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So far, this Spring has felt like Winter with a dash of Summer and a lot of rain. At this point, we are likely to wake up one day and discover that it's the middle of Summer. Though it seems we will have a few classic pleasant Spring days, with a warm, reassuring sun during the day and "hoodie weather" at night, we should soon be preparing for hot weather and the thirst quenching wines that accompany it!
The first of a few simalarly themed refreshing wine emails, today's is focused solely on one of Spain's major contributions to the category, Txakolina. Some are here, some are on the way from Spain, so consider this a chance to plan ahead and square away some precious crisp white resources to tide you over during the Summer months.
Txakoli is traditionally made as a white wine with a hint of effervescence. There are three sub-zones for Txakoli: Getariako, Bizkaiko, and Arabako; all have stylistic differences. Getarikoa will show the more traditional Txakoli syles of wet stone and citrus with more CO2 presence; Bizkaiko are slightly more full-bodied and sometimes even tropical, and wines from Arabako tend to have less CO2 and have more petrol and smoke from the Tufa soil underneath. The Basque serve these wines along side their local version of tapas (Pintxos), with a variety of salt cod dishes, or as an aperitif. They are are strikingly textured, with bracingly tart citrus and mineral flavors. The old-timers of the region think: the more tart the better. These wines are the ultimate summertime picnic wines and are rivaled only by Muscadet in the perfection of their match with shellfish and seafood.
Some of the wines on offer are arriving in the next week or two, so we will have everything ready to ship and deliver by the end of May.
Iri is an exceptional white that is firmly in the Txakolina realm, and simultaneously transcending it. Coming from a single vineyard called Irimingorrieta, which overlooks the Cantabrian sea, this is a zero added sulfur bottling that is Itziar Insausti’s passionate effort to show the potential of the Hondarrabi Zuri grape. Insausti wants to show that it can produce great, age-worthy wines of depth, in contrast (or complement) to the fresh and zippy style that it is most commonly associated with. The vineyard, on sandstone and shale soils, has much lower than average yields, which gives more concentration and density while still providing ample acidity and mineral structure. Grapes are carefully selected, fermented with native yeast in stainless steel and the wine is aged for 5 months on the lees, with partial malolactic fermentation. Stony, dense, and crystalline on the palate, with lemon curd and seashells aromas, and faint notes of curry and melted butter. An truly outstanding Hondarrabi Zuri!
The classic Txakoli! With intensely focused lime peel, green apple and wet stone notes, this has a vivacious texture from residual CO2 and lively acidity, finishing incredibly saline and persistent. This is a ridiculously refreshing white from the land of all things Basque. Very easy to drink, just don't forget it's wine!
This dry, crisp, slightly effervescent rose is a testament to the Ameztoi family's long history of producing txakoli in Getaria. This rose is made from Hondarribi Beltza and Hondarribi Zuri grapes, grown on sand and clay soils and fermented in steel tanks with indigenous yeast. Plenty of salty character and a delicate green herbal note complementing fresh watermelon and strawberry.
The benchmark Txakoli from Gorrondona, this is majority Hondarrabi Zuri, with about 10% other local grapes. Harvest is by hand into small boxes, fermentation in stainless steel with indigenous yeast. Lees aging is until January, and sulfur use is minimal. The 2020 vintage was overall without stress or disease in the vineyards, and slightly more balanced and energetic than 2019 for Gorrondona, and it seems, across the board in the region. Salty, stony, mineral, and perfect for picnics, salty snacks and seafood.
Iñaki and Rosa Maria Etxeberria produce Bengoetxe in the cool, very green Basque country on the border with France. The humid climate and the influence of the Atlantic Ocean yield wines with lots of bright acidity grown from native grapes (in this case, Hondarribi Zuri and a tiny bit of Gros Manseng). The Exeberrias pursue a lower-intervention and more serious style of Txakoli, harvesting by hand, fermenting with native yeasts, and resting for a full year on the lees in steel tanks before bottling without captured CO2. Bengoetxe is from vineyards from a slightly warmer site, and the wine shows rich citrus, melon, smoke and herbs on the palate. Always long and extremely mineral on the palate, with brilliant acidity and freshness.