An insiders guide to San Sebastian and the best things to do in 1 day. If you are planning on spending a few days in San Sebastian, Spain, then we suggest reading this post in which we have summed up in an easy guide what there is to see and do and how to get there. … Read More
We continue our articles on different Spanish wine regions. If the last region we covered was Priorat, near Barcelona, on this occasion we go north, near the French border, to discover the txacoli wines.
We cam only think about a few examples where the landscape defines the character and personality of the wine in such a way as Txacolí wines. Even though there are red and rosé wines coming out of this region, in this article we will dedicate ourselves to the white wines from Txacolí.
Before talking about these wines it is well deserved to pause and revisit the consumption habits in the Basque Country, the birthplace of Txacolí. It is here (and roughly the rest of Northern Spain) where we find the highest wine consumption in the country. The traditional habit of going out for drinks and food is locally known as chateo, an expression that refers to the chatos (“flat” in English), the type of short glasses where they serve the wine, accompanied by some pintxos (as the Basques refer to their tapas).
Wine from Rioja was and still is the predominant type of wine in bars and restaurants in the Basque Country. The Txacolí is understood as a very fresh white wine, with a peculiar high acidity, low alcoholic graduation, and in some cases, somewhat aromatic.
What is the grape varietal used to make Txacolí? It is the Hondarribi-zuri, which gets its name from the village of Hondarribi, or Fuenterrabía, located East of San Sebastian, right at the border with France and with a large and rich history behind it. Txacoli is one most searched for San Sebastian winery tours.
This type of grape is perfectly adapted to the humid conditions and the moderate temperatures of the production zones in the region. Vineyards are planted on the terrain below 1.300 feet above sea level.
This private wine tour from San Sebastian begins with a spectacular walk in the town of Zumaia where you will discover the Flysch Route on this beautiful coast of the Basque Country with your local guide. The tour continues to Getaria, a charming fishing village in the Basque Country that ties the land with the sea. You will visit one of its wineries that produce the local txakoli wine and, afterwards, enjoy a delicious meal at one of Getaria’s famous “parrilladas”. Enjoy a nice walk through the village’s beautiful historic center as well as its colourful fishing portRead More
There is an initial time of expansion in the Txacolí history when at the end of the 19th century the chacolines emerged. They were popular taverns with very limited menus, much like the cider bars, but serving mainly cod and cuttlefish paired with the Txacolí wines. This kind of popular consumption required for bigger venues. Later on, the 20th century was witness not only to the Txacolí origin but also to the rest of wine production in Spain (and other countries) within an expansive model centered on industrial efficiency.
This takes us to the second boom of Txacolí, which is the one we currently live in. This is a much more terroir-centered, fruit-forward model. We are not facing an isolated case here. This is a phenomenon we keep observing in several wine producers from all regions, along with other agricultural products. It is true though that the impressive rise of the high-end gastronomical scene in the Basque Country has been a catalyst to finding the right quality guidelines, no longer targeting the chateo, but aiming to be embedded in the fancy white-cloth restaurants conducted by reputable chefs.
This shift in wine was not possible without a change in the philosophy behind winemaking. In this way, Txacolí wines foster their reorientation on a group of pillars that define and give a new meaning to their character.
– Acidity. The reputation of harsh wines that the more popular Txacolí had, now revolves around the mindful management of acidity by the winemaker, trying to hone it to create fresh but elegant wines. Reorientation of vineyards to face south has also assisted this objective, allowing a more thorough ripeness in the grapes.
– Extricate themselves from the cider concept. The popular notion of Txacolí has been related to natural cider in the way it is poured, from an extended-arm height, a custom called escanciar. This method brings out the carbonic and gets a crispier feeling in the palate. Currently, winemakers are not looking for residual carbonic in their wines, but clear and bright, clarified end products instead.
– Winemaking. Regarding this area, we can talk about different elements during the vinification process that contribute to a full range of options while making wine. Some wineries choose to ferment on their fine lees to gain some complexity. Not limited to that technique, there are other wine estates that delay the harvest dates hoping to increase the sugar concentration on the grapes, aiming for higher concentration. Others will go through very controlled barrel aging, trying to give their wines more complexity without losing that Atlantic character of Txacolí.
This change in the winemaking philosophy is shared by the different sub regions in the designation of origin (D.O.).
Txacolí de Bizcaia brings together 57 wine estates which produce wine in very modest volumes. Txacolí de Getaria , in the Getaria and Zarauz area, spreads out also until Fuenterrabía, past San Sebastian to the East. The number of wineries under its belt is fewer (24), but their production is bigger than Bizcaia. And lastly, there is the Txacolí de Álava, the smallest and least known of the three, with just 7 member wineries surrounding the village of Ayala.
Other food, wine or tapas tours that may interest you in San Sebastian
There are so many things to enjoy in San Sebastian! These are some of our favorite tours to make the most out of your stay in the city!
San Sebastian is probably the most famous place for a cooking class in Spain. Immerse in the food culture of the Basque country with a superb cooking class in San Sebastian, Spain´s gastronomy capital. Learn about the preparation of some of the most famous pintxos and also some of the most classic dishes of Basque gastronomy. Enjoy your preparations during the dinner after the class … Read More
A unique private gastronomic experience and one of the best tours from San Sebastian. With pickup from your hotel, this private tour will take you to the charming fishing town of Hondarribia situated very close to the French border. Your local tour guide will show you around the old quarter and fishermen´s neighborhood while sharing the town´s fascinating history and way of life. You will enjoy an exclusive meal at one of Hondarribia´s gastronomic societies, a private members-only club that the locals use for enjoying a nice meal consisting of delicious local gastronomy and wine … Read More
Getaria is a beautiful village in the spanish Basque Country. It is famous for the quality of its gastronomy, which uses the grill for meat and for fish. The most significant element of its gastronomy is the quality of the raw material of the ingredients used … Read More