En primeur: fable and fortune

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Ch. Margaux. Photograph: Jason Lowe

As the Bordeaux 2016 en primeur campaign draws to a close, our Wine Director Mark Pardoe MW explains how we came to buy unfinished wine, and examines the mechanics, myths and future of wine futures

The first Bordeaux vintage I bought en primeur as a wine merchant was 1982. I only bought two wines – 25 cases each of Chx Batailley and Haut-Batailley – and I only did so because a Bordeaux négociant whom I didn’t know that well strongly suggested that I should. But, if I’m honest, I didn’t really understand the process at the time. I just knew the wines were very good.

That my first en primeur purchase was 1982 provides an interesting marker. This is the vintage when the whole process came into broader understanding and acceptance, powered by an alignment of an exceptional vintage, burgeoning growth in the western economies and the creation of a new way of explaining wine, with the arrival of Robert Parker, The Wine Advocate and his 100-point scoring system.

Origin and evolution

En primeur existed before 1982, of course, but only as a function of market conditions. Years of high demand were usually made available to the Bordeaux trade at advantageous prices as a way of generating cash flow for the châteaux. The trade, in turn, would seek to gain a position at the earliest opportunity, even to the extent of committing to the eventual wine before it had been made and was merely grapes on the vine, “sur souche”. Such trading was not uncommon during the early 1970s – that is until the Bordeaux crash of 1973, triggered by the oil and energy crisis of that year.

Before the 1982 campaign, very little Bordeaux was bought en primeur by private clients. But the economic timing of the vintage, its combination of quality and quantity, the strength of the dollar and wine’s democratisation by Robert Parker began a new chapter. Parker’s 100-point system cut straight to the message and it was one that everyone could understand: the higher the score, the better the wine and the more desirable it became. No longer was there any need to understand context (although Parker did offer his stylised notes on most wines if more information was required). For the new Asian markets – increasingly affluent, interested in the prestige which wine could bring and without English as a first language – the 100-point system was the key to knowing what to buy.

A vineyard-worker at Ch. Ducru-Beaucaillou carries a bundle of vine-cuttings post-pruning in March. Photograph: Jason Lowe

With this catalyst and a succession of good or great vintages in the 1980s, regular demand combined with rising prices and created big profits for the best châteaux. The 1970s had been hard; after the 1973 crash, only 1975 and 1978 produced anything approaching interesting quality. Many great names had been struggling and some properties changed hands quite cheaply, but the 1980s changed all that.

By the 1990s, the châteaux were strong enough to withstand the problems of 1991, 1992, 1993 and, to an extent, 1994 – a succession of challenging vintages which could have been terminal in the 1970s. The brutal late frosts in 1991 killed 50 percent of the crop although, famously, Ch. Pétrus saved 70 percent of its crop by employing a helicopter to hover over the vineyard, thus dispersing the freezing air; but even that luxury was only appropriate for a small vineyard like Pétrus. The investments which had been made, especially in the cellars, allowed much better wine to be made, even if there was much less of it in years where a lot of fruit had to be discarded or downgraded.  Alfred Tesseron says that 1994 is the vintage in which Ch. Pontet-Canet turned the corner, after years of investment and commitment. Indeed, it could be argued that those four vintages changed a lot of perspectives in Bordeaux and that the model we know now emerged from that time. The introduction of second and even third wines bolstered this process. It led to a consistency of quality and a growing confidence in each château’s reputation. Success in 1995, 1996 and especially 2000 left Bordeaux on the crest of a wave, supported by escalating prices, and they consolidated their position.

Through the 2000s, the big guns were starting to see themselves as global luxury brands, and today some châteaux find themselves in the same portfolio as designer handbags. No expense was spared to maximise the quality of the wine, to the extent now that almost every grape is individually counselled. In 2001 I was running my own business and found that I was offering First Growths from 2000 at £2,000 per dozen. This was uncharted territory, yet the wines sold, even if I was uncertain.  Yet when Ch. Latour released the last of its 2000 stock in April last year, it sold readily at £8,000.  Proof, if it were needed, that buying en primeur is a long game.

This grip on the eventual wine’s quality allows prices to be maintained at a high level and today hardly any indifferent wine is produced. In difficult years, production is naturally low through both nature’s and the château’s intervention. In bountiful years, production of the top wines is limited by selection of just the best fruit, with the rest reclassified. Only in great years do we sometimes find quality and quantity. Great years and small volumes drive up prices and older vintages realign their prices. The financial strength of the most famous châteaux allows them to manage supply to the market, having the luxury of only releasing what is strategically necessary.

