Josu Egoitz Zubiaur
When I first contacted Egoitz Zubiaur last fall to request an appointment he responded quickly. "Yes, please come. My English no good. You want meat or fish for lunch?"
Such is life in Basque country, Spain's foot of the Pyrenees near the Atlantic. This was my first visit to this wonderful region, and won't be the last. It's beautiful, sure. But it's people like Jesu and Egoitz Zubiaur, that make it real.
I was in this part of Spain searching for Txakoli (Chock-oh-lee), the low alcohol, thirst-quenching, slightly
When I first explained to Jesu and Egoitz that I had visited a few wineries earlier that day that made the
There are lots of places to read about the history of Txakoli as well as other Basque beverages and food so I won't bore you today with historical stuff. The Zubiaur's are fourth generation farmers and winemakers but they only began bottling their own wine in 2007, preferring to either sell in
So, back to meat and fish. I requested fish and when I arrived Egoitz was cooking fresh cod in a terra cotta pot over the stove, a traditional Basque recipe to accompany the Txakoli. It was simple and perfect and the wine did the trick. I asked on the spot if I could purchase some wine (sometimes you just know right away!) and we agreed to move ahead. Egoitz had never exported before, selling all is wine in Bilbao, (and was nervous about it) but we seemed to hit it off and agreed to go for it.
The Garate Txakoli is a bracing but rich wine that makes me think one part Muscadet, one part Albariño, and one part Sancerre. It's a complete white wine.
But then, Egoitz father, almost apologetically, pulls out a bottle of pink wine and tells me, "you need to taste this too. We serve it only for friends."
Sometimes there's just not much to say, and over the next 30
Egoitz' great-grandfather planted red grapes, a local variety called Hondarribi Beltza, on their farm in 1910 because he was sick of drinking Rioja, the nearest, and typically unreliable,
They drink this wine at home, share it with customers at their small winery, or sell a few to bar and tavern owners in Bilbao that buy their white. That's all folks.
So about a month ago I finally got the note from Egoitz that the white would be bottled soon and ready for me to order and ship. Included in the note was this: "My father wants you to have some of the Ojo de Gallo (the Rosato wine) to sell to your customers and tell its story. We've put aside 20 cases for you."
That's 20 cases of only 80 produced. Woah.