I’d had txakoli, that fizzy Spanish white wine from the Basque country, only once before, thanks to a bottle of Xarmant that a good friend of mine had brought back from a trip a couple of years ago. It was pleasantly refreshing, with a bit of residual sugar, in that case. Something like a vinho verde with more fizz. A good summer sipper.
As I read about txakoli, after a friend of mine mentioned having tasted some in Spain, a few years ago, one name kept coming back: Txomin Etxaniz, generally named as the best producer in all the txakoli appellations. So when I finally got my hands on a bottle (there is a little Xarmant available in Quebec, in private imports, but no other txakoli) I was happy to finally get to taste what top txakoli is all about.
It is, I have to say, very pleasant and very well made. Bright acidity, lovely lemon-citrus flavors, refreshing, bone-dry, with a touch of yeast and a neat, pleasant mineral backbone. The fizz is best revealed when you pour the wine from a little high above your glass: the wine then fills with the tiniest of bubbles, and leaves a white ring on its edge, showing the persistence of the carbonic gas in the txakoli.
It did very well with our meal of fish baked in banana leaves with a curried coconut milk sauce, fizzing pleasantly above the spiciness of the dish and opening up flavors in an interesting fashion. Long beans in hoisin sauce also worked well, showing the intensity and persistence of that light-seeming wine.
Still. Taxes included, the wine came to above 25$ US. A fair bit of money for a wine that is, again, in many ways, a more carbonic version of vinho verde. Top vinho verdes rarely cost anything more than 15$.
There is a fashion surrounding txakoli, right now, in the United States, and I’m very happy for the producers who are getting a very good price for their wine. But at over 25$, txakoli will be a very occasional buy, for me, even the excellent Txomin Etxaniz, which was impeccable and precise, and pretty much perfect, for what it is supposed to be. Under 20$, you’d probably see me buying by the case.
So I guess I’ll have to keep it as a rare treat. Or wait a bit for the fashion to subside. Or go to the Basque country, where it sells for a lot, lot less.