Looking south over the rooftops of picturesque St Emilion. Photograph: Jason Lowe

Looking ahead

With three decades of success under their belts, is there now any purpose to the top châteaux continuing to participate in the annual en primeur bun fight? Indeed, is there still any residual connection to its original purpose: to offer wine at advantageous prices in return for an early commitment and payment?

The first question is easily answered. The value of a time when the eyes of the world’s wine-lovers are all on Bordeaux, in a way that no other wine category can manage, is without price. And Bordeaux’s sheer size, its organisation and  resources, including the city itself, are capable of accommodating the huge numbers which arrive in the spring after each vintage, a murmuration of merchants, journalists and buyers for vintages with an early high reputation.

There has been the occasional tremor, such as when, in 2012, Ch. Latour announced that it was withdrawing from the en primeur process, to cellar its wines itself until it felt they were ready for release. But no one else of that scale has yet followed suit, although most big names now release less wine for the en primeur campaigns than hitherto.

The second question is more complex. If you buy en primeur, you are now either a collector or an investor. The price of the First Growths is now beyond the pocket of the average drinker. But, whichever hat you are wearing, you will want to know that, by buying early, you will not lose out.

In truth, some colds were caught in the heady days of the 1990s. The 1997 vintage was hugely overpriced on release, in relation to its quality and the amount of wine made. If you were looking to turn a profit in five years you would have lost out, but the anomaly of wine as a commodity is that each vintage is a finite and diminishing asset, with less available as bottles are opened by drinkers, to the advantage of the investors. Only a decade after the 1997 en primeur campaign, so little was still on the market that the price was, in most cases, sufficiently above its original opening price.

The power that the strongest brands now have over managing their supply to market, and positioning prices, means that every time we have a spike in demand for a collectible vintage, the prices for the earlier years still on the market realign behind it. So the investor will win, eventually, but on an unpredictable cycle. The drinker will win by the time the wine is mature.

Ch. Lafite Rothschild. Photograph: Jason Lowe

Chx Lafite, Margaux, Latour, Pétrus, Cheval Blanc et al are now true international brands, and all have teams dedicated to re-enforcing that position. The parochial purposes of en primeur back in the 1980s don’t exist anymore. The heady days of money-making in the 1990s, and even as late as the 2010 vintage, are probably gone, but I don’t think that’s why the en primeur process still grabs the imagination.

Great vintages usually come along two or three times a decade and surprisingly often in pairs (1989/90, 1995/96, 2009/10 and, dare I say it, 2015/16). The years in between can be a little fallow although the comet tail of interest after a great campaign usually sustains the next vintage; but when a great year arrives, new converts and seasoned players all come to the game. Bordeaux en primeur in a great vintage is irresistible.

Yet the identification of the great years is an imprecise science. The wines are first prepared for tasting in the spring following the vintage. At this stage the wines are very raw and special assemblages have to be made to give a best impression of how the finished wines will taste. For some, this means that they will not show at their best. For a number of years I had the benefit of visiting Bordeaux each June, after the hullabaloo of the en primeur tastings had finished. Even after an extra couple of months, the wines always showed more flesh and integration. I mentioned this once to Charles Chevallier, the doyen of Ch. Lafite, itself a wine that to me always seemed a bit muted at en primeur time. Charles raised his bushy eyebrows half-way up his forehead. His view was that it is impossible to judge a wine accurately so soon after vintage, yet commentators are applying definitive judgements. He was frustrated but played the game because he had to. If I was to recommend a change, it would be to postpone the formal release tastings until after the second winter. Burgundy can manage it, after all.

As I write this, Emmanuel Macron is an aspiring candidate to be the next President of France. By the time you read this, he may have achieved his goal. Along the way, and appropriately for a philosophy graduate, he has already shown commendable perspective on the politics of today, which he calls an amalgam of style and mysticism. I rather like that, and I think it applies to Bordeaux en primeur as well.

