Have you tried a Hondarrabi Zuri from the Basque region of Txaholi? If you did, would you know it?
We have been trained to pronounce grape varieties from France, Spain, and Italy, so when a varietal comes along from a region whose alphabet and/or spelling is radically different from Cabernet, Sangiovese, or even Agilanico, we naturally tend to glaze over and zone out.
Understandable, but a shame. But we’re beginning to get used to Greek grape names, and perhaps sometime soon, we’ll get used to Hondarrabi Zuri (just remember “Honda rabbi,” and you’re halfway there). And the Basque region of Txaholi is pronounced: “chock-oh-lee.” Okay, so we have a start.
And, without any hype, these wines from Txaholi or (Txaholina) are usually well-made and delicious. We have four of them today. We also have a batch of burly Shirazes from Australia as counter-points.
Ready, set, guzzle!
2020 La Miranda de Secastilla Somantano Garnacha Blanca ($17). Spritzy, fruity with a pleasant Riesling-like oiliness and some tannins – a juicy wine.
2020 Gorka Izagirre Bzikaiko Tzakolina White Wine ($18). Lovely mouthfeel, with lemony tart – but not too tart – flavors and a toss of creaminess. Nice for the price.
2021 Pazo de Lusco Rias Baixas Albariño Sobre Lias ($21). Very good fruitiness with flavors of fresh grapes, plums, and a little kiwi, fruity but not sweet – a nice, all-purpose wine for lunch.
2020 Gorka Izagirre “G22” Bzikaiko Txakolina Zerratia ($24). Broader in texture than those above and below, with some notes of cereal grains but mainly tasting of citrus fruits.
2019 Gorka Izagirre Bzikaiko Txakolina Zuri ($35). Very enjoyable – lightly fragrant aromas with minerally, piquant flavors of orange and orange peel with a moderate body and a pleasant flavor lift, and light tannins in the finish.
2019 Gorka Izagirre “Ama” Bzikaiko Txakolina Zerratia ($49). It tasted a bit funky when I opened it, but quite nice when I returned to it later – so let it air or decant it. It has a distinctive profile that leans toward green fruit but is quite minerally – think of it as the green equivalent of Riesling, and you’re almost there. Anyway, it tastes distinctive and great. It also reminds me of Champagne without the bubbles.
2020 Two Hands “Angel’s Share” McLaren Vale Shiraz ($29). Lots of upfront black raspberry fruit, almost creamy, but with an earthy, crisp finish and raspy tannins.
2020 Two Hands “Gnarly Dudes” Barossa Valley Shiraz ($31). Beautiful fresh, lightly creamy raspberry fruit followed by a tangy, tannic finish. (Tangy fruit is a trademark of winemaker Michael Twelftree.)
Two Hands “Bella’s Garden” Barossa Valley Shiraz ($67). Very rich black raspberry flavors with hints of cedar and juniper and a lean, very tangy finish.
2018 Two Hands “Lily’s Garden” McLaren Vale Shiraz ($67). A wine for bloody meat – blackberry flavors with some savory elements and a quite tart finish.
2020 Two Hands “Coach House Block” Barossa Valley Shiraz ($119). It has the signature ripe fruit-tangy finish profile, but it is a smoother, Bordeaux-like red with some chocolate thrown in along with savory notes and well-integrated tannins.
2020 Two Hands “Yacca Block” Eden Valley Shiraz ($131). Very enjoyable and complex – rich, red currant, and light cherry flavors with a savory, earthy undertone, a touch of petrol, and old-time barrel flavors.
Prices listed are generally SRP or from wine-searcher.com. As more wineries are now shipping direct-to-consumer, check the winery website if you can’t find a bottle in your retail store.
The feature photo is of a Basque vineyard.