Basque Diary: Let the Fun Begin

We all arrived safely in lovely San Sebastian, Spain’s version of Miami Beach. We started with a guided tour of the city, from the stupendous vistas atop Monte Igueldo to the old town, where we ended at Juanito Kohua, an old town restaurant with a long tradition. It was a copious meal of kokotxas of hake,Jan 20/ Drumming Day foie, sautéed vegetables, fillet of hake, solomillo of beef, fried milk aka panna cotta. accompanied by the local white wine Txakoli from the producer we would be visiting the next day, as well as Viña Alberdi crianza from La Rioja Alta.

Today we left late mid-morning for the short ride to Geteria and its finest winery, Txomin Etxaniz. One of the owners, Mikel Chueca, greeted us and led us on a vineyard tour of this spectacular setting where grapevines meet the sea. There are only 29 Txakoli producers and this winery is the largest with 600,000 bottles. It’s a family run winery with 13 family members involved. Txakoli is made from 80% of the local  white Hondarrabi Zuri and 20% red Hondarrabi Beltza. There are plots of 100 year old vineyards which are blended with grapes from younger vines. We tried the Rosado and the regular Txakoli, characterized by a spritz similar to vinho verde and high acidity.

Spectacular Geteria

Spectacular Geteria

Although production of Txacoli is increasing and is more available in the States, 85% is sold in Spain so it’s still relatively rare. The vistas are as spectacular as any I’ve ever seen and so now I rank Geteria among the top 5  most picturesque wine destinations of the world.

Lunch was at the one star Michelin restaurant, Elkano, called by some one of the best fish restaurants in the world. The owners are purists and know when and where the turbot and hake come from, based on their diet and ocean location. The fish is grilled outdoor in hoppers over charcoal fire. Here was our menu: appetizers of white and red tuna; cocochas of 3 different textures of hake (merluza): grilled, fried in batter and in green sauce; baked spider crab served from its shell; charcoal grilled turbot and cheese ice cream infused with strawberries.

grilling fish at Elkano

grilling fish at Elkano

All courses were accompanied by Txakoli Txomin Etxaniz 2014, same vintage as we had at the winery, but much richer in color, aroma and taste. There were numerous theories why but I will say the version served at the restaurant had more finesse and characteristics of a world-class wine, with less acidity and effervescence from CO2.

Some of us used our free time in Geteria to visit the museum dedicated to the world famous designer Cristóbal Balenciaga who was born here.

This area of the Basque region is not wine centric and Txakoli is its only claim to fame.


You can read all about our Basque food and wine tour in the articles below:

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