Style? Without doubt. Mysticism? Why not? Why else would people regularly spend thousands of pounds for cases of fermented grape juice? Wine and its associations must speak to something deeper. Bordeaux en primeur isn’t going away; it perpetuates and fulfils both a need and a dream. But its leaders will continue to get smarter at playing the game, and the game is making money. Bordeaux en primeur now runs more for the benefit of the big players and yet, when the next great vintage comes along, the buyers will be queueing up.

Mark’s favourite Bordeaux vintages

1982: My first proper introduction to Bordeaux and the region’s transitional vintage. There was a superb summer and the vintage is now a little rustic compared to more recent years, but has a place in my heart.

1985: First commentaries questioned its longevity because of its accessibility, but in the end these lasted well and never failed to charm, and some are still doing so.

1995: Immediately delicious after the paucities of 1991 to 1994. It was very fine on the Right Bank and Graves, with many rewarding wines in the Médoc.

1998: Another fine Right Bank year, but the Left Bank was underestimated at en primeur. Seemingly pinched wines became more architectural with time, if unfashionably fresh.

2000: Overhyped as a great year, which it mostly isn’t, but every bottle is a sunny treat.

2004: A slowly unfurling vintage. Never lush, but a cerebral year, multi-faceted in a retro way (which means cool fruit, buttressed by evident tannin and acidity).

2005: Normally I favour the underdogs, but this year’s remarkable tension between ripeness and freshness makes it unique. A once-in-a-lifetime vintage.

2008: Echoes of 1998 and 2004 here. Never a showy vintage but it has grace and complexity. It might have been a failure 25 years earlier, showing how far Bordeaux has come.

2010: Like 2005 but with knobs on: denser and more powerful but still dexterous. A twice-in-a-lifetime vintage.

2012: A funny little runty vintage, unloved at en primeur, but compact and precise, especially where the producer was prepared to make sacrifices. Many pleasant surprises.

Browse our range of Bordeaux on bbr.com, including the 2016 vintage en primeur.

Category: Bordeaux Wine

Let’s talk Tempranillo

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Tempranillo vines at Cillar de Silos, Ribera del Duero. Photograph: Jason Lowe

Best known for producing the wines of Rioja, Tempranillo is a grape with many faces. Here Buyer Catriona Felstead MW talks through the varied styles it produces in Spain and further afield

Glorious Tempranillo is Spain’s flagship grape variety. In its traditional heartland, it is revered for its contribution to rich, deep Riojas; structured and thought-provoking wines from Ribera del Duero; sturdy examples from Toro; and even, just over the border, to the complex blend of Port.

The grape takes its name from the Spanish word “temprano, meaning “early”, a reference to the fact that it ripens significantly earlier than other local varieties (a literal translation of “Tempranillo” would be “early little one”). At full ripeness and in warm conditions such as those in Ribera del Duero and, at its most extreme, in Toro, it can develop thick skins and produce powerful, dark-fruited and long-lived wines. In more marginal climates however – such as that of its most famous home, Rioja – its skins are thinner, its colour inherently lighter and the wines are more delicate, tasting of strawberries, tea and tobacco leaves, often with a savoury edge.

Tempranillo appears in Spanish wines by many names and in many different guises. In the case of Rioja and Navarra, Tempranillo forms the dominant part (normally around 70 percent) of a blend, supported by Garnacha (Grenache) to add body, Graciano for acidity and Mazuelo (Carignan) which imbues a sweet, red-fruited generosity to the palate. Here, producers such as Finca Allende and Bodegas Palacios Remondo craft elegant, bold, fruit-forward, “modern” Riojas. Others, such as Bodegas R. López de Heredia and La Rioja Alta, age their wines for many years, transforming them into an ethereal liquid brimming with notes of macerated strawberries, herbs and tobacco. In Rioja, the house style of each bodega is hugely important in defining the taste of the wine.

Moving just an hour south to Ribera del Duero, the grape is commonly referred to as Tinto Fino. Here, the wines are generally not blended and the variety is allowed to express itself in its pure form. Full-bodied yet velvety wines can ensue with a richness and structure that makes them incredibly long-lived. Apart from a tiny proportion of un-spoken field-blending with local white variety Albillo, one of the few bodegas to actually blend Tinto Fino here is the superb Bodegas Vega Sicilia. Vega’s wonderful, iconic wine, Único, includes five to six percent Cabernet Sauvignon, depending on the vintage.

