If You Think the Grape has a Weird Name, Wait Till You See the Wine

Posted December 03, 2014

Terry Southard


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It feels like it could have been just yesterday. I sat down to a festive Spanish tapas dinner in a New York City restaurant, armed and ready to party with wine list in hand. I was in a white wine mood. First up on the menu: Hondarrabi Zuri. I paused. “Wait, what?” I remember thinking to myself. “What the hell is that?” Thankfully, the sommelier was cool enough to let me taste it first; I was very pleased. Palate drenching, full of character and bracingly refreshing. Sold.

I later came to learn that Hondarrabi Zuri is the principal white grape varietal in one of the most exciting white wines to come out of Spain in years. Produced in the northeastern Basque Country region of Spain, the equally hard-to-pronounce wine Txakolina has been made using Hondarrabi Zuri grapes for years, and experienced a resurgence during the 1980's. While most Americans are only just starting to discover this old school, historic white wine, it’s a regular at nearly every restaurant throughout Spain, and drunk year round. While it is a little tough to find, the better restaurants and wine stores (hint, hint) are likely to have at least one or two producers of this magical white wine, despite the fact that less than 15% of it is actually exported out of the region.

The beauty of this wine is in its subtleties. It’s a remarkable juice that captures and delivers in liquid form the Atlantic Ocean’s influence on a historic area of Spain, revered for its fiercely independent spirit.  Stylistically, the wine can be slightly frizzante, or as still as a January lake. Whatever form, it is a bright, pure wine that you’ll definitely want to check out.  Cheers!


Terry Southard has spent close to 30 years in the customer service and retail fields. When not enjoying great wine or food, he stays active in his local church. He is also an avid hiker, voracious reader of anything on the American Revolution, and a diehard follower of the Fab Four.