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Basque Country Wines for Beginners and Great Food Pairings #worldwinetravel

Our World Wine Travel group is exploring the wines of Spain this entire year. That makes me so happy, as my favorite travel experience so far has been our trip to Spain in September of 2019.  Jill of L'Occasion is hosting us and you can visit her here.  You can see a list of my posts on Spanish wines below.

January: Our First Rioja
February: Chicken Empanadas and Azimut Cava
March: Exploring Castilla y Leon through Wine and Food
April: One Grape: Three Unique Experiences with Albarino

The Basques have been making wine since the Roman Empire invaded the Iberian Peninsula.  The wines in this area are white wines, light and fresh, made to go with fish and seafood which the area is known for.  The wines are citrusy and floral, with a lot of minerality.  You can certainly taste the sea and a bunch of fresh herbs in these delightful wines.

Image credit:  https://vineyards.com/wine-map/spain/basque-country

Let's explore the wine regions a bit more. There are three DOs in the area with the first being Txakoli de Getaria. This area produces young, soft yellow, and fruity wines. It's poured high in the glass, like ciders, and has a slightly bubbly effect. They make about 2M bottles per year.

Txakoli de Alava produces approximately 300K bottles of wine a year. The primary grapes used are Ondarribi Zuri and the Ondarribi Beltza.

The third Txakoli de Bizkaia makes about 1.2M bottles of wine. They use the same grapes as Txakoli de Alava but also produce a pink/red wine that is delicious called Ojo Gallo.

The best food pairings for these wines are pretty simple: pintxos (much like tapas) which are made from a variety of foods, but traditionally was some sort of a topping skewered to a bite-sized bit of bread. These days the bread isn't always served, but still, they are small, bite-sized nibbles.  Cold pintxos will be placed on the bar, where you serve yourself when the waiter or bartender offers you a plate. You will see items like olives and anchovies, marinated salt cod, crab salad, or maybe Iberico ham, most of which are served on a small piece of bread, held together with a cocktail pick.  Some bars have more fancy pintxos and will be served warm.  These you definitely order from a waiter.

I ordered up a bottle of Alleme Getariako Txakolina 2020. It's a fruity white with a slight bubble, with citrus, minerals, and floral notes.  This light green-tinged yellow wine has a fresh lemon-lime and green apple feel in the mouth and a long finish.  This is a wine you can store for a couple of years, but drinking it now is perfect, too.

The winery that makes this is called Talai-Berri and is located in Zarautz.  The winery was built in 1992 and lays on the sunny slopes of Mount Talai Mendi.  Four generations have been making wines here. The focus is on quality and advanced techniques to make a young and fruity wine.

We are serving this wine with Shallow-Poached Salmon with Leek Beurre Blanc.  We found the recipe in the April 2021 Food & Wine magazine and it is also here online. The recipe teaches you how to poach a beautiful piece of salmon in a forgiving cooking method called shallow poaching. You tent the fish under a circle of parchment paper (called a cartouche.)  It's a fun cooking method that makes even the most beginner of us feel like gourmet chefs!

As usual, we are gathering on Saturday at 10 CT for our Twitter chat to talk more about Basque wines.  We'd love for you to join us and to find us use the hashtag #worldwinetravel.  Below are the other posts on Basque wines:

Would you like to comment?

  1. That salmon looks delicious! I will have to give that recipe a try! I had not heard of Ojo Gallo! I will have to look for that!

  2. Your salmon looks lovely Terri but it's those stuffed mushrooms that caught my eye. Sounds like you found the perfect pairing.

  3. That wine looks fabulous and I have never seen the cartouche method of poaching. Thanks for teaching me something new.

  4. These wines are so summery perfect, aren't they? Such an interesting poaching method, too. Will give it a try sometime.

  5. This looks like a delicious feast to go with the Txakolinas! It's been a while since I've used a cartouche, but you're totally right that it's a great professional trick and really helps cook the fish beautifully.

  6. I think I may have tried that recipe from Food & Wine, yours looks beautiful!

  7. I'm not familiar with shallow poaching. I'm wondering if you can substitute a lid on the pan for the parchment lid? At any rate, your salmon looks amazing!


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