Kerri Lesh presents a panel on Basque “terroir” for the American Anthropological Association

Before heading across the better half of the continental USA, I had a chance to reintegrate with a little action in Washington DC just a couple of weeks ago. I was nervous and excited to chair, present, and  co-organized, alongside Anne Lally, the panel “Taste and Terroir as Anthropological Matter” at the annual American Anthropological Association meeting. My panel was titled “The sociolinguistic economy of terroir: constructing and marketing identity in the Basque Country”. In this paper I discussed how the concept of terroir was directly and indirectly translated into Basque within various gastronomic contexts. The result was to show how this multi-faceted concept of terroir provides a lens for looking at which components become most salient to Basques in the process, and what that in turn shows about the values portrayed in social, linguistic, and gastronomic production.

It was an amazing opportunity as I was luckily enough to secure Amy Trubek, one of my academic idols and author of “Taste of Place;  A Cultural Journey into Terroir”. It was well attended with questions to follow that provide further food for thought. Afterward, it was everyone to the bar for a round of drinks, which was my favorite part-not because I love wine, but because it is at these AAA meetings that I feel I have found my academic family. Cheers, and stay tuned to see what becomes of the panel! Rumor has it, it’s not over yet…


  1. Roman Lahodynsky

    February 4, 2018 at 7:04 am

    Thanks for your Basque wine infos! For consumers here in Austria (a wine country with many different own terroir- jewels) Rioja has the top quality position of Spanish wines. Navarra or the relatively new Bierzo region are less known. If the consumer dares to decipher the text on the backside label, printed in Spanish in very small letters, he/she can sometimes find a remark “embottled in xx, Alava”. Txakoli comes close to our dry white wines, which grow in rough climate, but you cannot buy it here. I found a bottle of red wine, named “Baigorri” in big letters, and new it is from Arraba, because of Oskorri`s song “topa dagigun”, which is a remake of “Suliko”, Stalins favorite song from his childhood in Georgia/Caucasus.

    • Kerri Lesh

      February 6, 2018 at 1:43 pm

      Hello and thank you for your comment on our post! I see you are noting the size of the text that describes the Basque wine-making region of Rioja. This is very interesting as I am sure the labels can change a bit from country to country, depending on their respective labeling requirements (and now the importance of the “sub” regions). When you speak of white wines from Austria that resemble txakoli (hondarabbi zuri being a key player), would this be the Gruner Vetliner? The Nikolaihof Wachau is one we can typically see in the US, though it is still not so commonly found. Any other recommendations that compare to txakoli there in Austria?
      Baigorri is a fairly well known red in the larger Rioja, as well as in most of the Basque Country, but I have never heard the song “Topa Dagigun”! What a wonderful share! And I never would have known it was a remake of one of Stalin’s favorite songs! Thank you again for sharing your perective and knowledge with the us. We hope to hear back from you soon!

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