This upscale jamonería and winery is the best place to learn about Spanish ham and wines without having to leave the country.

In the Basque region of Spain, hidden in the sprawling countryside, lies a quaint country house that has stood the test of time for hundreds of years. Txanton Torre, as the house is named, was owned by Paulino Txanton Aboitiz, who came to the Philippines in the 19th century and founded what is now the Aboitiz Group.

Today, an upscale jamonería and winery sits in the second floor of the Alegria Alta building along the busy avenue of Chino Roces in Makati. Txanton, which is translated from Basque as Joseph, is a homage to the Aboitiz patriarch.

Upon entrance, one is greeted with a Jamón Mural, a color coded instructional display on the different varieties of Spanish jamón. The mural shows the names of various hams—Reserva, Ibérico, and Ibérico de Bellota—as well as the curation time of each.

The rest of the space is divided into three sections—La Tienda (The Shop), La Casa de Cata (The Tasting Room), and La Gran Añanda (The Great Vintage). The Shop is where customers can sit for a casual evening of wine and jamón tastings. The Tasting Room is ideal for corporate or intimate social gatherings. And The Great Vintage houses over 1, 500 special wines and is reserved for larger functions, whilst still maintaining the intimate setting that Txanton aims to have.

Txanton offers four varying experiences all centered on the jamon ibérico de bellota. “The Iberian pigs are only in Spain,” says General Manager Besay Gonzalez. “You cannot find it in other countries.” So the jamon ibérico de bellota is doubly special, because these are pure bred Spanish pigs who eat only acorn nuts. It is these acorn nuts that give this jamón its unequalled flavor.

The first of the tastings is the Tasting of Jamón (Php 1, 155), which includes the jamón Reserva, Ibérico, Ibérico de Bellota Guijuelo from Salamanca, and the Ibérico de Bellota Huelva. The second is the Tasting of Jamón de Bellota (Php 1, 410), which includes all four kinds of jamón Ibérico de Bellota—Guijuelo, Extramadura, Huelva, and Pedroches.  The third is the Jamón Experience Tasting (Php 1, 865), which gives the customer all six kinds of jamón. And the last is the Jamón Plates (Php 910) with the Reserva and Ibérico.

The second tasting is a representation of the four regions in Spain that make the Ibérico de Bellota—Guijuelo in Salamanca, the Extramadura in the west of Spain, the Pedroches in Cordoba, and Huelva or Jabugo in Andalusia. “This is the top one because you get to try the four top hams that we offer,” Besay said.

Of the four, the Pedroches is the smoothest on the palette. It’s beautiful, and Besay agrees. “The Pedroches is a long finish,” he explains. “[The flavor] stays in your mouth long.” The saltiness of the Pedroches isn’t jarring to the eater, and the flavor the meat glides gracefully in the mouth and stays long after it’s been consumed.

The first three tastings come with a wine pairing for each variety of jamón. “It is usually said that the best wine to pair with jamón is sparkling wine,” says Besay. “The reason is because it cleanses your mouth. It cleans your palette. And then the bubbles of the sparkling wine emphasize the umami.”

Aside from the tastings and wine, Txanton’s menu also includes a number of tapas, side dishes, and sandwiches. They have the Jamon Roller (Php 480), which has arugula and tomato stuffed inside a roll of jamon and the Tierras de Casa Blanca Picual Olive Oil (Php 275), which is a platter of bread, tomatoes, garlic, a variety of salts, and olive oil. Both are more playful menu items but are nontheless worth trying.

With a goal to be the primary destination for jamón and wine in the Philippines, Txanton has created a structured experience that educates about Spanish ham. “There’s not a place like this in the Philippines,” says Besay as he sips a glass of Gessamí wine from Penedés in the region of Catalonia, Spain.

And as the first jamonería in the Philippines that offers an experiential, not to mention delicious, lesson without having to go to Spain to learn, indeed there isn’t.

Txanton is located at 2F Allegria Alta bldg, 2294 Pasong Tamo Ext, Makati.

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