What is Txakoli? Triple X Flight of Fancy, Part 2

The Wine of the Week by Annette Tomei

2016 Luzia de Ripa, Txakoli, Txakoli de Alava (Arabako Txakolina) DO, Spain

What is Txakoli? And, how do you say the word without sounding like you’re sneezing? As for the pronunciation, it is choc-o-lee. The word itself is Basque for village wine (aka local wine). Txakolina is a Basque winemaking village. As Txakoli grows in popularity as well as in production quantity and quality, its name hints at humble roots as a local, homemade wine.

Arabako Txakolina is the newest of the three DO designations for Txakoli (recognized in 2001). It is located South of Bilbao in a region known for high rainfall and humidity within a cool climate. These conditions are ideal for a long ripening process, yielding light bodied, often young and spritzy, high acid, dry, fruity wines. Though reds and rosés are produced here, most wines are white.

The primary grape of Txakoli is the Hondarrabi Zuri. It’s named for a town in the region (Hondarribia); zuri means white. Though very popular in its region of origin, this grape has yet to find an international market. Txakoli is typically a blend of grapes. In the case of this 2016 Luzia de Ripa, the secondary grape is Izpiriotza Txikia (another x-word!), a local variety that is also known as Petit Manseng (much easier to pronounce!).

About this Wine

Luzia de Ripa was a female monk in this region in the 16th century who wrote about vineyards and grape growing. Her namesake wine is rich with the aromas of pineapple and dry leaves. There is a distinct and quite pleasant hint of smokiness (despite the absence of oak in the winemaking). Other unique and enticing aromas and flavors include beeswax, lemon curd, anise, and savory mineral notes. This wine has a pleasant lemony acidity and only 12.5% ABV.

Txakoli is made to pair with pintxos – flavorful small bites. I can’t think of a better way to become familiar with the flavors of the Basque region. Try this wine with the local cheese, Idiazabal. Also, with grilled or fire-roasted seafood and shellfish, seared scallops, or roasted stuffed peppers. For a total departure from tradition, try this wine with Asian noodles flavored with richly aromatic toasted sesame oil.

The Verdict

This wine was a surprise favorite in our Triple X tasting flight. It is so unique and exciting, it’s a must-try. This particular wine seems to be unique for its category, so I consider it worth seeking out (average price: $20/bottle). I also recommend getting to know Txakoli in general – especially if you like Vinho Verde (as I do) – they are comparable in style.

I hope you enjoyed the second pour of our Triple X Flight of Fancy, and that you will continue to join me over the next few weeks as we continue our summertime flights of fancy!

For more about where I enjoyed this and other flights, please visit here.


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