“A Basque with a big leather wine-bag in his lap lay across the top of the bus in front of our seat, leaning back against our legs. He offered the wine-skin to Bill and to me, and when I tipped it up to drink he imitated the sound of a klaxon motor-horn so well and so suddenly that spilled some of the wine, and everybody laughed. He apologized and made me take another drink.”
-Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
When I think of Basque wine, I think of Jake Barnes and Bill Gorton fishing near Burguete (from Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises). Hemingway must have been ahead of his time because recently Basque wines have started to pop up all over the Bay Area. Not long ago I had a rosé from Ameztoi (2014 Ameztoi ‘Rubentis’ Rosado Txakolina), and I was thoroughly impressed. This rosé was quite vibrant and acid driven, with notes of unripened strawberries, herbs, lime skin, meat, and peppers. It was slightly sparkling (think Vinho Verde, not Champagne) and had a great balance of fruit and acid. I was struck by how herbal and peppery this rosé was, and the tart acidity was literally mouth-watering. This Txakoli (say ‘chok-oh-lee’) showed me a different side of rosé. I was pleasantly surprised with how different and delicious it was.
Ameztoi Txakolina is considered to be one of the top producers of Getariako Txakolina (the D.O. for wine surrounding the towns of Getaria and Zarautz in Northern Spain). Ameztoi has 20 hectares (just shy of 50 acres) near Getaria, and Ignacio Ameztoi is making the wine (7th generation, mind you). The ‘Rubentis’ is a 50/50 blend of Hondarribi Beltza and Hondarribi Zuri, a red grape and a white grape, respectively. The grapes are grown on sand and clay soils. This rosado is fermented in stainless steel and bottled with some residual carbonic acid, which gives it a lovely fizz, naturally.
This wine is absolutely delicious and exciting to drink. Cheers to De Maison Selections for importing such an awesome wine.