Note from the author: There are 1,368 varieties covered in Wine Grapes by MW Jancis Robinson, MW Julia Harding, and Dr. Jose Vouillamoz. Bet you can't try them all.
This post could go one of two ways.
I could explain to you the convoluted differences between the Hondarribi Zuri and Hondarribi Beltza grapes, and how the former is actually just a convenient name given to three completely different white grapes, none of them seemingly indigenous to the Txakolina region of Spain but all of them "called" native by the locals. Hondarribia, you see, is the name of a town nearby here in Basque country, and beltza in the local dialect means black, while zuri means white. Convenient. But evidently completely misleading!
The Hondarribi Zuri entry in Wine Grapes references three separate listings that eventually lead you to a disconcerting note: "The use of this name for both Courbu Blanc and Crouchen is a source of confusion because DNA profiling has surprisingly shown that another reference sample of Hondarribi Zuri is in fact identical to Noah, an American hybrid."
On top of all that, I could explain to you the similarities and differences and crossovers between the three different sub-regions of Txakolina. Or how Txakolina is the same as Txakoli is the same as Chocolí. This post could get very confusing and frustrating.
Instead, let's take this post the second way and make it simple. Because, sure, sometimes wine can be more enjoyable when you understand all its background and intricacies... but sometimes, it's much more enjoyable when you just tilt your head back and drink it, savoring its sheer deliciousness, happily and with abandon. This is what I recommend with Txakolina, which is made from a local grape whose DNA-verified origins, identity and parentage we will let slide today in deference to the fun part of Hondarribi Zuri's story: how to drink it.
Basque locals traditionally drink the stuff out of a bulbous, pointy spouted, awesomely crowd-friendly pitcher called a porrón held high above one's head.
I first fell in love with the porrón and the wine poured out of it at a Txakolina party held in New York City a few years ago. When I got married last May, I insisted on a case of Txakolina for the nuptials... and porróns for celebration-enhancing purposes, of course.
Our trusty porrón made its latest appearance this past weekend to help us suitably celebrate our first anniversary (woop!), where we drank the crisp and refreshing, lemon-and-grapefruity 2011 Itsas Mendi Hondarribi Zuri (Courbu Blanc? Crouchen? Noah?! Who cares, it was delicious!) in fitting, festive style.
2011 Itsas Mendi Hondarribi Zuri
The Grape(s): Hondarribi Zuri (Courbu Blanc, Crouchen, and/or Noah)
The Region: Bizkaiko Txakolina, Spain
Retail Price: $17
The Importer: Winebow
About the Author: Stevie Stacionis is a wine writer and Certified Sommelier based in San Francisco. She's currently drinking her way through the 1,368 varieties included in the new Wine Grapes tome. Follow her on Twitter @StevieStacionis and check out her snobbery-free wine videos at A Drinks With Friends TV.