Just before the Thanksgiving weekend on November 20th, Academic Minute featured a series of pieces about various drinks, to include beer and caffeinated beverages. Among the academics featured, Kerri Lesh presented on Txakolina–“a hard to define wine.”
As a cultural and linguistic anthropologist and Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW), Kerri’s research examines the use of the Basque language, Euskara, in the creation of value for marketing local gastronomic products. Her dissertation, divided into chapters on various Basque beverages, analyzes how each product distinctly functions in various markets when using Euskara to promote it. One of her chapters looks at the various ways in which the traditional Basque wine, txakolina, is advertised and commodified to create value for the product as well as the Basque language.
Her piece that is featured can be found here on Academic Minute and on NPR’s podcast, discusses the uniqueness of this locally produced Basque wine, and the uncharacteristic ways in how it is defined. Aside from her love of food and wine, the aim for Kerri’s dissertation is to demonstrate ways in which value is created for the Basque language in contribution to language normalization.
Kerri plans to defend her dissertation this upcoming May, and to teach a course during the first session of summer titled “Consuming Identities: Food and Drink as Cultural Heritage.”
Kerri Lesh, a PhD candidate at the Center in sociolinguistics and anthropology, recently posted on the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition (SAFN) blog. In “Size Matters: How Semiotics is Making History in the World of Wine,” Lesh discusses the recent agreement on the part of Rioja winemakers to accept a separate designation whereby the Rioja wines of the Basque province of Araba/Álava are clearly demarcated from other wines within the overall Rioja brand.
What’s more, as noted in the post, Lesh has also co-organized, alongside Anne Lally, and will chair the panel “Taste and Terroir as Anthropological Matter” at the forthcoming annual American Anthropological Association meeting, to be held this November in Washington D.C.
Read the full post here.
Rioja wine from Araba. Picture by Agne27, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Our resident wine expert, CBS grad student Kerri Lesh, has posted previously (see her posts here and here) on the debate in Araba wine circles over whether to create a new and distinct classification of the wine produced in this Basque province outside the Rioja label under which it is currently categorized. The latest news in this regard is that a tentative agreement has been reached between the Rioja Regulating Council and ABRA (the association representing some 40 Araba winemakers seeking a distinct classification) whereby the latter will forgo its pursuit of a distinct label in return for a new labeling policy that will, theoretically and within two years, list the respective sub-division of the wines produced in the Rioja region (Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Alta, or Rioja Baja) equally in size on the labels (a key part of the demands from certain Araba producers) to the traditional Rioja brand mark. In theory, then, from the 2017 harvest onward, bottles of Rioja originating in Araba will be clearly labeled as such in a font equal to the generic Rioja label, thus allowing consumers to choose clearly from which sub-division of the Rioja producing area they prefer to purchase their wine.
…Walk into a bar?
No! “Un restaurador, un ganadero, y un cura…” make Txakoli! At least that is what the label of Txakoli Uno from Goianea Bodega says. The Bodega GOIANEA produces wine through the collaboration of Juan José Tellaetxe (priest), Jose Cruz Guinea (restaurant owner), and Jose María Gotxi (rancher). I met two out of these three guys this last weekend here in the Basque Country during the Arabako Txakoli Eguna 2017 celebration. This wine uses the autochthonous grapes (Hondarrabi Zuri and Hondarrabi Zuri Zerratia) from the Designation of Origin of Álava, and is quite tasty I might add! They had another version aged on its lees and in barrels that was also being served up on Sunday, but I settled on just buying a bottle of the crisper version. The words seen on the label Bat Gara, meaning “we are one,” caught my eye as I have an appreciation for those that decide on using Basque in their advertising. Check out the video to learn more about Txakoli Uno from Goianea Bodega, below!
Goianea Bodega Video
The main building, Villa Lucía. Picture taken from the center’s website.
If you are planning a trip to the Basque Country and one of your interests is the great Rioja wine of Araba, Rioja Alavesa, then an excellent starting point is the Villa Lucía Thematic Center of Wine. The center is located in Guardia/Laguardia, Araba, in a mansion that belongs to the family of the renowned neoclassical fabulist Félix María de Samaniego (1745–1801).
The museum. Picture taken from the center’s website.