In Toro, just an hour further west, the variety’s name changes again to Tinta de Toro. Here, Tempranillo comes across in its most sturdy, masculine of forms, making full-bodied, structured wines with plentiful tannins. Bodegas such as Pintia, part of the Vega Sicilia stable, are working hard to reduce the potentially rough character of the tannins, taming them to produce complex yet more elegant wines.

North, in Catalonia, Ull de Llebre (as Tempranillo is called here) is blended with Southern French varieties: Garnacha, again, and Monastrell (Mourvèdre) which lends body and depth to the wines. These can be elegant with a more chiselled edge from the cool, sea breezes that run through the vineyards; Empordà is one of the quality regions of particular note here.

Finca Allende, Rioja. Photograph: Jason Lowe

Tempranillo is widely grown elsewhere in Spain, most notably in La Mancha. Here, as Cencibel, it produces simple, fruity, inexpensive wines, some of which are bright and fruit-forward, whilst others are deliberately aged in an accelerated fashion to mimic traditional-style Rioja with savoury, leather notes.

It is impossible to talk about Tempranillo without referring to the quality hierarchy of Spanish wines where each level directly correlates to how long the wine has been aged in oak and then in barrel ie the Jóven, Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva levels. These categories inform the styles of many Spanish wines made from Tempranillo – going from the unoaked Jóven wines which are bright and fruit-forward, to Gran Reservas that are aged for a minimum of five years before their release on to the market. A number of bodegas mature their wines for a lot longer than the minimum terms stated by law – the current release of Bodegas R. López de Heredia’s Tondonia Tinto Reserva is the 2004 vintage, for example, with the current vintage of their Gran Reserva being (astonishingly) 1995. Whilst its wines can be delicious drunk young, Tempranillo, as demonstrated by the Tondonia wines, is a variety capable of long aging. Good quality wines from Rioja and Ribera del Duero are worthy additions to any cellar, lasting for decades at the top level.

The quality hierachy system is not without controversy, as some producers attempt to turn the conversation back to their terroir rather than the time the wines have spent in oak. Telmo Rodríguez’s ethereal and incredibly rare top single-vineyard Rioja, Las Beatas, is a case in point, offering an incredibly pure expression of site. Furthermore, in December 2015, Artadi sailed into unchartered territory by leaving the umbrella body of the Consejo Regulador of the DOCa Rioja (the control board for all Rioja wine). Owner and winemaker Juan Carlos López de Lacalle’s aim was to focus on the specific site characteristics of his incredible wines without having to confuse their message with an enforced degree of oak ageing.

Tempranillo is, of course, planted elsewhere in the world but in far smaller volumes than Spain. In the New World, Australia is the country taking the most interest in the grape as innovative winemakers have discovered that Iberian varieties are actually incredibly well-suited to their Mediterranean-style coastal climate. Crittenden’s Homenaje blend and David Mazza’s more aged Tempranillo are both testament to just how well the grape can adapt to the other side of the world. There are plantings in South America and elsewhere, but it is fair to say that Spain completely dominates this grape’s representation on the world wine stage.

Tempranillo is one of the world’s great grape varieties, responsible for simple, fruity styles as well as for wines of great depth and complexity. There is always something comforting and rewarding about sinking into a glass of one of its finest incarnations. No matter where it is grown, this variety can make world-renowned wines – which always manage to feel demonstrably Spanish.

Find out more about Tempranillo, and browse a range of wines made with the variety, on bbr.com.

Category: Spanish Wine

Seasonal sensations: asparagus

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Photograph: Jason Lowe

In the heart of asparagus season, our Head Chef serves up Britain’s best spears with a quick and easy tart

British asparagus is a true vegetable hero: the season starts in mid-April and if we are lucky it will last until the end of June. It must be one of, if not our greatest seasonal product and I just can’t get enough. In terms of flavour, colour and overall look, British asparagus has no equal.

Asparagus deteriorates relatively quickly after picking, which is why freshly picked British asparagus is to jet-lagged, imported asparagus what dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant is to eating a TV dinner.

Asparagus is so versatile you could eat it a different way every day of the season. Grilled, steamed, roasted or shaved, there are absolutely hundreds of asparagus recipes.

This is a Turner household favourite and one that was first cooked for me by my daughter’s godmother Jessica, who – I must say – is a fantastic cook. An asparagus tart, originally made with puff pastry, Boursin and asparagus, I like to think I have enhanced it a bit over the years. The following recipe was served as a middle course at our recent asparagus dinner, a six-course homage to this spectacular vegetable. It works fantastically well as a starter or light supper, or even as an accompaniment to meat or fish dishes.

