Category: Txakoli

Wines of the Basque Country: “Springing” for a bottle of Txomin Etxaniz Txakoli

Spring time is approaching (believe it or not), and for me one of my favorite warm weather activities is sitting on a patio with a refreshing rosado or rosé wine.

As promised, I intend to share some of the benefits of doing fieldwork in a place that is world-renowned for their gastronomy.  I am excited to share that I had an interview with one of the most prominent txakolineros here in the Basque Country.

Txomin Etxaniz, as I have been told by many, is considered a founding father for the Getariako Txakolina Denominación de Origen.  I was therefore thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Mikel, who’s grandfather is the nephew of Txomin Extaniz himself.  Mikel’s father was one of the men responsible for starting the Denominación de Origen (Designation of origin) in 1989, which originally grew from the seven families that were involved.   It was much earlier, however, that the family was written into the history of viticulture in the region.  In 1649, the Gipuzkoa Protocol Archives mention Domingo de Etxaniz as being linked to growing vines in Getaria.  The family and team still produce this relic of Basque viticulture that started well before Basque gastronomy became world-famous.  From my personal experience, it is one of the most popular labels you can find in the United States for Getariako Txakolina D.O.   

I don’t know if there is anything better than drinking this rosado on a hot summer’s day.  This is the Basque version of the label, while it is translated into English in the United States.

(Txakolin Gorria, translates tored” txakoli, versus the txakolin beltza which means “black” txakoli-much like the French use of “noir” in Pinot Noir).  The acidity seems to be perfectly balanced by the fruitiness that results from mixing the hondarrabi beltza varietal with the better known white hondarrabi zuri (white varietal).  Take it a step further by pairing it with seafood, a creamy brie, or strawberries, and your tastebuds will jump for joy.

While this is a fairly easy find in the United States, which demands much of the rosado production, there’s nothing like drinking this beauty here, close to its roots in Euskalherria.  Did I mention this place comes with a view?

To find this young, zippy wine in the US, you can check out websites like: Wine Searcher

Check out the producer’s website: Txomin Etxaniz

Here is a line-up of all their delicious fermented grape products: 

Stay tuned for more wine and food recommendations fresh out of the Basque Country.  Still to come is this family’s espumoso and late harvest wine (pictured above)!

Cheers, or as they say in the Basque Country, “Topa!”

Basques abroad

It is hard to believe I am finally here in the Basque Country.  I’m tempted to say that I’ve waited a long time to get here to Euskalherria to start my fieldwork, but that wouldn’t be a completely accurate statement.  I could even say with some certainty that this year’s work and life in the Basque Country will represent both a reduction and culmination of my life’s interests and experiences, however, that would be limiting to the extensions of those same interests which lead me here:  languages, culture, wine, travel, food, diversity, and making connections with people around the world.  So, before sharing the amazing experiences I’ve already had while studying here, I would like to highlight those which were had before my arrival to the Basque Country this January.

Knowing I would be conducting fieldwork here for a whole year, I wanted to take advantage of the time and opportunity to travel to South America with my father.  In 2014, I spent an amazing time learning about the production and wine-making process in Casablanca, Chile.  With so much Basque heritage there, I was delighted to discover that the Basque diaspora still held its roots firmly planted in this South American country.  Finding the popular Basque wine called Chacoli was an adventure I won’t forget (see previous blog to read more about Chacoli in South America), discovering the ways in which a culture can change and be maintained across the globe.  But before returning to Chile, my dad and I checked out some Basque culture in Argentina.

I had come to know of a Basque restaurant from a man who had wandered into the Center for Basque Studies  before my departure.  He told me about his family and how one of them had started a restaurant in Buenos Aires.  I mentioned I’d be heading there soon, so he gave me the information to find Leiketio.  The food and drink which combined aspects of both Basque and Latin American cuisine were amazing. However, the most satisfying part of the meal was being able to use the little Basque I had acquired from the previous summer to speak to a server who had recently moved from the Basque Country.

