I was doing a special wine tasting at my local shop, The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan, and I was meeting an Instagram wine blogger for the first time. I suggested this wine shop as she was looking for some unique vintages and wines. The second wine that we tasted was very distinct in label design and label information. The other blogger thought this was a wine from Greece, because of having an X in each word. From another hobby of mine, I recognized both the wording and the art as being from the Basque region of Spain, where they still maintain their independence and their traditional language. Beyond that, my knowledge went downhill, but I have to tell you, that from the first sip, I knew that I had to get a couple of bottles of this wine for my Bride to taste. I thought that the wine was “Xarmant” and the grape was “Txakoli” and I was wrong on both counts, and thankfully I don’t shoot from the hip, when I am writing these wine adventures.
I had already fallen in love with Artomana Txakolina “Xarmant” Txakoli, Arabako Txakolina, Spain 2020. I was partly redeemed as Xarmant is the brand label. Artomana Txakolina, S.L. began in 1988, when the Association of Artisan Producers of Txakoli from Alava (Arabako Txakolina) was founded with the desire to return a wine tradition to this region. It started with six hectares of hand planting and the vineyard is now up to twenty hectares. This is now a three-generation family project, now using modern technology to create a wine that they wish to have worldwide distribution. Arabako Txakolina is a DO wine zone, which was conferred in 2001. Txakoli is a Basque word meaning “wine from the village” and Arabako is the Basque name for the village of Alava. “Xarmant” means “charming and delicate.” The region was devastated by phylloxera in the late 1800’s and basically laid dormant until the 1980’s. The majority of the wines from this region are white made from the Hondarrabi Zuri varietal and also from Petit Courbu. Hondarrabi is named after the local village and Zuri in Basque means white, and the grape is indigenous to the region and the perfect local pairing for the local cuisine of seafood and hot peppers. Petit Courbu another white varietal was originally found in the Gascon region of France.
Artomana Txakolina “Xarmant” Txakoli 2020 is a blend of eighty percent Hondarrabi Zuri and twenty percent Petit Courbu. The wine undergoes cold fermentation and maceration and the juice is left on the lees for a couple of months. The quick aging allows the wine to offer natural flavors and the wine is actually bottle with the lees, which gives the wine a bit of natural residual carbon dioxide with a lightly sparkling finish similar to a Vinho Verde. A pale-yellow wine with green tinges, has notes of citrus, florals and cut grass. On the palate soft flavors of peach and green apple, a bright acidity (that calls for an immediate second sip), balanced with a nice finish of minerals (terroir). When I got home with the two bottles, they disappeared on the second night, each bottle barely making it through a dinner. It was requested that I get some more, and there were only five bottles left, and I was told that they didn’t expect such a quick demand for this wine, so I asked if they could get some more. When the shop called, I asked if they could hold us a case and I would be there the next day. A new legend and another new go-to wine for our household.