Hello friends. We have the return of a list favorite today; the new vintage of the wine that kicked off our expansion into imports five summers ago:
2016 Ameztoi Txakolina Rubentis
I’m going to excerpt broadly from that original offer, because it was a blast to write, and I know of at least three list members who have made pilgrimages to Getaria in part because of this write-up. One thing that has changed this year: unlike in previous years, where Rubentis would arrive in three separate shipments, and we would have total dibs on one of the three, this year the entire Seattle allocation dropped in one fell swoop. Cue feeding frenzy.
There are a whole lot of restaurants who like to glass-pour Rubentis, and I’m certain they’ll be looking to stockpile their own stash ASAP. That’s why we’re offering Rubentis in April, as opposed to June like normal. I’m concerned about the sales pressure on this wine, and I want to make sure the Rubentis-lovers among our list (myself included!) sneak in and grab our share.
Now then, excerpts from that original offer:
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.
…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 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 (10.5% 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.
Not much has changed since last year, but I should note that Josh Raynolds has been consistently reviewing Rubentis, first for Tanzer’s IWC, and then for Vinous after Galloni purchased IWC. The wine now has an unbroken seven-vintage streak of 91 and 92pt reviews, stretching from 2009 to 2015. Since Raynolds’ review always comes out after our offer, since his reviews are so insightful, and since this wine is so damned consistent, I’m going to do something I rarely do, which is quote a review from the previous vintage, here the 92pt 2015 vintage: Brilliant orange-pink. Incisive aromas of fresh red berries and tangerine pick up suave floral and mineral accents in the glass. Spicy, penetrating and nervy in character, offering powerful bitter cherry, red currant and orange zest flavors that stain the palate. Shows impressive flavor intensity but comes off weightless and lithe, showing excellent finishing focus and floral-tinged persistence. Given how dangerously easy this wine is to drink (the 10.5% alcohol is a factor, no doubt), I could imagine knocking back a magnum with ease and in no time flat.
The 2016 is very much in keeping with that recent history. Listed alc is again 10.5%, and this kicks off with a core of strawberry and grapefruit and tangerine fruit, all dusted with salt air. As usual, this just smells like a wine grown by the sea. The palate sees spritzy goodness carrying plump berry and citrus fruit, all lifted by a sturdy acid-mineral spine. This wine just seems to pulsate with verve and energy. Rubentis: it’s a house favorite, a Team Full Pull favorite, a list member favorite. What could be better?
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 personal-stash bottles survive into 2018, I will count it as an abject failure. Please limit order requests to 18 bottles, and we’ll do our best to fulfill all requests. The wine should arrive in a week or two, at which point it will be ready for pickup or shipping during the next temperature-appropriate shipping window.