Eric Asimov is an old friend to the blog, and to our regular readers, though he may not be aware.
In 2010, just after we’d gotten started down this digital path, much to our pleasant surprise we came across one of his articles in The New York Times in which he praised Basque cider. And not just that, he did so in an articule about Thanksgiving, when cider is a featured beverage on American dinner tables.
Four years later, in 2014, he again gave us a magnificent article about the wines produced north of the Pyrenees: Irouléguy wines. He shared how he “ran into” one of the wines in this Basque wine-growing region…and he considered it “irresistible”.
We’re sure there’s enough baggage here to go on thanking this New Yorker for, but in turns out that all these years he’s continued writing about how marvellous the wineries of our country are and we hadn’t found out.
Fortunately, today we did come across one of his articles published in “The Gray Lady” on January 28. In it, he invites us on a journey all over the world sampling a selection of wines that can be found in the US for no more than $20. That’s 20 wines from 11 countries that have only one thing in common: they “offer great value but also convey the flavor of the places that produced them.”
This selection of wines opened our eyes to Asmiov’s tradition of publishing lists of amazing, high-quality wines that can be had for under $20, showing us a good handful of references he’s written on Basque wines.
So, we’re going to share with you an overview of the wines he’s discussed and the article they appear in.
And, of course, we encourage Eric Asimov to continue sampling and recommending Basque wines… he has many treasures to discover!
New York Times – 28/1/2021 – USA
20 Wines Under $20: Postcards From Around the World
Xarmant 2019 – Arabako Txakolina $19.99
Txakolina is the wine of Spanish Basque Country. It has developed a following in the United States over the last 15 years, and why not? It’s brisk and refreshing, and is a great match for fresh fish and shellfish, or simply as an aperitif.
New York Times – 15/10/2020 – USA
In Trying Times, 20 Wines Under $20 That Revive and Restore
Camino 2019- Getariako Txakolina $18.99
This lightly sparkling wine, made entirely of the local hondarrabi zuri grape, comes from Basque Country in Spain. It’s delicate but intense, crisp and bracing. As you drink it, you can almost feel the stiff salt breeze blowing in off the Atlantic. It’s just the thing for oysters, clams and other light seafood preparations, or maybe for an aperitif.
New York Times – 30/1/2020 – USA
20 Reds Under $20: Where the Values Live, for Now
Viña Zorzal – Navarra Garnacha 2017 $10.99
This fragrant, floral red, made from old-vine garnacha, is one of the best deals I have seen in a while. It’s lively and spicy, and while not especially complex, it’s fresh, juicy and offers unexpected nuances. Serve lightly chilled.
New York Times – 17/5/2018 – USA
20 Wines Under $20: Plenty of Variety and Not One Chardonnay
Domaine Ilarria Irouléguy 2014 $19.99
I’ve long been smitten with the wines of Irouléguy, a tiny region in the beautiful Basque country in the extreme southwest of France. Domaine Ilarria, one of my favorite producers, makes a great rosé, and this superb, lithe, earthy red, made primarily of tannat and cabernet franc, with a bit of cabernet sauvignon. Peio Espil, who started Ilarria in the 1980s, follows a hands-off style of farming and winemaking, yet his wines are always precise, detailed and solid. (A Thomas Calder Selection/Moonlight Wine, New York)
New York Times – 22/6/2016 – USA
20 Wines Under $20: The Savory Side of Rosé
Antxiola rosado 2016. Getariako Txakolina $16.99
Txakolina is the refreshing wine of choice in the Basque region of northern Spain, and has proved resoundingly popular in the United States, especially the rosés. The Antxiola, pale salmon in color, smells like red berries and is mildly effervescent. On the palate, however, the wine tastes as if the grapes, grown on the southern edge of the Bay of Biscay, were hit by blasts of salt sea air. At just 11 percent alcohol, this would be a good lunch wine.
New York Times – 22/10/2015 – USA
Fall Wine: 20 Under $20
Domaine Ilarria Rosé 2014 Irouléguy $19.99
This is one of my favorite rosés. Peio Espil farms his limestone hillside vineyard in the extreme southwest of France with meticulous care and works in the cellar as naturally as possible. The result is a rosé the color of pale blood, rich with the elemental flavors of iron and minerals. A summer wine? This is a cold-weather rosé if ever there was one, and it will improve with aging.