2011 Ameztoi Txakolina “Rubentis”

NOTE: This is our inaugural international offering. See here for an explanation of this next step in Full Pull’s evolution.
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Hello friends. Here is what you will do.

You will fly into Barcelona, and, despite the whimsical beauty of its Gaudian architecture, you won’t stay long. The countryside beckons.

You will board a train, and hours later, you will arrive on the coast, at San Sebastian. Because it’s one of the gustatory capitals of Europe, you’ll stay for lunch. This is your lunch.

Now full and sleepy, you will stagger to a bus stop. You will board a bus that you hope is moving in the right direction. This is your bus route.

You’ll exit your bus at Getaria, in the golden light of late afternoon. You’ll walk down the narrow streets until you find your hotel. This is your hotel. You’ll be greeted in a language that sounds more like Greek than Spanish.

This is the view from your hotel room window.

This is where you’ll eat grilled fish and octopus pulled from the Bay of Biscay that morning.

This is what your town looks like from above: a sea, a harbor, a small town, and vineyards. You’ll wonder why anyone would ever leave this place.

The next day, you’ll wander up the hills into the vineyards. This is what the vineyards look like. The vines will be trained taller than your head. You’ll ask what is being grown here.

“Txakolina” will be the answer.

You will fall in love with this place.

Or…

…if all the vagaries of modern life make a trip like this impossible, if jobs and kids and pets and adult responsibilities make a trip like this impossible, we can still visit these places.

That is the beauty of wine. It is a place, suspended in liquid form. It is a place we can visit in our senses as we sip. It is our astral projection. And it’s why I want to write about wines from all over the world.

This is international wine number one for Full Pull. Thanks for joining us on the journey:

Bordeaux, Burgundy, Barolo, Brunello. Yes, we’ll get to all of those. But some of the wines I find most interesting in the world are the ones where the inhabitants of the region drink most of them up, leaving little left for the export market. Txakolina from Getaria is a fine example. Yes, Getaria, and congrats to the ten list members who answered the GeoQuiz correctly.

Getaria is Basque country: not quite Spain, not quite France; its own animal. In the vineyards planted in the rolling hills above town, they grow indigenous varietals, like Hondarribi Beltza and Hondarribi Zuri. We’re a looooooooong way from Cabernet Sauvignon here.

They’ve been doing it for a long time. The Ameztoi family is into its seventh generation of winemaking. Some of the vines are more than 150 years old. Over time, the wines and local cuisine have grown up together. And so the residents drink Txakolina like water, and what they don’t drink, denizens of Barcelona and Madrid gulp down. A miniscule amount makes its way into the United States, and that’s especially true of today’s specific wine, which has developed something of a cult following among the sommelier set in New York and San Francisco.

Fortunately, a small amount comes to Seattle, and at the point last month when I set the date for this inaugural international offering, I snapped up every last bottle in town. A little risky, yes, since I have no idea how these international offerings are going to go, but the truth is: if we undersell this, I will happily drink the excess for as long as it takes. This wine is magic.

Like a lot of Txakolina, this has a bit of residual carbon dioxide, so it is semi-sparkling. Unlike a lot of Txakolina, they have blended a bit of Hondarribi Beltza (a red varietal) into the mix, giving this a delicate pink color.

So yes, our inaugural international offering is a semi-sparkling rosé from Getaria, in Basque country. Naturally.

Because Txakolina grew up with Basque cuisine, it is a terrifically versatile food wine. There is some lovely fruit (melon, green papaya, key lime), but the star of the show is minerality. This wine is a total mouthful of rocks, carried on an electric acid spine. The low alcohol (10.5%) makes this an easy session wine, and there is a salt-air quality that seems to only come from wines grown by the sea.

Rubentis has been a house wine of ours for several years now. It typically arrives in Seattle in late spring, and we drink it throughout the summer, both as cocktail and as a lovely pairing for all the Pac-NW’s seafood. It has made multiple appearances on the Thanksgiving table, where its low-alc, high-acid, food-friendly nature makes it a perfect foil for turkey et al. It has made multiple appearances on New Year’s Eve (semi-sparkling, remember?). It has made multiple appearances, I must admit, with breakfast.

It’s a wonderful wine, one of my favorites in this whole wide world; an inescapable expression of a small, very special place. I hope you love it as much as I do.

Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine is already in the warehouse and available for immediate pickup or shipping during the autumn shipping window.

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