Tag Archives: Getaria

Urki Txacolina

Ah Urki.  Some of you might remember that I wrote about a great afternoon I spent with Urki some time ago.  I couldn’t believe my good fortune to actually visit the place where this dreamy liquid is produced.  Many of the vineyards are close together, and just outside of Getaria. We drove around exploring a bit before arriving at Urki.

hillside

Clouds had covered the sky by this time, so we had no guilt or sadness about leaving the coast to go inside and have a tour of the winery.  Cypress hedges divide sections of vines to protect them from the coastal wind.

vines

You might be able to tell from this picture that the vines are trained differently here.  While in France and other parts of Spain the vines are allowed to grow in a more bush-like formation, the grapes for Txacoli are trained to grow about five feet tall on stakes, vertically, and then are spread out across wires in between the tall stakes.  My tour of Urki was conducted exclusively in Spanish, because the owner speaks Euskara dominantly and Spanish as a second language, so I understood bits and pieces, and a bit more with the aid of our co-tourers who were Spanish-speaking French (we had French in common).  Through these somewhat complicated linguistic avenues I understood that Txacoli, a young wine that is aged for only a few months, needs a lot of sun as a grape in order to cultivate enough sugar to balance the natural acidity of a young wine [Wikipedia states “the grapes for this txakoli are grown according to the treille (or trellis) system (called parra in Basque) system. In this system the vines are cultivated at a greater height above the ground, with the foliage forming a continguous canopy to improve the microclimate”].  Many “Txacoli” producers add elements of sweeter grapes such as Chardonnay, Reisling, and Muscat, in order to increase the sugar content of Txacoli.  But, it is essential to note that any wine that has any content of the aforementioned grapes is not authentic Txacoli.  Txacoli is 100% Hondarrabbi-Zuri grapes.

house

This is an old house in the area I found on the way to Urki.

driving up better

Above:  the building at the end of the road ahead is the Urki winery.

urki's uvas

These are the uvas of Urki.  Some other wineries might use grapes from elsewhere, but Urki only uses the grapes they cultivate themselves.  In the fall of each year (approximately October) Urki employs forty people for ten days to hand-harvest all of their grapes for that year’s vintage.  The grapes are harvested and then pressed and processed by an impressive array of French machinery (the French and the Italians make higher quality winemaking machinery, typically, than do the Spanish).  While I didn’t understand much about the machinery, I enjoyed taking some pictures.

machinery

machinery2

galaxy bottler

galaxy

vats

In this relatively small row of eight tanks, all the Txacoli that Urki makes each year is aged.

It is currently late in the Txacoli season.  The 2009 vintage is running low, and the 2010 is months away from completion (Getaria hosts an annual Txacoli festival for the first Txacolis of the season in January each year).  But some Txacoli is kept in tank #5 for visitors, and we got to have some straight from the tap.

tasting

Urki’s Txacoli is 100% Hondarrabi-Zuri grapes.  The effervencense in Txacoli is a natural occurence, which I understand is caused by the reaction of the sugar and acidity in the aging process.  Many inauthentic Txacolis contain a greater appearance of frizzante, but this is caused by an artificial injection of CO2.  It is the custom in Spain to pour Txacoli from a great height, thus increasing the aroma and frizzante qualities.  Do not be fooled.  If you are drinking authentic Txacoli, both effervecense and aroma will occur without your server pouring from a two or three foot height.

Visiting Urki was a truly special experience.  Though this vineyard has only been in operation for two years, they have a clear devotion to the cultivation of a unique specialty from the Basque region.  Muchimas gracias a Kristian para su ayuda y la visita.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Getaria!

Getaria is a short, beautiful drive on the N-634 from San Sebastian/Donostia.  Right away as we drove into town we knew we’d come to the right place.  Visible from the coastal road you take into town is a storefront bearing the name of the controlled wine region Getaria-Txacolina–I was in heaven.

getariako txakolina
I met a young woman there who gave me a map with the locations of all twenty-one wineries whose wines qualify for the Getaria-Txacolina designation.  This is an incredibly small region, and these winemakers aren’t like those in California.  There aren’t huge tasting rooms open seven days a week–these are mostly family-run businesses based out of people’s homes.  These wineries typically only make Txacoli, which is a unique wine in and of itself–a young wine produced in limited quanities once a year, and meant to be drunk within the coming year.  The woman secured a reservation for me that evening at Urki, a new operation, but one that produces incredibly heavenly Txacoli, and we were off to explore the town.

getaria

The picture above shows the main street of town, facing from the coastal highway towards the ocean beyond the church.  The Church of San Salvador was originally erected in the fourteenth or fifteenth century over an even older temple, of which nothing remains.  Getaria is a point of great archeological interest since it has been inhabited for centuries, and the street you see above has always been an important corridor used for defense from the inland to the sea.  A small tunnel runs under the church still to this day, in order for townsmen of old to defend their homes from seaside invadors.

After some pixtos (or tapas) from one of the bars (I think that one with the red awning in the picture) we decided to hit the beach.

getaria beach

It was a truly picturesque afternoon.  I took a dip, laid in the sun a bit, and when I got too hot, I retreated to a beach cafe and had a bit of Txacoli.

getaria sign

Entering Getaria and the Monument to Juan Sebastian Elcano (J.S.E. was the first man to sail around the globe.  This monument was erected in the 20s after the Winged Victory of Samothrace).

getaria from the top

The view from atop J.S.E.’s monument

getarian kids jumping

Getarian children jumping from the port into the bay!

Next up, a report on my visit to Urki winery.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized