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Splendor in the Glass



Splendor in the Glass
WRITER: 
PHOTOGRAPHER: 
May 2019

This slightly effervescent Basque wine is your new summer favorite

Txakolina—often shortened to txakoli (rhymes with broccoli)—is native to the uniquely independent Basque region in northern Spain. With vineyards overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, salt air wafts over the vines, adding a component of ocean spray to the wine’s bright, mineral-driven taste. Frequently found as a white (made from indigenous hondarrabi zuri grapes), txakolina’s characteristic slight effervescence makes for an ideal beverage to break out as temperatures rise.

“Spritzy wines cleanse the palate, like scrubbing bubbles,” says Sarah O’Kelley, Edmund’s Oast Exchange sommelier and general manager. “Txakolina is super refreshing and an easy wine for people to like.”

Though less commonly carried in the States, red and rosé varieties—made from hondarrabi beltza grapes—are no less revelatory. The rosé, with crushed strawberry notes, still reflects a strong minerality, while the red is light and earthy, with a cherry-blackberry profile. Fans of vinho verde, sauvignon blanc, or albariño may find their next easy-drinking summer favorite in txakolina. Bonus: since it hails from a small region, this wine is rarely mass-produced. “The average quality is much higher,” O’Kelley notes. “You likely won’t find a bad txakolina.”

Tips & Tricks

■ Sipping this wine transports drinkers to bustling pintxo bars in coastal San Sebastian. There, txakolina is ubiquitous—as are the dramatic pours executed by Basque country bartenders. Holding the bottle high above the head, the wine tumbles into the glass below, adding aeration to the wine and creating a burst of bubbles.
■ Given txakolina’s seaside origins, white and rosé versions pair perfectly with seafood—everything from fish frys to shrimp boils.
■ Serve the red chilled for your next summer grill-out, with burgers or hanger steak.
■ Want to liven up the party? “Bring a porrón,” says O’Kelley. The thin-spouted, small glass pitcher funnels wine into a single stream. “It’s just so much fun. There’s no way to have just a bit.” You can purchase a small porrón for $20 at Edmund’s Oast Exchange.

Ameztoi txakolina is available by the bottle at Edmund’s Oast Exchange.

Where to Find (& Drink) Txakolina:

White
■ 2017 Uriondo Bizkaiko Txakolina - Fresh green apples, crisp salinity; $12/glass, $46/bottle at 167 Raw, 289 E. Bay St., 167raw.com
■ 2016 Bengoexte Txakolina - Lush lemony fruit, a touch of petrol, chamomile; $22/bottle at Monarch Wine Merchants; 1107 King St., Suite B, monarchwinemerchants.com

Rosé
■ 2018 Camino Roca Altxerri Rosé - Bone dry with angular acidity and raspberry, lime zest notes; $13/glass, $54/bottle at Chubby Fish, 252-A Coming Street, chubbyfishchs.com
■ 2018 Ameztoi Rubentis - Strawberries and white flowers backed by refreshing minerality; $21/bottle at Edmund’s Oast Exchange, 1081 Morrison Dr., edmundsoast.com/exchange

Skin Contact (Orange)
■ 2016 Itsamendi Bat Berri - Slight smoke with bright red fruits and grippy tannins; $66/bottle at The Ordinary, 544 King St., eattheordinary.com

Red
■ 2017 Ameztoi Stimatum - Spicy and acid-driven with clove, red current, and vibrant tannins; $12/glass, $44/bottle at Renzo, 384 Huger St., renzochs.com