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The Vuelta Espana Visits Basque Country!

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While we are well aware that the Vuelta España has come to an end, with Juan José Cobo of Team Geox-TMC as the overall GC winner, we wish to take a moment here to turn back the clock so that we can linger on Stages 19 & 20, when the peloton passed through Basque Country.  Home to three wine regions, including D.O. Arabako Txakolina, D.O. Bizkaiko Txakolina, and D.O. Getariako Txakolina, Basque Country once hosted the start and finish of the Vuelta España for 15 years in a row.  From 1955 to 1970, this 21-day stage race began and ended in Bilbao, and for the first time since 1978, the Vuelta returns to its roots.

Organized in the past by El Corres Español, a Basque Country newspaper, the Vuelta hasn’t visited the region for 33 years.  In 1978, separatist protesters blocked the road during a stage, bringing the race to a hault.  The time trial in San Sebastian was also affected, and so, to avoid further upsets, the Vuelta removed the Basque Country from its routes.

The heartland of Spanish cycling, Basque Country is home to Euskaltel-Euskadi, the unofficial national team.  Created in 1994 and commercially sponsored, the team is also partly funded by the Basque Country government.  Composed of riders who are either from Basque or who are products of the cycling region, Euskaltel-Euskadi was shooting for a stage win in Bilbao, a victory for the home team.

Igor Anton of Team Euskaltel-Euskadi Takes Stage 19
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In Bilbao, the finishline of Stage 19 was lined with local fans, as Igor Anton of Team Euskaltel delivered a hero’s win.  To toast such a finish, what would we have poured in his glass?  None other than Ameztoi Rubentis Txakolina, a delightfully light rosé wine from one of the top producers in Basque.  Imported by De Maison Selections and made from a blend of two local varietals–the red grape Hondarribi Beltza and the white Hondarribi Zuri–the Ameztoi Rubentis is made from 150+ year old vines, by seventh generation vintner, Ignacio Ameztoi.  Located in the province of Getaria, the winery owns 20ha of vineyards that overlook the town of San Sebastian and are greatly influenced by the nearby Atlantic Ocean.

Fermented in stainless steel and bottled with residual carbon, this rosé possesses a light and natural spritz.  Low in alcohol, and the perfect marriage of fruit and acidity, the Rubentis drinks well on its own or with seafood.

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