The Txakoli

The Txakoli is a light, fruity and slightly sparkling wine cultivated in Aiaraldea. It has a touch of acidity which makes it refreshing. It consists primarily of a variety “Hondarribi zuri” white grape (80%), native in the Basque Country, and the Gross Manseng, Petit Manseng and Petit Corbu varieties are used to a smaller degree, specifically in 20%.

Txakoli: with Guarantee of origin

In the Basque Country there are three different txakoli Guarantees of Origin, the one from Getaria, the one from Vizcaya and the one from Álava.

The first Guarantee of Origin that regulated the txakoli was established in 1989; specifically, it was the Guarantee of Origin Getariako Txakolina —Txakoli from Getaria. Thanks to its establishment, txakoli wine entered the modern era and the wine market as a quality and competitive product. The G.O. Bizkaiko Txakolina —Txakoli from Bizkaia— was established in 1994, and we would have to wait until the 21st century, in 2001, for the youngest of our designations, the G.O. Arabako Txakolina —Txakoli from Álava— although it had already claimed its place in 1989 by means of the Asociación Alavesa de Productores Artesanos de Txakoli - Arabako Txakolina Elkartea, an Association of Handcrafted Producers of Txakoli of the province of Álava.

Laudio, Amurrio, Okondo, Ayala and Artziniega (towns of the province of Álava) are exclusively integrated in the Guarantee of Origin of Álava, while Orduña participates in the G.O. of Vizcaya.

The history of Txakoli: “The region's wine”

The first written records show that in the ninth century was already common in Alava to produce this type of wine called Txakoli. The farmers where particularly in Amurrio, Llodio and Ayala.

In the XIII, XIV and XV century we could find everywhere in Aiaraldea geography grapes vineyards. The first time that "chacoli" word was found in Respaldiza, the 1st of  November of 1623.

At that time it was a highly profitable product for the economy of the city and at the end of the nineteenth century, we can see there were 965 vines in production areas in the valley of Llodio.

In 1877, three big plagues ravaged the countryside and reduced the vineyard throughout the Basque Country, which in Aiaraldea made almost the production of txakoli disappeared.

Since 1989 began a time where farmers had to replant all their vineyards.

Nowadays, thanks to the efforts of Aiaraldea txakoli farmers, the quality and production are increasing significantly.

The historical data have been verified in” The Txakoli in Alava” Book. The authors of this book are Juanjo Hidalgo and Jose Miguel Llano 2007 in collaboration with D. Salvador Velilla Cordoba, Amurrio 2003.

Miscellanea

According to Doctor Juan Uruñuela, the meaning of “Txakoli”, as it is known nowadays, is “country house wine” or “wine made in a country house”. This meaning has its roots in the Basque word “etxakoa” (made at home), then evolving to “etxakon”, which means neighbour of the house, until reaching to “txakon”, and finally “txacolin” or “chacolin”.

Sometimes, this wine was just taken with whatever had been improvised as that day's menu, usually fried hake fillets, bacalao al pil-pil —a typical Basque dish made with cod—, sardines in sauce and, less frequently, a good lamb stew or other giblets.

The country house Kurtze de Gardea, in Laudio, was one of the most popular chacolinerias —Txakoli houses— in the area, especially for being a centre of gatherings and bolos —a game similar to bowling, and a place were many famous people met too, such as the popular musician Ruperto Urquijo.

The recent discovery of several underground Txakoli wineries below some of the buildings in the historical quarter of Artziniega is worth mentioning. They are currently the only ones existing in the entire Basque Txakoli territory. Specifically, we are referring to two Baroque style palaces located in Barrenkale street, both from the 17th century, and another house in Goienkale street, rebuilt in the 70's though preserving its underground winery.

The Txakoli winemaking process

Grape varieties

  • Main Variety: Hondarribi Zuri 80%
  • The following varieties as a whole cannot exceed 20%: Gross Manseng, Petit Manseng and Petit Corbu.

Winemaking process

  • The grape is harvested and transported to the winery.
  • After reaching the winery, de-stemming is carried out, that is, the stems are removed.
  • Pressing process: special attention is paid to the must being in contact with the skins as less time as possible.
  • A quick procedure takes place before pressing is performed. The receiving bins help unload the grape and feed it through the crusher, where a set of nuts crush the grapes, and then by means of a harvest pump it is introduced in the press. A pneumatic press is used, and the difference with respect to others is that, in this case, the must is extracted by means of controlled pressure using an air compressor, as if it were a balloon pressing the grape and extracting the must. The grape spends approximately 2 hours in the press. Once the pressing process is finished, the stems, pips and skins are removed and Txakoli orujo —a strong alcoholic liquor distilled from the grape pressings— is made with them.
  • Next, a clearing process is carried out in the deposits, which consists in separating the solid matter from the must. Yeast is used to trigger fermentation and transform the sugar content into alcohol. This process happens at a temperature between 15 and 35°. Sulphur dioxide slows down the fermentation process, as well as being an antioxidant, sterilizer and bactericide.
  • Racking. Racking consists in separating the wine from the lees that accumulate at the bottom of vats or barrels.
  • It is then transferred to the fermentation deposit for a period of 12 to 15 days and at a temperature of 17°. With the lees at the bottom, racking is carried out again. When the lees have been separated, we have the basis of what Txakoli will be. There are currently two processes involved: Cold stabilization and filtering in the main tank.
  • Storage is carried out in stainless steel deposits.
  • Bottling.

The most representative fiestas featuring Txakoli

Txakoli Berria

A traditional celebration that takes place at the end of january or the first days of february, it is usually celebrated in a town within the Guarantee of Origin (Artziniega, Ayala, Amurrio, Llodio, Okondo) or in Vitoria. This tradition consists in presenting the new Txakoli after its harvest in late September. It is an event of elation carried out to honour the new Txakoli, a score is given and a popular figure performs the first toast. In addition, the bars in the village make an effort and offer pinchos and Txakoli at very special prices.

Txakoli Eguna (Day of the Txakoli) in Amurrio

This event is celebrated in the month of May and consists in presenting Txakoli in a gastronomic celebration. Homage is paid to the people who have carried out initiatives in favour of the Municipality of Ayala or the Txakoli from Alava. Quality products are presented. A popular and home-made products fair as well as a tasting takes place in the town of Amurrio.

"Txakoli a Tope" in Vitoria

"Txakoli a Tope" is a promotional campaign of Txakoli from Alava which is held in bars and cafés of  Vitoria during the months of June and July. It consists in tasting different Txakoli wines and enjoying pinchos at an agreed special price.

Txakoli Festa

It is a young, innovative and appealing festivity, in which all the wineries of txakoli of the province of Alava are gathered. It is celebrated in the month of july in Okondo.

The Route

The uniqueness and quality of our facilities do not leave different the visitors.

Our goal is to immerse yourself in the culture of txakoli and show you every detail of this traditional wine.

Our members

Aiaraldea offers many different accommodations, farmhouses, cottages, apartments, hotel, resorts, hostels and pensions for all type of tourists. See below the list of accommodations and restaurants who certify the quality of their service.