Top 10 Spanish regions to watch18th December, 2013 by Lucy Shaw
Txakoli (pronounced Chacolí) is a fresh, crisp, light white with a hint of spritz and a lick of salt from the Atlantic Ocean comparable to Portugal’s Vinho Verde.
Produced in three DOs in the Basque Country: Bizkaiko Txakolina to the south-west of Bilbao, Getariako Txakolina, which borders the Cantabrian coast, and Arabako Txakolina, the furthest inland, the trio form one of Spain’s smallest but most hyped wine regions with around 600 hectares under vine dominated by flagship white grape, Hondarrabi Zuri.
While small in stature, the region has recently caught the eye of both consumers and critics. Keen to up their game, producers are turning their backs on the sharp whites of the past to embrace modern styles that offer freshness and restrained alcohol around the 11% abv mark.
While vines have been growing in the area as far back as 1649, production across the three sub-zones remains small. At popular London tapas bar Donostia, Txakoli is poured Basque-style from a height into glass tumblers adding a dash of theatre to proceedings and helping to aerate the wine in the process.
The US has also developed a thirst for the gently sparkling white, which is gaining a legion of followers in New York, spearheaded by Manhattan restaurant Txikito, which hosts an annual Txakoli fair, Txikifest, showcasing Basque food and the latest Txakoli releases from a number of key producers in the region.