A super-crisp, low-alcohol Basque white of interest.
From €10.90, $18.99, £15.90, AU$30.
On the UK’s most recent Bank Holiday, amid record-breaking 33 °C (91 °F) temperatures, I was strolling languidly through south-west London, en route home, when I was diverted into the relatively new Putney branch of The Sampler, the wine merchant that arguably pioneered the use of Enomatic machines in the UK.
When I asked the team there what was good at the moment, they highlighted several interesting wines, but the instant I clapped eyes on one in particular, the deal was done: a bottle of Txakoli (see Ferran's recent article Txakoli – not to be dismissed).
The mouth-watering appeal of the crisp, crunchy snap from a nicely chilled glass of this wine coincided perfectly with the sunny afternoon in the garden that my immediate future held. The alcohol level is a mere 11.6%. This is a style to refresh and revivify senses so easily dulled by the heat.
Txakoli sits in the group of lively wines with relatively low alcohol levels and sometimes a bit of spritz found along Europe’s Atlantic coast. Vinho Verde and Muscadet might be better-known appellations and, like those, Txakoli is generally drunk young and preferably accompanied by a platter of local shellfish, with which it partners fantastically well.
But what I found with this example, from Doniene Gorrondona, was an extra dimension of weight and intensity that suggested a somewhat more serious wine than many a (highly quaffable) Txakoli, and which could likely hold its own for a year or two. Admittedly at £15.90 for the 2018, more than most of its peers, one is justified in expecting something extra.
Either way, this wine immediately suggested itself for wine of the week – even if we are edging into cooler autumn days in the UK (though Indian summers are far from unknown here, so there may well be a few more sunny moments suitable for drinking this). Since the 2017 at least has found its way as far afield as Australia, at AU$30, it should be just in time for the warmer spring days around the corner there.
A vibrant, mid-deep, green-flecked gold, this Txakoli has lovely intensity of lime and lemon aromas, with layers of savoury, almost briny mineral tones, and perhaps a hint of dill. On the palate, there is the cut of a freshly-sliced green apple with a squeeze of lemon, and a saline tang. It has plenty of body, though, with an oiliness pointing to lees work that nicely balances the zip of its 8.5 g/l total acidity. While not super-long, it can provide considerable satisfaction.
Doniene Gorrondona make a range of Txakolis including sparkling and barrel-fermented versions. This, though, is their main wine and it is made in a more conventional, unoaked style, in stainless steel with temperature control.
The blend is of course primarily the local variety, Hondarrabi Zuri (aka south-west France’s Courbu), but there’s also 8% of Hondarrabi Zuri Zerratia (Petit Courbu), plus a dash of 4% Mune Mahatsa (Folle Blanche) and 3% of ‘other varieties’. It comes from one of the two smaller Txakoli appellations, Bizkaiko Txakolina which covers barely 60 ha (144 acres) around the Basque Country’s principal city, Bilbao.
All in all, this is an attractive example of the style and a worthy reminder that Txakoli is well worth seeking out.