Starting last month, Jaleo of Bethesda launched a new weekly event celebrating the art of Spanish Wine with their “Monday Night Flights” series. For $25, diners get to sample four glasses of wine, each showcasing a different variety from Spain’s wine country.
The month of July focuses on Txakoli wines, which tend to be dry and sparkling with high acidity. The restaurant invited us over earlier this week to take a tour of the Basque Country and see why Txakoli is such a cult hit in Spain. (Full disclosure — this meal was provided by the restaurant).
Curated by ThinkFoodGroup’s wine director Lucas Payá, “Monday Night Flights” also features two different individually-sized paella plates that are specially crafted to pair with the wine flight. Turns out that there are three regions in the Basque Country that specialize in Txakoli – Getariako, Bizkaiko, and Alava.
The first wine we sampled was a 2012 Berroia from the Bizkaiko region. Fruity and refreshing, it was not as dry as anticipated and paired nicely with the acorn-fed cured ham.
Our next glass was a 2012 Ameztoi Rubentis rose from the Getariako region. Light and crisp with a slight fizz, it provided some quality refreshment given the muggy summer evening. Combined with the Cana de Cabra (slices of goat’s milk cheese paired with raisin walnut bread and fig jam), it made for a quality pairing. Although the wine may have gone a little better with a harder cheese, the one we chose was equally delicious and we were happy with our selection.
The next glass in our flight was a 2012 Txomin Etxaniz Txakolina from the Getraiako region. What’s great about Txakoli is that it is a great sipping wine which makes it an ideal beverage for sharing plates of tapas. For instance, the Txomin Etxaniz featured a lemony flavor and went well with one of Jaleo’s more innovative dishes, Oysters Gin and Tonic.
Our final glass of the evening was a 2010 Gorrondona Txakolina Tinto from the Bizkaiko region, and was the only red wine of our flight. Featuring a great deal of minerality as well as a slightly spicy finish, it paired excellently with the Canary Island-style rabbit confit with apricot purée.
The Txakoli also complemented the restaurant’s paella dish of the evening, Arroz Mediterrano. Prepared with porcini mushrooms, mixed vegetables, green and black olives, and thyme, it was nice being able to share a paella dish between two people instead of having to order one for the entire table.
One of our favorite tapas of the evening might have been the Setas Al Ajillo Con La Serena, sautéed seasonal mushrooms with cheese potato purée. Both Rachel and I gushed about the texture of the dish as it felt more like comfort food than your traditional Spanish dish.
Txakoli also pairs really nicely with seafood as we learned while sipping a glass along with an order of seared scallops with with pine nuts and raisins.
Before we concluded Monday Night Flights, we decided to try the olive oil ice cream for dessert. At first, we just thought it would be a scoop of ice cream served with a side of grapefruit. Oh how wrong we were. Instead was a scoop of olive oil ice cream surrounded by fresh grapefruit, a grapefruit granita, and topped with candied grapefruit. Our waiter told us to make sure to have every component on the spoon before trying it. He was right as this was one of the most original desserts we have had in quite some time. The tartness of the grapefruit was balanced by the softness of the ice cream and made for a sweet ending to a fabulous meal.
Monday Night Flights is offered at Jaleo of Bethesda from 5:30pm to 10pm for $25 per person. For additional information or reservations please visit www.jaleo.com.