Asparagus tartServes 6
  • 500g rolled puff pastry sheets
  • 150g cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch chives – finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic – finely chopped
  • 3 bunches of asparagus spears
  • 25g Parmesan – grated
  • A handful of pea shoots

For the pea salsa:

  • 100g podded peas
  • 1 banana shallot – finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli – deseeded and finely chopped
  • 30ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1tbsp parsley – chopped
  • 1tsp mint – chopped

Preheat the oven to 200⁰C. Trim the asparagus. Cut the puff pastry sheet into two rectangles, approximately 30cm by 15cm, so there is a 1cm either side of the asparagus. Roll or turn in the edges of the pastry to create a border, and place on greaseproof paper on a baking tray.

Beat together the cream cheese, egg, lemon zest, chives and garlic. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and spread over the pastry. Top and tail the asparagus over the cream cheese mix to completely cover, then sprinkle with the Parmesan. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the pastry is golden.

While the tart is baking, make the pea salsa. Sweat the shallot in a good glug of olive oil, until soft but not coloured. Cook the peas in boiling salted water until just cooked, then refresh in iced water. In a bowl, mix the peas, shallot, chilli and herbs, pour in the olive oil and season to taste. Just before serving, add the lemon juice.

Once the tart is cooked portion each one into three and scatter over the pea salsa. Finish with some pea shoots and serve.

Category: Food & Wine

Tracking Txakoli

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As a new bottle from the Basque country lands on our list, Buyer Will Heslop recounts a trip to the region, combining a dose of Bilbao’s best pintxos with a short detour to Bodega Gorosti, the source of our first Txakoli

We met at Gatwick at 6.30am. As my companions – my girlfriend Laurie and buddy Adam – tucked into the customary pint at ‘spoons, I sipped a flat white and laid out the plan. We would land in Bilbao around 10.45, leap in a hire car and head for Mundaka, where they would enjoy a long lunch on the terrace of Bar Txopos, overlooking the ocean, before returning to Bilbao by train. Meanwhile, I’d drive in the opposite direction, towards San Sebastian, to check out a potential Txakoli supplier, Bodega Gorosti. That evening, we would reassemble at the Airbnb in Bilbao’s Casco Viejo, then hit the town. The next day, Saturday, would involve a visit to the Guggenheim, an even longer lunch, then a flight home in the early evening.

Having been tasked with finding a Txakoli for the Berry Bros. & Rudd range, my colleague Cat and I had requested samples from numerous producers. From the first bench tasting, Gorosti’s Txakoli – named Flysch after the distinctive sedimentary rock formation found at the coastline, a stone’s throw from the bodega – comfortably outperformed the opposition, but we’d have to await the ’16 vintage before placing an order. Although this was not a work trip (hence the pre-flight lager), I couldn’t resist the opportunity to visit the bodega, to learn about the place and the people behind the wine. So while Laurie and Adam drained their glasses of San Miguel, my mind was on a different, but equally refreshing Spanish beverage: Txakoli.

I hesitate over the word Spanish because Txakoli is Basque. The x gives it away, although the word “Txakoli” is, in fact, a hybrid of the Castilian Chacolí and Basque equivalent Txakolina. Nowhere else can it be produced, and nowhere does it make more sense than the pintxo bars and Michelin-starred restaurants of the Basque country. It’s a spritzy, citric, bone-dry white, with a saline tang; a cousin of those other great Atlantic wines, Muscadet and Vinho Verde. Like Muscadet, the best Txakolis tend to spend a little time – perhaps six months – on their lees. To paraphrase Hugh Johnson (writing about Muscadet), Txakoli is as natural an accompaniment to fried fish as a squeeze of lemon.

The flight and collection of the car were effortless, the great advantage of travelling in January to a region notorious for dodgy weather. Yet the sky was blue and temperature balmy as we pressed on to Mundaka, famous for a 10-metre wave which funnels down the estuary, past the town. It’s an iconic spot for surfing, apparently, but on the day we visited the water was as untroubled as the sky. We strolled to a beautiful church on a promontory beside the town, then through narrow streets to Bar Txopos, where I deposited Laurie and Adam. No frills, but what a view: a panorama taking in the church, small harbour and steep cliffs away to the east. I paused for a slice of tortilla, then said hasta pronto.

