Helen Unger Clark – www.translate.wine
Txakolina, txakoli, txakolin… chacolí? It depends on what language we’re speaking, who you’re talking to, and how keen you are to debate. In this article, I will refer to this lovely wine as “txakoli,” since that’s the name used on the D.O.’s Spanish and English websites. Yes, I know that the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española spells it chacolí. However, they also define chacolí as a “light and somewhat bitter wine that’s produced in the Basque Country, Cantabria, and Chile.” I’ll leave the debate for another day. Let’s learn about txakoli, shall we?
While most people typically think of txakoli as a white wine, you can also find rosé and even red txakoli from this region! However, it’s white txakoli that makes up 95% of the wine produced in the region, according to the D.O.’s website.
LOCATION: The wineries in this D.O. are scattered all throughout the Basque province of Bizkaia. If you’re wondering where that is, it’s the province where Bilbao is located. Bizkaia is a hilly province that borders the Bay of Biscay. In some locations, you can go from the top of a small mountain to the sea in under half an hour! Since the vineyards are located throughout the region, they each have their own unique geographic and climatic influence. Some vineyards are close to the sea. Others are on the side of a small mountain. However, according to the law that regulates wine production in the region, the vineyards are never at an altitude of over 400 meters.
GRAPES: The main grapes used to make txakoli include: hondarrabi zuri zerratia, hondarrabi zuri, and hondarrabi beltza. Other grape varieties that have been authorized for use within the region include mune mahatsa (folle blanche), izkiriota (gros manseng), izkiriota ttippia (petit manseng), sauvignon blanc, riesling, and chardonnay.
PRODUCERS: According to the D.O.’s website, there are 36 wineries that produce txakoli throughout Bizkaia.
OTHER FACTS: In 2010, the Basque government announced that they were going to go after other wine regions that allowed the production of “chacolí.” This included producers in Cantabria, Burgos, and France. You can read more at: http://bit.ly/txakolidrama
Want a quick Basque lesson? Ok. Guess what type of wine can be made with hondarrabi zuri grapes. Zuri – White. Now, guess what type of wine is made with hondarrabi beltza grapes. Beltz – black. So, red txakoli is made with hondarrabi beltza grapes!
You can read more about this region at: