:
Pamela Busch has been working in the wine industry since 1990 as a writer, educator and consultant and co-founded Hayes & Vine Wine Bar and Cav Wine Bar & Kitchen. In 2013, she launched TheVinguard.com.
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