My second encounter with Basque culture in South America happened after my dad had returned to the US, and I had moved on for my second visit to Chile.  I was in the beautiful, historic town of Valparaiso, listening to music and enjoying the warmer weather when a couple had passed me speaking Basque.  I started talking to them and found out they were the band Niña Coyote and Chico Tornado (and very well known I might add in the Basque Country! See below for a clip of their music).  Also turns out the family of one of the members lived on the same street that I currently live now here in Euskalherria!

Just goes to show that si, el mundo es un pañuelo! Hau bai mundu txikia! It’s a small world!

I hope to keep making these cross-cultural connections over the next year here.  Stay tuned for more adventures in fieldwork from here in Euskalherria!

 

The terroir that creates Txakoli

 

As I was wandering through my Facebook, I came across a post by Mikel Garaizabal, enologist at Mendraka Winery.  For anyone that knows me, I’m a little obsessed with Basque wine–in particular, Txakolina.  Although I have not visited the Basque Country in over 10 years, and what I did see of it was only San Sebastian, I hope to visit these fields during my upcoming trip there this summer. This video covers the grape varietals used in producing Txakoli, and even goes into detail to describe the terroir with picturesque views with the ocean in the background, the cycles according to season, and the green hills on which these vines thrive.  Take a look below and check out the Bizkaia Denominacion de Origenes.

 

Basque Wine Blog: New Movie!

Charlie Arturaola is a Uruguayan wine expert who starred in El Camino de Vino, and is also the star in the a new independent film directed by Nicolás Carreras and produced by Lino Pujia.  In the film, Charlie plays a wine taster that has lost his palate and who goes in search of getting it back.  This story takes place between Italy and the Basque Country as Charlie hunts down his lost senses.  For a short clip of Charlie in the Basque Country, watch:

Check out the movie coming soon at:

http://www.theduelofwinemovie.com/

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Charlie Arturaola

 

 

 

Rockin’ the foodie charts-Basque represent!

Out of the top  10 restaurants in the world, only two are from the same “country,” one of them being from the Basque Country more specifically. And, even more impressive than that, out of the top 20 restaurants in the world, a whopping FOUR (that is 1/5th everyone!) of the restaurants are from the Basque Country!

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Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena, who jointly run the Arzak Restaurant in Donostia-San Sebastián. Photo by Javier Lastras, via Wikimedia Commons

Within the Top 20 are:

#6 Mugaritz

#13 Asador Etxebarri

#17 Arzak

#19 Azurmendi

What does this mean for the Basque people?  Well, many things I assume, but I’m guessing it has and will continue to bring in more awareness of Basque culture and its talents and adaptability in the modern world.  This combination of nostalgia and invention go hand-in-hand to continue giving recognition to and set these people apart in the globalized society.  And this may in part be exactly what the culture needs to stay alive.

Click below for the full list of restaurants:

http://www.theworlds50best.com/

Talking Txakoli, with sommelier Mikel Garaizabal

What are the chances that Jaialdi-one of the largest Basque festivals in the world and celebrated only once every five years-would take place the summer after I start my studies at the CBS in Reno?!

Thanks to a couple of acquaintances and friends of friends, I was able to get in touch with sommelier Mikel Garaizabal at Jaialdi. As someone who has worked in the wine industry and has been studying for the CSW (Certified Specialist of Wine exam) it was quite an honor to meet this man who is also an enologist at Mendraka winery (website in progress) making txakolina, expert in working with Tourism and Hospitality,  and an author of four books, one of my favorites-the award-winning Txakoli de Bizkaia. El Viaje (Txakoli of Bizkaia: The Journey). Mikel graciously made time for our interview despite his busy schedule, and displayed his enthusiasm as he shared his knowledge of wine and travel.  Over the course of the interview, we talked about the history of Txakoli, and a bit about similar wines made in Chile that are remnants of the Basque diaspora.  For more information on Mikel Garaizabal check out his website and video below.

http://www.catarvino.com/ (In Spanish and Euskera)

http://www.catarvino.com/portfolio/partes-de-la-vid/ (In Spanish)

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