Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tart October – Wine Pairing

Wine Pairing Flavors:
Fish fillets baked in a rich citrus herb butter seasoned with freshly squeezed lime juice, lime zest, salt and freshly chopped chives.

Want the recipe?
Here’s a link back to the Limey Chivey Buttery Fish Fillets

Want the beer pair?
Check in next Thursday for my beer pairing post.


Enjoy a little drama with your drink?  Then, you'll want to have this wine just like the locals.  Just tilt your head back and open up as wide as she goes.

For only then will you be ready for a long and slender sip of the Basque country, as it pours in a thin stream from a bulbous shaped pitcher poised high above your head.

Pressed from grapes that not long ago enjoyed views of the green slopes bordering the southern edge of the Bay of Biscay, this fiercely independent region called “El Pais Vasco,” not far from Spain's border with France, also goes its own way, when it comes to wine.

And it’s a way called Txakoli or Txakolina (pronounced CHOCK-oh-lee or CHOCK-oh-lee-nah) and is part of a wine cultural tradition that's centuries old.  Made from virtually unknown grapes that are found virtually nowhere else in Spain, it's a beverage statement of independence that's drunk by the locals all year round.

Made mostly from the pale skinned grape, Hondarribi Zuri, with just a touch of its red counterpart, Hondarribi Beltza (“zuri” is “white” and “beltza” is “black” in the Basque language, Euskera), these zesty, fresh and slightly effervescent Txakoli wines are poured from a height to add more fun by increasing their fizz.

But the exuberant spirit bottled up in these wines, once expressed itself through a prosperous fishing and whaling industry.  Begun in the Middle Ages, the Basque country was one of the first regions in the world to commercially hunt whales and for five long centuries, dominated the trade.

Then, when whaling declined at the end of the 19th century, the region suffered a second blow.  Phylloxera, the devastating grapevine disease that was ravaging the vineyards of Europe, wiped out their grapevines at about the very same time.

Slow to recover from this double blow, it wasn't until the 1960s that winemaking was able to stage a comeback, with the government encouraging vineyard replantings. 

However, the government preferred the replanting of white wine grapes, so as not to compete with the burgeoning red wine industry of Spain's Rioja.

And so here we are with this fresh and slightly fizzy white, that in 1989 was awarded its own D.O. or designation of origin ("Denominación de Origen" in Spanish).  For the D.O. “Getariako Txakolina,” that you'll find on this bottling, and on every one earning this quality guarantee, is one that controls not only the grapes and where they’re grown, but also ensures the winemaking process.

And if you look closely at the D.O.'s label, you'll discover a piece of history embedded in the logo – with a whale, tail arched up and blowing, swimming along over a grapevine motif.

And so, put your head back and open up wide, or if you prefer, just pull up a glass for here’s a taste of Talai Berri’s Txakolina:

Pale yellow and spritzy as it spills into your glass, the nose is all gooseberry and lime and crisp minerality.  And as to be expected for a wine from a small fishing village overlooking the sea, the taste is bursting with green citrus and tangy acidity, with each sip like a slap in the face of fresh ocean spray.

But, now that we’re at the sea front, who would order steak?  Especially when this crisp, fizzy white from the Basque country just screams for seafood.  So don't fight it, just give in to its briny, minerally finish and follow it with a taste of the freshest from the sea.

And the Limey Chivey Buttery Fish Fillets that I'm pairing will hit all the right notes, with a strong flavor thread of lime bouncing between wine and dish.  But it's not all citrus and ocean spray, for there's also needed contrasts, and that's where the recipe’s butter and basmati rice are ready to step in.

And so, get set for a smooth interplay between buttery richness and the basmati’s toasty, nutty flavor alternating with the brisk, fresh citric sips of Txakolina’s taste of the sea.

So, take your fish on a small vacation to the freshness of the Basque country.  But when you pop the cork on the Talai Berri, be sure to bring along some seafood, rich with butter, chives and lime.

And now, here’s a peek at the beer pairing that’s coming up next –

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