Friday, April 17, 2009

2007 Txomin Etxaniz Getariako Txakolina Basque Country Spain

2007 Txomin Etxaniz Getariako Txakolina Basque Country Spain

Suggested retail price $21-$24

Distributed by Tempranillo, Inc in NYC

Txomin Etxaniz is located in the heart of one of Spain’s smallest appellations: Txacoli of Getaria or Chacolí de Guetaria in Spanish.

Txakoli of Getaria (Getariako Txakolina in Basque) is a very small appellation located approximately 10 kilometers west of San Sebastian (North of Spain). The appellation encompasses 85 hectares of vineyards planted on very steep, green, terraced and ocean-washed slopes facing the Cantabrian Sea. The ocean influence and the chalky soil bring minerality and freshness to the wines. Txacoli benefits from a temperate climate, with abundant rainfall, and its people (the Basque) are traditionally hardy and proud.

Getaria is a beautiful little village located about 15 minutes driving from San Sebastian. It is a charming fisherman "bourg" with three of my favorites place in the world: the Saiaz Hotel (quint with an extraordinary view on the bay of Getaria) and Kaia-Kaipe restaurant, specialized in grilled fish, especially the Turbo for two, and it has one of the best wine list for old Rioja wines (that I know). The third one is a great restaurant, topping a cliff, with a beautiful, modern dining room overlooking the ocean, called Akelare. The food is a fusion of Spanish and Basque cuisine with a "Nouvelle Cuisine" approach and price, yet it is definitely worth it, especially if you have a spare lunch in your agenda.

Txakoli (or Txakolina) is a slightly sparkling (or "Perlant", should I say) white wine exclusively produced in the Basque Country of Spain. It is mainly produced from the local white grape “Hondarribi Zuri” but can be sometimes blended with a touch of “Hondarribi Beltza” (a local red grape variety), to add flavors and structure. It was traditionally fermented in "foudres" (very old, large oak barrels) but nowadays, most Txakolina are fermented in big stainless steel tanks.

FYI: If you happen to visit one (or more) Txokoli (Chacoli, for some people) wineries, they will surely bring you down to the cellar to appreciate a glass (or two) of this refreshing style of slightly fizzy white poured from a great height straight from the tanks (into a flat tumbler placed a few meters below). Txakolina wines are high in acidity, low in alcohol and usually served in a tumbler, with fried or grilled white fish and of course the most well-known food of Spain: tapas.

Txakolina D.O.Cs: There are 3 “Denominaciones de Origen” (D.O.) dedicated to the production of Txakolina: Arabako Txakolina (Spanish: Chacolí de Alava), Bizkaiko Txakolina (Spanish: Chacolí de Vizcaya), and Getariako Txakolina (Spanish: Chacolí de Guetaria).

Txomin Etxaniz is surely one of the best producers of Txakoli. The Chueca family has made Txomin Etxaniz the benchmark wine of the appellation. Although, their label could almost suggest that they belong to an older time, the winery is packed with the latest technology. The winery, founded in 1930, is located in the heart of the fisherman village of Getaria, in a 15th Century building.

They started as a “Caserios” (or local wine farm) and never stopped promoting the friendliness and the quality of their wines. With them, many generations of other winegrowers dedicated themselves to the culture of this wine and the elaboration of Txakoli, leading among other things the constitution in 1989 of the D.O Getariako Txakolina.

Txomin Etxaniz possesses nearly 24 hectares of vines, growing on terraced slopes creating a trompe l’oeil effect to the ocean, where the two native varieties are cultivated: 85% of Hondarrabi zuri and 10-13% of Hondarrabi beltza completed with a touch of Cabernet Franc.

After harvest, the whole grapes are gently pressed with a pneumatic press. The fermentation takes place at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks. Txomin's Txakolis are elaborated in two warehouses located in the vineyards of Getaria: Gurutze & Amets Mendi. The wine rests on its lees (a bit like a Muscadet) and after several months in stainless steel tanks, it is bottled with leftovers of its natural carbonic gas; thus the fizzy feeling in the palate. The vinification his overseen by Andrés and Ernesto Chueca Isasti.

2007 Txomin Etxaniz Getariako Txakolina is crisp, lively, friendly and fresh with citrus fruits, white blossom and great minerality on the finish. Excellent balance and length without being complicated. The pearling touch (or fizz) on the palate makes it fun, versatile and easy going. Enjoy at anytime.

In conclusion, I can say that I love Txakoli wines (and the Basque country where I go nearly every year). These white wines breathing daily the Atlantic ocean waves and air, are delightful all year long (although do not keep them for too long, they are meant to be drunk young). Increasing demand, small production and hand harvest (especially on the vines pouring down the cliff and braving the ocean temper), understandably raise the price up, so price could be an issue...(especially in this economy). However, these white wines are really good and you should at least try them, Txomin being one of the best ones around (with Ameztoi).

Reminder: In order to really appreciate it, the wine needs to be poured from a certain height into a flat bottom glass (in a similar way as a Moroccan tea). It needs air to express itself. Drink it fresh, young (it doesn’t age) and accompanied by seafood, fish and poultry.


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1 comment:

  1. Does Txomin Etxaniz use organic practices or sustainable farming?