Txakoli - Fresh Basque Wine

January 2004

When we climbed into a car in the beautiful Basque beach town of Zarauz for the journey to see the Txakoli harvest, we expected to get at least a bit tired of the ride. But barely had we buckled up when we were pulling into the vineyard where Arregi Getariako Txakolina is produced. We were so close to the sea that, on the way, we saw three surfers carrying their boards through the fields toward the famous surf of Zarauz.

Txakoli Getariako grapes are grown in a small region, on hills facing the sea. They are grown on trellises to allow air to circulate around the grapes, keeping them fresh in this moist climate. We watched as the harvester brought in trays of plump, bright green grapes and poured them into the press. After pressing, Txakoli is fermented and bottled in a matter of weeks. The result is a very fresh, young wine with a high acidity. 

Later, in the tasting room, the owners showed us how to pour Txakoli. As with Asturian sidra, the bottle is held high and poured into the glass, releasing a spray of tiny bubbles - the refreshing light effervescence that makes Txakoli special. The well chilled wine had a green apple tartness and a bold minerality. As we learned, small amounts should be poured and enjoyed quickly to capture the bubbly, fresh flavor.

Because so few vineyards make Txakoli, and it is so new to the market, this wine is a rarity in the U.S. We like to serve a chilled bottle with local seafood, such as fresh oysters or seared scallops, and it is fun to introduce our guests to an unusual wine that speaks of a unique and beautiful part of Spain.