The story of Tippitonia is a family story, Diana’s French Basque side, her mother Jesse being an Anchordoquy. Both of Jesse’s parents were born in the French Basque country and made there way to Santa Barbara California shortly after 1900. They met and married here but they grew up about 15 miles away in their homeland. This wine’s label focuses on Diana’s Amachi (grandmother) Marie Falxa and the house in the picture is called Tippitonia (Tippito) which means little place and is high in the Pyrenee still in France but within a stone’s throw of Spain or the Spanish Basque country.
Diana and I have been lucky enough to have visited Tippitonia twice once in 1986 when I took this picture and then again accompanied with our daughters and niece on a roots trip in 2000. During those trips I had my share of their wines and set out to make our own Basque Heritage Red in honor of Diana’s roots (or at least half her roots).
So being just soft of the Bordeaux, it’s not uncommon to find those famous grapes grown, especially Merlot. Of course there are others I have no idea what they are like Tannat. But I started with a base of the King’s Red XIII (mainly Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah with a touch of Pinot Noir, Cab Franc and Sangiovese) followed with blending trials of near equal parts of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Then played with additions from one barrel mixed with two Portuguese (Port) varieties and our first tiny vintage of Tempranillo. Step out of the cellar for a little fresh air and to make sure our heads were clear and back for the final go around. We nailed it and wrote it down on a piece of scratch paper and Tippitonia was reborn.
Now bottled, Tippitonia delivers an unique experience much like you’ll find on your first trip to the land of the Bascos where life is hard, life is good and there’s much to celebrate.