With the temps and humidity finally making their annual appearance, it’s time to break out that classic summer bestie – rose. If you’re like me and other wine geeks, odds are likely that you’re well into your stock, despite this season’s tardy arrival from the classic Old World areas. France and Italy, I’m looking at you.
What is summer if not a time to break from the usual routines that mark the rest of the year? I’ve embarked on a personal challenge to explore new options for summer that heretofore I’ve overlooked or just didn’t know about.
How fitting, then, upon the arrival of the summer solstice, I welcomed a fun, new BFF into my line-up of summer quenchers. Its name: Txakoli (cha-ko-lee … kind of like Chipotle). Sure, it’s a little hard to pronounce the first time … or twenty … and its pedigree is obscure. Once you taste it on a late summer afternoon, the name will soon slip off the tongue with the same ease as downing the fresh oyster that pairs so wonderfully with it.
My introduction to Txakoli came courtesy of Kevin Hart of wineCRAFT at the Anchor Grill in OTR . Given the St. Patrick’s party nature of the bottle and the overall obscurity of the wine, a little nomenclature taxonomy for greater enjoyment, interesting party chatter or sleep aid is in order.
Winemaker: Nicolas Ulacia. Much of the winemaking is small scale, including the lovely bottle I enjoyed. Founded in the 1940s, the winery produces just 6,000 cases a year. Much of it never gets beyond the region. Spoiler alert: Txakoli might take some consultation with your local wine store to find it but keep at it.
Appellation: Getariako Txakolina. You’re probably thinking “it’s Greek to me” when, in fact, Getariako Txakolina is located in the Basque region of Spain. The Basque is on the Atlantic coast in the northern Spain where it’s typically cool and rainy. In Spain’s wine classification system, it is a Denominacion de Origen, an indication of quality. For foodies, the area is located near San Sebastian, home to more Michelin starred restaurants per capita than anywhere in Europe, according to the distributor’s web site (www.skurnickwines.com).
Grape: The wine is made from two very obscure grapes – 85% Hondarrubi Zuri, a white grape, and 15% Hondarrubi Belza, a red grape.
Geek Highlight: Traditional fermentation is in foudres (large old oak barrels) but lately it’s all stainless steel. The two grapes are fermented separately and then blended. The winemaker keeps the carbon dioxide in the bottle, which provides the light effervescence known as petillance in France or frizzante in Italy.
What to Expect: A delightfully crisp, very pale wine with a mouthful of very refreshing acidity and green apple and lime notes. With its low to medium levels of alcohol, Txakoli is a wine that cheerfully says “bring it” to the heat and humidity of a steamy summer day or early evening.
And, if it couldn’t get any more charming, Txakoli is typically served holding the slender green bottle high in the air in one hand and the glass low to the ground all the while guiding the stream of wine into your glass. The result: a sprite of a wine that you’ll want to serve well chilled as a perfect aperitif or pairing to fresh shellfish. Summer doesn’t last forever and neither does this wine. Much like white linen, it isn’t meant to be worn beyond Labor Day.