Txakoli


Txakoli
Txakoli vines in the Getaria region

Txakoli (pronounced [tʃakoˈli]) is a slightly sparkling, very dry white wine with high acidity and low alcohol content produced in the Spanish provinces of the Basque Country, Cantabria and northern Burgos. Further afield, Chile is also a producer of chacolí.

It is normally served as an aperitif and drunk within one year of bottling as it cannot be stored for longer. The most common, white, variety has a pale green colour, but there are red and rosé varieties. When served, it is normally poured into tall glasses from a height, often as an accompaniment to pintxos today. It typically has between 9.5-11.5 ABV.

The 18th century Palace of Mendibile in Leioa near Bilbao today houses a museum dedicated to txakoli, the Museo del Txakoli, explaining the history of txakoli and with a large collection of machinery used for making it.

Contents

The name

This wine is called txakoli or txakolin(a) (pronounced [tʃakoˈliɲa]) in Basque. The word is native Basque, but except for the ending -in which frequently occurs in liquids (cf ozpin "vinegar"), the word is obscure.[1] In Spanish it is commonly spelled chacolí and chacoli in French.

History

Until the 1980s, txakoli was a home-made wine, drunk in the Basque Country, Cantabria and Valle de Mena, and almost in danger of dying out towards the middle of the 19th century.[2][3] However, since some varieties of txakoli in the Basque Country managed to achieve Denominación de Origen certification from 1994 onwards,[2] its quality, spread and appeal have increased.

Varieties

The three txakoli-producing regions in the Basque Country.
  Alavan Txakoli
  Biscayan Txakoli
  Getaria Txakoli

Txakoli is traditionally fermented in foudres (very old, large oak barrels) but most txakoli produced today is fermented in stainless steel vats. There are three DO certified varieties.

Most txakoli is grown in the Atlantic regions of the Basque Country, areas with high rainfall (between 1000 mm and 1600 mm of annual rainfall on average) and average temperatures between 7.5 °C and 18.7 °C, occasionally suffering from frost.

Alavan Txakoli

Arabako Txakolina in Basque, Chacolí de Álava in Spanish. This variety comes from the far north-western end of Álava. It is the youngest of the three DO varieties of txakoli, having gained certification in 2001. It is yellowish in color, very acidic and slightly frothy.

It is grown over some 55 ha of land around the towns of Aiara, Amurrio, Artziniega, Laudio and Okondo. Wine-making has a long tradition in this region, going back as far as 760 AD in the historical record. In the late 19th century, grapes were grown on more than 500 ha of land, declining to 5ha in the late 20th century before the recent revival.[4]

The most commonly used grape for this txakoli is Hondarribi Zuria ("white Hondarribia") but other grapes are also permitted: Bordeleza Zuria (Folle Blanche), Izkiriota Ttipia (Petit Manseng), Izkiriota (Gros Manseng) and Courbu.[4]

Biscayan Txakoli

Txakoli vines near Erandio

Bizkaiko Txakolina in Basque, Chacolí de Vizcaya in Spanish. This variety is made in most parts of Biscay, except for the far western end. This was the second txakoli to receive the DO certification in 1994.[4]

It is grown on approximately 150 ha by 85 villages and towns throughout Biscay, producing some 700,000 litres of txakoli annually. Records of wine making in this region go back to the 8th century and references to txakoli go back several centuries themselves. The quality of the txakoli varies, as the microclimatic conditions vary.[4]

Both white and red grapes are used for making txakoli in Biscay. White varieties are Hondarribi Zuria and Folle blanche (called Munemahatsa in Biscay); the red variety used is Hondarribi Beltza ("black Hondarribia").[4]

Historically another light red variety called Oilar Begi ("chicken eye") was also used. This variety had almost become extinct and is making a slow comeback.[4]

Txakoli from Getaria

Serving Txakoli in San Sebastián
A bottle of Getaria txakoli

Getariako Txakolina in Basque, Chacolí de Guetaria in Spanish. This variety comes from a small region in Gipuzkoa around the towns of Getaria, Zarautz and Aia and is of a very pale yellow to green color. This was the first variety of txakoli to receive the DO certification in 1989.[4]

Although the cultivated area has increased from 60 ha to 177 ha since certification, this remains the smallest variety in terms of the area cultivated. Annually some 900,000 litres are produced in this area, mostly on south-east facing slopes to protect the vines from the harsh atlantic weather. Unlike the other varieties which are grown as most varieties of grapes, the grapes for this txakoli are grown according to the treille or trellis system (called parra in Basque). In this system, the vines are cultivated at a greater height above the ground, with the foliage forming a contiguous canopy to improve the microclimate. The white variety used is Hondarribi Zuria, the red grape is Hondarribi Beltza.[4]

In recent years, other towns in the area have also started growing txakoli grapes, including Orio, Zumaia, Arrasate, Eibar, Mutriku, Deba, Zestoa, Hondarribia, Villabona, Urnieta, Oñati, Beizama, Zerain and Olaberria.

Cantabrian Chacolí

Chacolí, in the original common French, Spanish and Basque spelling chacoli, was traditional also in the region of Cantabria until the end of the 19th century. Great amounts were consumed and exported from the 13th to the 19th century, produced in the comarca of Trasmiera, with villages including Colindres, Arnuero, Meruelo, Argoños and Noja as the main vineyards and production areas of chacolí.[3] The production of Cantabria, even in the middle of the 20th century, far exceeded that of the Basque provinces.[5] Chacolí is still produced in Cantabria, but on a very limited scale.

Chacolí from Burgos

It is also still produced in the Valle de Mena in the province of Burgos, where efforts are being made to receive DO certification.[6]

References

  1. ^ Azkue, RM Diccionario Vasco-Español-Frances 1905
  2. ^ a b Facaros, D & Pauls, M Bilbao and the Basque Lands Cadoganguides 2003
  3. ^ a b Barreda, Fernando (1947 1st reprint 2001). El chacolí santanderino en los siglos XIII al XIX. Santander: Editorial Maxtor Librería. ISBN 84-95636-84-0. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Garaizabal Pildain, M. Euskal Herriko Ardoak Ardoxka Gastronomi Elkartea 2002
  5. ^ Huetz de Lemps, Alain (1967). Vignobles et vins du Nord-Ouest de l'Espagne. Bordeaux: Féret et Fils ed.. pp. 1005. 
  6. ^ "El chacolí del burgalés Valle de Mena quiere DO". elmundo.es. 2005. http://elmundovino.elmundo.es/elmundovino/noticia.html?vi_seccion=12&vs_fecha=200504&vs_noticia=1113497601. Retrieved 19-January-2008. 

External links


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