Txakoli – Pitch Perfect with a plate of Pintxos
If Txakoli is good enough for the sybarites of San Sebastián – where you’ll rarely go more than a few minutes without being reminded that the city has more Michelin stars per capita than any other place in the world – then it should prove popular with a plate of pintxos anywhere.
And Txakoli, meaning wine from a village – often spelt Txacoli and pronounced chac-o-lee – is a traditionally lightly carbonated white wine of Basque origin. While it’s proving a hit in the gastronomic paradise of San Sebastian, this wasn’t always the case. For many years, Txakoli was just seen as local ‘plonk’. As the quality of the wines have improved, so it’s become much more a part of the pintxos/tapas ritual around the Basque country, and it is also getting more export enquiries.
That ‘ritual’ often includes holding and pouring the bottle from around shoulder-height into a tumbler rather than a wine glass, thus aerating the wine and producing a burst of tiny bubbles.
The founders of Pure Spain have been watching the growing popularity of Txakoli in the Basque Country for a while. On a buying trip, which included a visit to San Sebastián and its famous Parte Vieja, it was noticeable that a lot of the locals were ordering Txakoli, when for many years they would have drunk zurritos or the local tinto. It’s all the more noticeable because the barmen pour it from a height, as they do with cider at the Basque cidrerías. Txakoli is a little bit unusual, and authentically Basque, and ultimately, Pure Spain wanted to stock it because it really is a delicious wine to drink on its own, with tapas, or with summer food.
Pure Spain is now importing Txakoli Egia Enea – awarded a Silver Bacchus by the Spanish Wine Tasters Association – which comes from the denominación of Bizkaiko Txakolina in the hills outside Bilbao, where the wines tend to be less fizzy and a bit fuller and rounder (13%). Bizkaiko Txakolina is one of only three denominated areas for Txakoli.
Hondarrabi Zuri is the main grape variety, a white grape grown almost exclusively in the Basque Country. Straw-coloured and aromatically complex, it offers lime, white ripe fruits with a slight hint of spice, minerals and smoke. It has good depth in the mouth, yet with a crispness that keeps it fresh and lively. Perfect summer drinking on its own but great with fish, white meats, salads and long, lazy barbecues.
Txakoli Egin Enea is available direct from www.purespain.co.uk at £12.95 per bottle. You can also sample and buy Txakoli from Pure Spain at many food fairs around the country this summer.