Visitors to the center can take an interactive tour of the wine-making process, visit the center’s museum and library, take part in an enogastronomic gymkhana–a fun way to find out more about food and drink by playing group-based games revolving around guessing the different aromas and characteristics of wine as well as trying to create your own pintxos–or just taste different grapes and take a crash course in wine tasting. There is also ample room on this country estate to stroll around its gardens (with over 200 plant and flower varieties) and have a drink and a meal or a snack while planning your visit to this fascinating and historic part of the Basque Country.
A view of the gardens in the grounds of the estate. Picture taken from the center’s website.
For more information, click here.
According to a recent report by Granconsumo.tv, the Basque Country and Andalucía have earned the highest growth rates in wine exports from Spain during the first quarter of 2016. The Basque Country experienced the biggest growth in sales ( 4.7 million euros) and Andalucía in production (1.4 million liters).
This phenomenon is interesting because overall wine exports in the Spanish regions have declined in both sales and volume due to steep price increases. Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, Valencia, and Murcia have all experienced a fall in sales and production. According to the report, the strategy to focus on added value has made the products of Basque Country and Navarre more competitive, hence mitigating the impact of price upsurge.
Per and Britt Karlsson are contributors to Forbes and have taken on the business of wine. Recently they have written an article about the famed Rioja region (look back on previous blogs for more new on Basque wine) in Spain. The two contributors are telling the story of one of the most well-known and prestigious wineries in Spain: Baigorri. Baigorri is located in the Rioja Alavesa region in the Basque Country. While the famed reds of the region tend to focus a lot on grapes such as Tempranillo, Garnacha, Graciano, and Cariñena, according to the Karlsson’s, the University of Logroño is trying to revive some of the 23 grapes that the region used to boast. Maturana Tinta is one of the grapes that they are hoping can make a comeback.
In the article, Matthias Lange, the PR manager says, “Here we have two meters of clay and pure limestone below…The roots pick up minerals down there”.
If this is true, according to other events happening in the Rioja region, would this give the Alavesa/Basque region a case to at least label its bottles differently, focusing on the grapes and terroir in which it is grown?
For the whole article by the Karlsson’s check out:
Map courtesy of winefolly.com
Most everyone that knows me knows I have an odd obsession with the Basque wine Txakoli. However, while I find great identity for the Basques in this wine, there are other types that are more internationally known for their deliciousness. If you are an oenophile of any sort, you probably are familiar with the Rioja wine-making region of the Basque Country. The wine region is the oldest and arguably the most prestigious in the Iberian Peninsula, and is designated as a Denominacion de Origen Calificada (DOCa), which basically means that the wines produced in this region are protected, regulated, and known for their high quality. There is only one other region in Spain with this high of a rating (DOQ as translated), and that is given to the region of Priorat in Catalonia. Within the Rioja wine-growing area, there are three sub-zones: Rioja Alavesa, Rioja Baja, and Rioja Alta. The Alavesa sub-zone just north of the Ebro River is in the Basque Country, and this may or may not be one of the reasons influencing the desire there to be distinguished from the rest of the broader Rioja region. There has been no decision or ruling on what will happen in the future yet, but it seems to be an ongoing topic in the news. For a recent article (in Spanish) on the issue, check out:
Ostatu, roughly translated as “tavern” is a producer in Rioja Alavesa that has been reported as one of the wineries wanting to differentiate itself from the wider Rioja DOC region. Photo courtesy of cellartracker.com
Get ready for Txakolina! Txakoli Fest will be celebrated May 2nd, 2-6 at Craft. Here is a schedule of what’s going to happen from owner Ty Martin:
Spring has sprung!
Wait, I can do better than that…
“In winter, I plot and plan. In spring, I move.”
-Henry Frickin Rollins
My sentiments exactly, Hank!
So here I sit, reading over last year’s May newsletter, looking for a little inspiration about how to talk about only my favorite event of the whole year – Txakoli Fest. I’m actually getting pretty pumped just thinking about all the cool refreshment those crispy bubbles will bring. Of course, you’ll need some Herculean activity to build a thirst mighty enough for this much wine so we’ve partnered up again with the Zazpiak Bat dancers who’ll smilingly run you ragged as you learn some traditional steps. Since that only covers activity and hydration we should probably throw a whole lamb and some chorizo into the mix so you can make it to round two of the dancing. Houston, we have a party. The details: Saturday, May 2nd, from 2pm-6pm. Tasting flights of Txakolina and cider (sagardoa) will be on offer as well as bottles and glasses, a belly-full of food should run you around $12 and yes, because you asked, Matt and Cassie will be here.
Photo courtesy of Craft
Photo courtesy of Craft