Monday, September 3, 2012

Txakoli, the Basque Wine

4 weeks in the Basque Country

Txakoli, the Basque Wine
Way to do it!

Aitako Txakolina 2010, Getariako (Spain), 11.5%

Txakoli (or ChacolĂ­ in Spanish) is a slightly sparkling, very dry white wine with high acidity and low alcohol. It is the wine of the Basque Country (Euskadi) which has provinces on each side of the French-Spanish border on the Atlantic coast.

Getariko (Getaria) is a lovely coastal town between San Sebastian and Bilbao and centre of one of the major producing areas. The major grape used in this bottle is Hondarribi Zuri.

The wine, as far as I know, is not exported to Ireland but apparently has strong sales in the USA where Basque cuisine is highly regarded and where the lower alcohol levels are attractive.

This one is somewhat more advanced, more complex, than your ordinary Txakoli (meant to be poured and drunk quickly). The bubbles and acidity are there but the flavours don’t vanish after the initial pouring, though the “head” does.

Properly poured!
The Aitako vineyard say they have made a careful selection, have harvested at the optimum time and have fermented at low temperatures for a more intense aroma. The wine has also benefited from being raised on its own lees as this “gives volume, smoothness and balance in the mouth.”

While this bottle, bought in a wine shop in the main street in Getaria, a town I visited three times during a recent holiday, is undoubtedly the best I’ve tasted, I will happily say that I also enjoyed more modest efforts.

As a visitor, I was delighted to be able to try out this unfamiliar wine in the local restaurants – while it is produced in Spain, it is drunk on both sides of the border.

One of the unusual elements is that it is poured from a height, from about two feet above the glass, usually a sturdy tumbler, the intent being to increase the bubbles and release the flavours. It sure added to the novelty and the fun. Still does, especially if you try it yourself!

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