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Some wines from Albet i Noya

Definition Albet i Noya

One of Spain's greatest wine success stories. The pioneer of Spanish organic wines is now one of Catalonia's largest estate.

Its range is perfectly balanced, with top cuvées and outstanding sparkling wines.

History Albet i Noya

Albet i Noya has been the pioneer of the organic viticulture in Spain.

In 1978, Josep Maria was still very young but already at the wheel of the company after his father’s death, some years before. One day, the board of DO Penedès received a call for bids from a Scandinavian agency, asking for organic wines. The DO thought that as a veggie, Josep Maria was the man who could produce the wines. This is how it all started.

Back then, nobody took him very seriously. But today, with his brother Toni, he runs 100 hectares of organically farmed vines.

The estate is located in the Costers del Ordal, between the Vilafranca plain and the Garraf Mountain.

In the time of Josep Maria’s father, the estate was composed of numerous little plots of land – a heritage from the old feudal system. Today, it is in one part and belongs entirely to the family.

Albet i Noya has always been ahead of his time, with a clear emphasis on R&D;

Since 2000, they have been working on the recuperation of old Catalan grape varieties, which were disappearing.

After 10 years of research, two white grape varieties and one red could be added to the wine blends or even vinified on their own.

A more ambitious project still started in 2007: nothing les than redefining biodynamics.

Today, only one vineyard in the estate applies Steiner’s principles in their entirety (El Fanio).

Josep María is a man of conviction who wants to understand the scientific basis of all the treatments recommended by biodynamy before he applies them on his estate. According to him "there are plenty of religions already, there is no need for a new one".

In July 2011, Josep María was elected President of the DO Penedès.

Varieties

Josep María is very open-minded, so he has tried many new grape varieties and recuperated old ones. Today, he is working with some 30 different varieties – with great success. Here are those he sees as the most important:

Xarello (18 ha): this white variety is the best suited to the terroir of Costers del Ordal. It gives the wines fruitiness and minerality. And it ages well.

Macabeu (11 ha): young vines of this variety are mainly used for the production of cava, but after 30 to 40 years macabeus acquire a totally other dimension – very interesting flavours, worthy of the best white wines. Their ageing potential is huge (100 years or more).

Parellada (12 ha): this variety is very resistant to diseases, but doesn’t produce for more than 40 years. The wines it delivers are low in alcohol and acidity. It is interesting for the production of cava, bringing them elegance and finesse.

Marina Rion (1.5 ha) : this variety was rediscovered by Josep Maria who gave it his grandmother’s name. The wines made out of it have a high acidity and very fresh aromas not dissimilar to those of Riesling.

Tempranillo or Ull de llebre (8 ha): if the yields are kept low, and if the vines are old enough, very good quality wines can be obtained with this grape variety. Wines with good ageing potential too.

Belat (2 ha): this variety was rediscovered by Josep Maria who gave it its name (it is an anagram of Albet). It produces light-coloured wines with soft tannins and a refreshing acidity, and a very nice fruit. In terms of structure, it is comparable to the best pinots of Burgundy.

Since 2007, Albet i Noya has vinified Belat as a top wine, on its own.

Marselan (3 ha): a grape with a very good potential in Penedès, according to Josep María. It is a crossing between Grenache noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Very fruity, with a good structure, but soft tannins and a very good ageing potential.

Arinarnoa (1.5 ha): another crossing, between Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon, this time.

The wines that are made with it are dark coloured, densely aromatic, full bodied but with soft tannins. Blackberries, spices and animal notes are the main aromas.

Josep María is convinced he will be able to produce great wines with this grape in the future.

Terroir

Deep soils (4 to 10 m): ranging between 220 and 275 m above sea level, these sedimentary soils (clay and limestone) are very poor in organic compounds. Located in Can Vendrell and Can Mila de la Roca, they are planted with Xarello and Macabeu for the cava production. These soils account for 10% of the total estate.

Transition soils (2 to 4 m deep): between 275 and 350 m above sea level, these soils resulting from the erosion of the limestone bedrock are rather shallow. They are made of limestone and clay, with a few rocks. They contain few organic compounds.

Vines are often cultivated on terraces held in place by dry stone walls. Facing south, these vines are well drained and their yield is naturally low but their grapes mature well. They are best suited to still wines. These soils account for 70% of the estate.

Karstic soils (0.2 to 2 m deep): these very shallow soils are to be found between 350 and 400 m above see level. They result from the erosion of the bedrock, which often comes out to the surface. There are many small rocks but little organic matter, it is almost pure limestone. The yield of vines growing on this type of soil is very low, but they are very interesting for the winemaker, because they bring a lot of minerality and freshness to the wine. This is also good for the ageing potential.

All the top wines of Albet i Noya (La Milana, Reserva Martí, Belat, elBlanc and El Fanio) come from these vines. This type of soil accounts for 20% of the total estate.

Although it belongs to the Mediterranean zone, Costers del Ordal’s climate is cooler than the nearby Vilafranca plain (the cava territory), because of the altitude, and also because of the cool winds.

Winemaking

Harvesting is done by hand. Only indigenous yeasts are used. Fermentation starts in big, open concrete tanks. Albert i Noya also experiments with acacia wood barrels or concrete eggs – he wants the yeasts to melt into the wine, without the wood influencing it.

The level of hygiene in the cellar is maximal, so sulphur is rarely used.

In the vineyard. Albet i Noya is doing research on the natural resistance of the plants, so as to reduce the number of treatments (even organic treatments).

Albet i Noya - Spanish wines
Albet i Noya - Spanish wines
Albet i Noya - Spanish wines
Albet i Noya - Spanish wines
Albet i Noya - Spanish wines
Albet i Noya - Spanish wines
Albet i Noya - Spanish wines
Albet i Noya - Spanish wines
Albet i Noya - Spanish wines

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