Ode to Txakoli

I have surely picked your brain with “perfect summer drinks” before. There was last year’s Cvicek , and I stand behind that—get that Slovenian juice in your sunscreen-protected veins. But I have a new addition to suggested summer libations: Txakolina. Pronunciation: Chock-Oh-LEE-Nah. The Txakolina winemaking region lies in northern Spain, in the Basque, where the grapes benefit from the Bay of Biscay’s sea breeze. They taste like beach wines—lighter-bodied and often carrying a slight spritz to them. Cooler though the region may be, they are killer in the heat. Come to think of it, cool-region wines are craveable in the heat, whereas wines fashioned from hot-climate grapes tend to create the big, full-bodied wines you want in the cold. It's funny how that works. I digress. Goodness, I love this ever-so-slightly effervescent, lower-in-alcohol, spritely and spirited wine made with grapes I’ve literally seen nowhere else. The red variety in question is Hondarrabi Beltza . Beltza means black in Basque—easy! I know, in the US, we call them red wine grapes, but in other areas of the world, they are called black—much like the grapes may be green, but we call it white wine. Ugh, language. Hondarrabi Beltza has a parent-offspring relationship with our old friend Cabernet Franc. And it makes up only 2% of the region’s wines, according to the latest edition of the Oxford Companion to Wine. Hondarrabi Zuri is the white variety, though my research uncovered that it seems actually to be different grapes: courbu blanc (oft found in southwest France amidst the manseng grapes, moderate in alcohol and acidity), [crouchen](https://delectable.com/search/crouchen), or noah—the last a hybrid of vitis riparia and vitis labrusca, whoaaa. But the latter was only associated with some cuttings DNA tested. Also authorized are Hondarrabi Zuri Zerratia (Petit Courbu), Izkiriota (Gros Manseng), Riesling , and Chardonnay , but these secondary grapes cannot make up more than 20% of a producer’s total vineyard acreage. There are three main sub-appellations, although if I’m being honest, I’ve mainly only seen Getariako Txakolina, the big name in Txakolina subregions. There is also Bizkaiko Txakolina and Arabako Txakolina—both known for fuller styles imparted by lees stirring. Minimum alcohol levels for all three tend to be low, around 10%. Okay, that’s enough school. It's time for the wines! THE WHITES 2022 Baskoli Txakoli Bianco It’s light on its toes but packs more depth and ripeness of flavor the more you sit with it. Do you have to let it linger? Yes, even if none of the notes are Cranberries. It has a very light sparkle that fades quickly, but that is okay—you get a depth of ripe melon and a bit of potting soil on the nose. More of the melon on the palate and ripe! But with a bit of lemon and lime zests and peak acidity, making it exciting. Drink it up, drink it down. 2021 Ameztoi Primus Circumdedisti Me Getariako Txakolina It’s so poised, with lemon and brine aromas perched on seashore air. The palate is (per the usual for a good Txakolina) spritely, balancing ripe lemons and white peach with steely minerality, ending herbal and peppery. It's so swillable but deserves some thought to boot. THE PINKS 2022 Camino Roca Altxerri Txakoli Rosé Subtle but a deep thinker. There’s a coolness, a stoniness, an earthiness that reveals itself with time. And almost a salinity on the nose. That telltale stony-earthiness, to me, really makes a Txakoli a Txakoli. The effervescence is subtle, and the palate is stone fruit, white pepper, and, as I mentioned earth. It’s named for the Altxerri cave, home to some of the oldest cave paintings (like 40,000 years ancient), and I can somewhat taste the drippy, wet stone cave vibes in it. I really can! Txomin Etxaniz Getaria Getariako Txakolina It took a hot minute for a slightly gassy onion-y reduction to blow off, but you will be rewarded with your swirls! It is coppery pink and one of the more still Txaks out there. Rather earthy and rocky, but with a freeze-dried raspberry aroma. The palate is—dare I say hinting at off-dry? Super-ripe sweet pink grapefruit is cut by salinity, which makes me do a little dance. Undercurrents of herbs and still, I think, a little RS on the finish, altogether pleasant AF; just give it a decant. REDDDD??? 2021 Ameztoi Stimatum Wow, I literally never had a red Txakoli to the point of not even realizing they made reds? I had ordered a bottle of Ameztoi, not even realizing what it was, only knowing I love the producer, so imagine my surprise when I poured this, and it was a chilled, slightly effervescent red. Oh. M. GGGG, this is my chilled red jam. It smells crunchy on top of vibrant cranberry fruit, a bit of violet permeating all. Light in body, with the tiniest tannins keeping the ripe red fruit from being too much. Wet stones carry the day, and they finish equal parts earth and juicy juice. SO good. SHOWER TXAKOLI???? This question reveals the lengths of my Txakoli lusts (at least today). As it stands, I’d take the Ameztoi Stimatum into the mist—the surprise of it all keeps me alert in the warmth, the contrast of tannins and ripe fruit being chilled, creating the ultimate shower wine balance. And while “balance” is generally a sign of quality, finding balance in a shower is a super fine line, and the Stimatum toes it. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Want to read more from Ellen? Check out her recent articles: Bolt These for Beltane Lifting: a Rosé Story A Brief Tour of Armenia in Four Wines Cup of Salvation + Your New Favorite Wines Oscar Libations Ellen in Lalaland: Thai Town What to Drink When You’re Not Drinking for Dewy or Dry January: 2024 Edition Mad, Mad, Madeira World You can also listen to Ellen's podcast, The Wine Situation here . Check out her recent transcripts of the Final Five questions: Wine Situation Final Five! Bianca Bosker Wine Situation Final Five! Kelsey Phelps


Primus Circumdedisti Me Getariako Txakolina 2021

Poised, lemon and lime perched on seashore air. The spritely palate balances ripe lemons and white peach with steely minerality, finishing herbal and peppery. — a month ago

Bob, Vin and 6 others liked this


Roca Altxerri Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2022

Subtle but a deep thinker—all the cool, stony, saline notes on the nose. The palate bringing stone fruit, white pepper and earth. — a month ago

Tom, Laura and 3 others liked this

Txomin Etxaniz

Getaria Getariako Txakolina Rosé Blend

Give it a moment and a swirl or two and you will be rewarded with both earth and freeze-dried raspberries cut with salinity. Pleasant AF, just give it a decant. — 2 months ago

Tom, Laura and 3 others liked this


Getariako Txakolina Hondarrabi Zuri 2022

Light on its toes but packing more depth and ripeness of flavor the more you sit with it. Do you have to let it linger? Yes even if the more are not cranberries. But there is light melon and a bit of potting soil, and little bits of lemon and lime zests making it exciting. — 2 months ago

Bob, Tom and 4 others liked this