I drove for an hour along winding roads over improbably high hills, in and out of sight of the ocean, to a tiny hamlet, whose sole residents appeared to be a motley pack of dogs, untethered but amiable. Sat Nav announced that I had arrived: this was Elorriaga, home to Bodega Gorosti.

Just as disconcerting as the absence of people was the fact I hadn’t seen a single vine. I parked and followed the sound of voices through the hamlet to an open field, where a group of women were preparing food and decorations for the Día de San Sebastián, a significant fiesta in these parts. Yes, I was told, you’re in the right place – the bodega is at the bottom of that hill. Back in the car, I rolled tentatively down a vertiginous path, fearing the charming but underpowered Seat might not make it back up. The path lead to an unprepossessing farm building, behind which, cascading down the sun-kissed slope, was perhaps the most picturesque vineyard I’ve ever seen, with vines trained head-height, pergola fashion.

I was greeted by Isabel, one of three siblings who own Gorosti. As I admired the vineyard, which faces due south, on a hill whose opposite flank descends gently to the coast, Isabel told me of the winery’s exacting methods – including hand harvesting with three successive tris  – and its history. Gorosti began bottling Flysch only in 2011, but Isabel’s family has owned this vineyard for generations.

Isabel invited me inside, first to taste Flysch ‘16 straight from the tank. The merest tweak of the tap released a fierce jet of liquid, whose miniscule bubbles continued to jostle in the glass as I lifted it to my nose to breath deep the aromas of lemon, elderflower and – unmistakeably – sea air. So far, so impressive, but Flysch truly comes alive on the palate; rendered kinetic by its residual CO2, linear and purposeful by its mouth-watering acidity. In the wake of this electrifying combination unfolds a surprising level of complexity, with a beguiling oyster-shell character to the fore.

Isabel then showed me the ‘15, its spritz marginally more sedate though still exhilarating. She insisted I try it with dark chocolate, a combination that has no right to work but emphatically does – the bitterness of the two in perfect alignment.

Isabel would send samples of the ’16 as soon as it was bottled. Would it continue to prove so appealing in the cold light of day, when tasted and re-tasted (by no fewer than four MWs) in our clinical tasting room in Basingstoke, a million miles from its natural habitat? You bet it would.

Back in Bilbao, the evening unfolded just as I’d hoped. My colleague Andrew Higgs, an honorary Bilbaíno, had provided me with an extensive list of watering holes. Most were so crowded we could barely squeeze inside but – thanks to the preternatural skill of the bartenders – we were rarely without a drink or pintxo. The pick of the bars was El Globo and La Viña del Ensanche, both on Calle Diputación and, in the Plaza Nueva, Gure Toki and El Rio-Oja.

The boisterous El Globo and avant-garde Gure Toke play host to a younger crowd, while La Viña del Ensanche – the best of the bunch for wines by the glass – and El Rio-Oja are more traditional. The standout dishes were a ración of fried calamari at El Rio-Oja and, at Gure Toke, patatas bravas topped with a fried goose egg. Both washed down with Txakoli, naturally.

The next morning, our spirits high but energy flagging, we set off for the Guggenheim, whose bistro would prove the ideal venue for our long lunch following a fabulous couple of hours among the exhibits. Before entering the gallery, we paused on the terrace (beneath the gaze of Jeff Koon’s Puppy) for a restorative coffee. Noticing, however, the bottle of ice cold Txakoli glistening on a neighbouring table, we decided in unison to amend our order: tres cafés con leche… ¡y tres txakolis por favor!

Many of the best Txakolis never leave the Basque country, such is demand locally for a refreshing white to accompany all those fabulous, fishy pintxos. But in Flysch, we reckon we’ve found a real beauty. We wanted a Txakoli made from 100 percent Hondarribi Zuri in the DO of Getaria – the best quality grape and most celebrated DO for Txakoli production. Flysch, I’m thrilled to report, ticks both boxes, and many more. Citrus dominates the nose, but there’s an appealing hint of elderflower too. The palate is mineral and precise, with bracing acidity and a crushed oyster-shell character that lifts Flysch to another plain of class and complexity. At 11 percent, Flysh is a wonderful wine for summer lunchtimes regardless of the dish, but it works particularly well with fried fish.

Category: Spanish Wine