2013 Ameztoi Txakolina Rubentis

Hello friends. We have the return of a list favorite today; the new vintage of the wine that kicked off our expansion into imports two summers ago:

I’m going to excerpt broadly from that original offer, because it was a blast to write. You might remember that the main update since then is that we tend to piss off a whole lot of restaurants who glass-pour Rubentis when we buy out most of the remaining stock in Seattle each summer. As a result, other folks have wised up and now stockpile their own stash. This has only increased the sales pressure on this wine each summer.

Now then, excerpts from that original offer:
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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. Including Txakolina.

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.

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, also.

Like a lot of Txakolina, this has a bit of absorbed CO2, 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. Because Txakolina grew up with Basque cuisine, it is a terrifically versatile food wine.

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 a cocktail and as a lovely pairing for all the PacNW’s seafood. It has made multiple appearances on the Thanksgiving table, where its low-alc (11% this year), 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 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.
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Not much has changed since last year, except for a new vintage, with new tasting notes. It begins with a lovely, fresh, summery nose of melon (flesh and rind), rose petal, and briny sea breeze. In many ways, it is a return to a vintage like 2011 after a bit of a fuller version in 2012. Totally electric in the mouth, this just pulsates across the palate on a wave of citric-mineral goodness. As usual, the austere fruit serves as the grace note here; the main event is salt air, chalky mineral, rippin’ acid, light spritz.

The template in our house is to go through 6 bottles in summer, another 3 in autumn (2 on the Thanksgiving table), and the final 3 for the holidays. If any of my personal-stash bottles survive into 2015, I see no way to consider myself anything other than an abject failure. Please limit order requests to 12 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in about a week, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.

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