Last week, some friends of friends came to stay with us for a few days in Madrid while they attended an enormous Tourism Convention called Fitur, located in a massive warehouse near the airport. These two gentlemen from the Basque Country were cunning enough to know that by offering a bottle of Spanish wine as a “can we sleep on your couch for a few days” will always win a few points in our house, but bringing four bottles of Basque wine will not only give you a free lodging, but most likely a fabulous meal as well.
About a week later, we cracked open one of their bottles, the 2004 Bodegas Virgen de Lorea Txakolina Aretxaga from the Bizkaiko region in the Basque Country. Although I have tried a few Txakoli’s in the past, I am far from an expert on Basque wines. Hence, I made my way over to our makeshift wine library and took a few minutes to familiarize myself with the highly political, yet rarely wine related, Basque Country. Evidently, this region is broken down into three DOs: Arabako, Bizkaiko and Getariako Txakolina. Bizkaiko, the region from which the bottle was made in, is the smallest of the three DOs and runs along the Northern coast from east to west.
Keep in mind that when looking for Txakoli, you might also need to look under the Spanish spelling, Chacoli. And for those of you who are looking at me a little crossed-eyed with a large question mark dangling over your head in curiosity as to how you might go about pronouncing this wine, allow me to give you a rule: “tx” is pronounced like “ch”. Makes life a little easier, now doesn’t it.
Finally, I discovered that Txakoli is typically made from the Hondarribi Zuri white grape variety, which accounts for approximately 85 percent of all Chacoli; while the other 15 percent is made from the Hondarabi Beltza grape that produces either red or rosé wines. If you’re like me, grape names like these are fantastic because they’re so complicated that it is almost impossible to forget the name or confuse it with another variety. Txakoli itself is known as a fresh, bright, light wine that is a perfect match with this region’s coastal seafood cuisine, such as cod, baby eels, assorted crab, shrimp and scallops.
When I stuck my nose deep into the glass, I found myself taking eight or nine whiffs before the slight hint of peach and grass finally came drifting up from the glass. While, Ryan found green apples, nuts and white flowers on the nose immediately, I was struggling just to find traces of fruit. Granted, Txakolis are expected to be quite light, but I was surprised at how light it actually was, whereas, the palate appeared a bit more substantial. While the fresh, crisp acidity danced on my palate, I still found myself struggling to pick out daisy and peach flavors. Overall, the wine itself was a pleasure to sip and swirl with its light body, high acidity and spring flavors; it might make you crave for that first warm April Spring day.
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